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The Soul Express Album of the Month

February 2002

US Hidden Beach 2-CD, 2001
The funny thing is that almost the same words I said about N'Dambi's new set (in my review of the album of the month in January 2001) also apply to JILL SCOTT's brand new release, Experience: Jill Scott 826+ (US Hidden Beach 2-CD 86150). There are so many similarities that it's almost unbelievable, especially considering that these two CD's were released in the same week!
As with N'Dambi's debut set, I enjoyed some individual cuts on Jill's debut as well, yet the overall flavour of the album was too hip hop -oriented to my taste. Still, it was easy to realise that Jill belongs to the same discipline of neo-soul artists as Erykah and N'Dambi. And, just like N'Dambi, Jill has now released a new double set, part of which is recorded live (in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia), and part of the CD being new studio material.
The best thing with Jill's album is that just like Erykah and N'Dambi, Jill also utilises an array of real musicians on her live recordings, although her studio material also contains several hip hop-oriented, programmed and sampled tracks. To be honest, I'm not that excited about the new material, either, but the live recordings are phenomenal. I had rather high hopes that Jill would show her real abilities on this set, and she really shines on the live recording of my favourite tune of the debut, A Long Walk, which is set in a glorious, swinging Washington go-go style arrangement.
Not only is the instrumentation incredibly solid and funky, featuring a six-piece band (drums, keyboards, bass, percussion, trumpet, trombone) and a backing vocal trio, but also Jill herself sounds much stronger and more convincing than I could have dared to dream.
Compared to N'Dambi's new CD, Jill's music focuses much more on funk than jazz, but there are plenty of splendid jazzy solos on offer, as well. Because of the more overt hip-hop influences especially in the studio recordings, I don't rate this album as high as N'Dambi's double set, but anyway this is another milestone by these sensational young neo-soul ladies. Now it's exciting to see what Ledisi's answer to Jill and N'Dambi will be - Ledisi has two new albums just coming out: one soul set and one live (jazz) CD! -IT

The album of the Month in January 2002: N'Dambi
The album of the Month in December 2001: Ali Ollie Woodson
The album of the Month in November 2001: Main Ingredient
The album of the Month in October 2001: Ty Stephens
The Album of the Month in August 2001: Michael Bohannon
The Album of the Month in June-July 2001: Miki Howard
The Album of the Month in May 2001: Cynthia Biggs
The Album of the Month in April 2001: Gladys Knight
The Album of the Month in March 2001: Nathan Heathman
The Album of the Month in February 2001: Ian
The Album of the Month in January 2001: Karen Bernod

Albums of the Month in 2000
Albums of the Month in 1999
Albums of the Month in 1998
Albums of the Month in 1997

Other CD reviews
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