The Detroit Experiment

The Detroit Experiment

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Following in the path of the Philadelphia Experiment, the Detroit Experiment is a multigenerational meeting of Motor City talent that casts its net far enough to include players from several fields of music. There are some genuinely electric and inspired moments scattered across the album, along with a few that are too tepid to generate much of a reaction, but the album is consistently laid-back and slickly executed throughout its entirety. Recorded during a five-day stretch by Carl Craig (techno wizard and Innerzone Orchestra leader), Karriem Riggins (drummer and member of venerable hip-hop production team the Ummah), and Aaron Levinson, the album includes participation from Regina Carter, Bennie Maupin, Marcus Belgrave, Francisco Mora, Allan Barnes, Amp Fiddler, and several others. With a roster of people like that on board, you know it's going to be steeped in jazz; however, there are several moments that make it an eclectic affair. After a great revamp of Belgrave's 1974 classic "Space Odyssey," the album opens up with a look at Donald Byrd's "Think Twice," which is radically overhauled as a relaxed, nocturnal house track, with soloing aplenty over the simple but leagues-deep rhythm. A transformation of Stevie Wonder's "Too High" is incredibly spacy, with Fiddler's voice often looming ominously over a spare arrangement. Originals like "There Is a God" (spotlighting Carter's sad but redemptive violin) and "Vernors" (a swaggering hip-hop instrumental with light additions from several of the instrumentalists) also add more colors. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the references to Detroit are all but countless; they're in the song titles, they're in the actual songs, and they're also peppered throughout the lyrics of "The Way We Make Music" (female MC Invincible scores bonus points for throwing in the New Dance Show). Though it's dotted by some merely pleasant but unengaging work, the remainder makes this unique record fascinating for music fans of all ages.

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