Twin streams of Black-American heritage nourish BEAUTIFULLY AWKWARD, the second full-length release by FKAjazz which is out now.
FKAjazz is an innovative musical alchemist, a powerfully expressive tenor, soprano and alto saxophonist who animates his compositions with well-crafted arrangements, based on his own keyboard parts and wedded to organic rhythm beds. Surrounded by outstanding guest vocalists and instrumentalists from his Trew Culture collective, he performs with a mastery that confirms his coronation by UPI as “a triple-threat Musician/Producer/Writer.”
FKAjazz follows the trail blazed before him by Robert Glasper, Chris Dave, D’Angelo, J Dilla, The Roots and other pioneers of the jazz/hip-hop intersection. Yet BEAUTIFULLY AWKWARD probes further down that trail, achieving a blend of essences that suggests the birth of a new genre entirely.
“Growing up at the height of Nineties hip-hop and R&B while simultaneously studying jazz gave me a perspective of the music that many of my cohorts have used in different ways,” FKAjazz notes. “As someone who has spent many years as both a jazz saxophonist and my own producer, I feel like I have the facility to bring something fresh to the table.”
Some of this music’s unique quality stems from its personal genesis. “This album is a love story – my love story,” FKAjazz says. “But it’s also reflective of what everyone goes through in finding love for themselves. I began writing music for BEAUTIFULLY AWKWARD after a breakup. It was my therapy, a great way to self-reflect and have high hopes for the future.”
The album title is especially apropos. “Love is both beautiful and awkward,” he explains. “And so are people in general, which is a really fascinating perspective. Putting that definition on love really brought me to a good place – more open and honest with myself and the people I connect with. Naturally, it went right into the music I was creating.”
As directed by FKAjazz, the two genres join in what might be called a garden of musical delights. In place of both jazz flash and dance-beat declamation, the album conjures a kind of dream state, drawing from the heart rather than the excess of each style. It is, as a result, an epic achievement and a promise of even more illuminating exploration ahead.