Updated: Aug 2
Earlier this year, Lucas and I repped Steppin’ during the Jazz Rave event we did. It brought together the improvisation of jazz and the repetition of electronic beats. I observe this is a response to the sonic (and tempo) switch post-pandemic. Music (events) became faster and more gritty as a sort of relief system of the past years. Yet, for jazz lovers, the minimal beats are never enough. The increased tempo is met with equal virtuosity. At least this is what we envision with Jazz Rave events with Steppin’. Tying together these concepts is something that’s in the air. Local band Jazz 'n Dance interprets these concepts freely on their debut EP. The single 'Happiness Is Now' is a soulful cut that sees the musicians play over soulful harmonics and straightforward thumping house beats.
Sampled drums form the heartbeat of 'Happiness Is Now'. Producer-engineer Quincy Speelman laid down the beat and arrangement in such a way that the other musicians are able to freely flow across the track. Keys, guitar, bass and brass section all work in harmony to provide a very catchy hook, with melodies that transition to the improv verses. The hook and melodies are based on a Freddie Hubbard song of the same name. It illustrates the relevance of history that is ingrained in Jazz. Reinterpreting older records is a staple of the genre. Where Coltrane and others interpreted other genres to make it Jazz, we now vehicle Jazz and blend it with the genres it has birthed: house, hip-hop, funk and so on. Yet still remaining the elements of improv.
Jazz'nDance consists of various generations of musicians and enthusiasts who want to continue the jazz tradition on the one hand but also add something unique and modern on the other. They’ve played at spots around Amsterdam such as Lovelee, Vondelpark, A’damtoren, Slim Radio Festival and Nomads Festival. Taking their studio productions to the road is a key element to the band, as their improv and live performance are inherently tied to the productions. But the connection between the audience and their interpretation of Jazz and Dance is equally important to them. Frontman Quincy says:
“We see similarities between the 1920s and the 2020s we find ourselves in: times with huge new opportunities but also challenges we face on the daily. Jazz, once the music of the night, emerged from the same urge for self-expression and innovation felt by us young people today.”
In addition to making music, Jazz’nDance is a project aiming to bring live music back to the nightlife. If you have been following Steppin’ for some time, you know that these ideas float around our vicinity as well. Similarly, both Jazz ’n Dance and Steppin’ seem inspired by the 80s Brit Funk movement, where live musicians increased the tempo of their tunes at nightclub spots beyond the jazz clubs. In 'Happiness Is Now', you can easily hear this free improvisation and instantaneous interpretation occurring. It is hard not to see this at a nightclub spot. Hopefully, we can make this happen :).
The rollout for their EP ‘Keep It Moving’ starts with this single and will release in October. Support Jazz'nDance on Bandcamp.
Steppin' Into Tomorrow stands with artists & labels and encourages listeners to support them by buying their music directly from Bandcamp. If you've enjoyed this article, please consider subscribing to our monthly newsletter to stay in the loop.