Henry Franklin JID014

Henry Franklin / Adrian Younge

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Henry Franklin JID014 Review

by Matt Collar

Initially emerging in the late '60s, bassist Henry "The Skipper" Franklin has enjoyed a late-career resurgence, buoyed by reissues of his classic Black Jazz Records LPs and his 2022 collaboration with Bay Area collective Daggerboard, Daggerboard and the Skipper. Released the same year as that recording, JID014 further underlines Franklin's reputation as a West Coast jazz legend and torchbearer for the funky, atmospheric post-bop he championed at the start of his career. The 14th volume in instrumentalist Adrian Younge and producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad's ongoing Jazz Is Dead Series, JID014 showcases Franklin leading a small ensemble featuring keyboardist/guitarist Younge, as well as guitarist Jeff Parker, drummer Jonathan Pinson, trumpeter Clinton Patterson, saxophonist David Urquidi, saxophonist/flautist Scott Mayo, and percussionist Nicholas Baker. While past Jazz Is Dead entries have explored the convergence of jazz, hip-hop, electronic music, and more, here, Franklin, Younge, and Muhammad shine a light on the former with their original compositions, all of which evoke the fluidly organic, modal jazz of Franklin's classic albums like 1973's The Skipper. Some of the tracks, like the Latin-inflected "Cafe Negro" and the moody, minor-key "The Griot," wouldn't sound out of place on a classic Blue Note date. Others, like the opening "Karibu," straddle both contemporary and throwback styles, mixing loungey, late-'60s harmonies with a kinetic, EDM, jungle-inspired groove. There's also the hard-swinging "African Sun" and the woozy, '70s Blaxploitation-sounding epic "People's Revolution," the latter of which finds Franklin's woody bass framed by noir-ish horns and acidic wah-wah guitar. With JID014, Younge and Muhammad celebrate Franklin's decades-long soul-jazz voyage.

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