Throughout Contemplating Jazz, multi-instrumentalist and producer Hanna (Warren D. Harris) testifies his love for house music and also for jazz, the primary influence that has been present in all of his work since the late '90s. Following a pair of accomplished drum'n'bass albums for Shadow (Hanna is triply prolific in the 12" department), Contemplating Jazz lands the producer on Brett Dancer's Track Mode, a label that has unerringly built on its reputation for delivering some of the best house music the U.S. has to offer. This LP is definitely part of that process. The listener is immediately struck with the thought that Hanna must be a musician who could flex his skills with little trouble, but thankfully he places pleasing the ears above impressing them. Outside of pointing out top highlight "Quiet Place," a particularly infectious track that seems to skip and glide simultaneously, it's difficult to call out key tracks because the album is remarkably consistent. The tempos are energetic, with lively drum programming, occasional use of slap bass and live drums, and all manner of keyboard work that ranges from waves of undercurrent textures to dashes of twinkling pianos. The four wild-card interludes that dot the album provide rest for the feet between every couple tracks, giving additional depth with shades of jazzy, beat-heavy R&B. If you're not afraid of extended grooves and pristine production values, this album from an overlooked Ohioan is worth seeking out. It's equally ideal for both a sunny afternoon drive in the fall and a night on the tiles. If Hanna isn't considered to be on the same plane as likeminded, more seasoned producers such as Blaze, Roy Davis, Jr., and Glenn Underground, he can't be far below now.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman