1/ B1 (Batiste) 1.38 2/ Drop Away (Adebimpe,BL,Smith,Batiste) 5.07 3/ Timeline (Laswell,Smith,Batiste) 4.36 4/ Haunted (Kondo,BL,Smith,Batiste) 5.43 5/ B2 (Batiste) 3.36 6/ Turn On the Lights/Ascent (BL,CS,Batiste,Reed,Bromfield)7.06 7/ Black Arc (Laswell,Smith,Batiste) 4.12 8/ Nexus 6 (Laswell,Smith,Batiste) 4.41 9/ Spiral (Laswell,Smith,Batiste) 4.37 10/ B3 (Batiste) 2.00 11/ Time Falls (Laswell,Smith,Batiste) 3.39 12/ The Drift (Laswell,Smith,Batiste) 7.04 Recorded an mixed at Orange Music, West Orange, New Jersey Additional drums an piano recorded at Barber Shop Studios, Hopatcong, NJ Engineering: Robert Musso with James Dellatacoma Additional engineering by Jason Corsaro Assistant engineer: Jeremy Gillespie with James Dellatacoma Directed by Jay Bulger Produced and arranged by Bill Laswell with Jay Bulger, Chad Smith & Jon Batiste Executive producers: Chad Smith & Giacomo Bruzzo Artwork by Mohammed Hammoudi Design by Yoko Yamabe at Randesign Promotion: Antje Huber at hubtone PR & Laura Glass at Cocolittle Media M.O.D. Technologies: Yoko Yamabe M.O.D. Support: Dave Brunelle Mastered by Michael Fossenkemper at Turtle Tone Studio, NYCJon Batiste: piano, electric piano, hammond organ, electronic keyboards, harmonaboard, percussion; Chad Smith: drums, percussion; Bill Laswell: basses, guitar, electronics; Tunde Adebimpe: vocals (2); Killah Priest: vocals (6); Garrison Hawk: vocals (6); Toshinori Kondo: trumpet (4); Peter Apfelbaum: flute (6), tenor saxophone (6), soprano saxophone (12); Dominic James: guitar (7,11).
2014 - M.O.D. Technologies (USA), MODLP00014 (Vinyl) 2014 - M.O.D. Technologies (USA), MODLP00014 (Ltd. Ed. Vinyl) 2014 - M.O.D. Technologies (USA), MOD00014 (CD) 2014 - Victor Entertainment (Japan), VICP-65228 (CD)Note: Only the Japanese version contains track 8.
Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith provides a lot of the direction here, his thudding tom-toms popping with electric urgency while retaining a deep-bottomed texture, like something crackling through the lower regions of a swamp. “Drop Away” reveals the plan for the build, as it were: Overlay some guest vocals—courtesy of Tunde Adebimpe, in this case—atop that percussive foundation and have Jon Batiste’s smoky organ tones let in some electric-Miles funk while Bill Laswell’s bass churns in four- and five-note patterns beneath it all.
There’s R&B here, too, and something like “Timeline” comes off as a late-night, post-gig Slim Harpo vamp, but with more throb. Some of the songs—“Haunted”—are too freighted with that loose jam-band attitude, but even there we’re talking some arresting aural wallpaper, with wah-wah blasts and Ginger Baker polyrhythms and an abiding sense of some guys just getting flat-out locked-in together. “Black Arc” could double as part of an updated soundtrack to those 1970s Christopher Lee vampire pictures, with some garage-band organ spliced in for the requisite kitsch. A grower, and a very handy set for those moments when you want to work on the club moves you’re never going to bust out.
Colin Fleming (courtesy of the Jazz Times website)
If anybody saw this coming, they must to be clairvoyant. The Process brings together drummer Chad Smith, the hard-hitting, groove-making force that drives the Red Hot Chili Peppers, pianist Jon Batiste, the oft-cheery personality who bridges the NOLA-New York divide with his crowd-pleasing, accessible brand of jazz, and bassist-producer Bill Laswell, a prolific, genre-blind force with a mile-long list of credits who's straddled and erased the divide between pan-African styles, dub, funk, jazz, various strains of rock, electronica, and avant-garde music.
All three of those men have strong and distinct personalities, and each brings something important to the table, but Laswell is the key ingredient here. He often finds himself at the center of less-than-likely collaborations like this, and everything that bears his production stamp manages to make the unlikely seem perfectly natural. He has a way of creating artful canvases that pulsate, throb, and rock, not with a cold chill or overly mechanical vibe, but with an air of humanness. Batiste, more than anybody else, moves beyond expectations, often painting with alien sounds and drawing abstract lines. Reflective purity shines through when he's alone with his thoughts ("B1"), but his experimental side wins out when everybody's at work. Smith, while moving beyond his comfort zone a bit, is basically still in hammer mode, driving the music with controlled aggression. His tribal tom-and-snare grooves merge well with Laswell's locked-in bass lines throughout.
While The Process was created in the studio, with nothing written in advance, it wasn't conceived and created in a single burst of inspiration. In fact, there was quite an evolutionary process at play here. Laswell notes that "the original idea was to film unfamiliar musicians playing together in a room with no preconceived direction." As time went on, plans changed, and the idea of making an album seemed to make more sense. So, all three musicians, along with guests like multi-reedist Peter Apfelbaum, Tunde Adebimpe from TV on the Radio, and Killah Priest from Wu-Tang Clan, got together in the studio and jumped right in. The resultant tracks, with rap ("Turn On The Light"), Toshinori Kondo's processed trumpet ("Haunted"), Dominic James' guitar, and other surprises, speak to different styles yet resides in a singular Laswell-ian zone.
Process is important to the story of this album, but outcome ultimately trumps process when it comes to music. Knowing how an album is made, and the complete story behind it, certainly contributes to full-picture understanding of a work, but the real question is this: can the music stand apart from its story? In this case, the answer is "yes." The music presented on The Process tells its own story in rhythmically vibrant fashion.
Dan Bilowsky (courtesy of the All About Jazz website)
Jon Batiste (Stay Human), drummer Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), and bassist Bill Laswell (the whole damn musical universe): three master musicians meeting for the first time in a studio to score a film that would never be made. Or so the EPK would have you believe. This is, however, something of a misrepresentation, one which assumes sounds exist strung like beads along continua of time. But a deeper listen reveals these men were already linked through the kinship of their sonic pursuits: different religions, if you will, offering sacrifice to the same gods. As for the unmade film, it too is a product of imagination that requires the screen of a listener’s mind on which to project itself before any semblance of narrative can occur.
At the molten core of this project is Batiste himself, who spins three original pillars of support at key intervals. Their titles—“B1,” “B2,” and “B3,”—read like the display of an elevator descending into some psychological archive, where the aisles between stacks are meant for kneeling in deference to those things unknown even to the self. Awash with suspension and slippage in equal measure, each digs deeper into the mind’s eye to pull out a retinal shift from axis to praxis.
Moving to the surface of this cross-section pulls us by the ears onto the igneous glyphs of trifecta minerals. “Timeline” feels like an extension of its surroundings, holding feet to flame until they crackle with the blisters of a million journeys. Batiste rocks the Hammond organ like a machete through vine, while in “Spiral” (best described as a dance party inside a giant didgeridoo) he adds harpsichord and strings in service of some parallel, cinematic reality. “Black Arc” is more radiant and composes its speech through Laswell’s harmonious eclipse.
From the album’s guest contributions, messages emerge weighted and secure. “Drop Away” features TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe on vocals, for a vibe that puts one in mind of Peter Gabriel at his worldliest. A solid groove beneath it all, courtesy of an especially lucid rhythm section, urges Adebimpe’s voice through a netting of enhancements and inside-outing: a method of disappearance, whereby the self becomes something of an idol to its own destruction.
Killah Priest and Garrison Hawk pen a letter to interplanetary communication in “Turn on the Light/Ascent,” for which the Wu-Tang Clan rapper and Jamaican singer respectively harness the beat as a means of flooding channels beyond this marbled terrarium we call home. From heavy beat-drops arises a phoenix of celestial pianism, tenor sax (courtesy of Peter Apfelbaum), and liquid bass. Trumpeter Toshinori Kondo is no less vocal on “Haunted,” wherein structures contract and expand much like the air in his lungs. This one runs a knife blade along its own gums until they bleed. Guitarist Dominic James adds crunch to “Time Falls,” bringing about an urgent metamorphosis from bling to bang, as if in denial of the jazzy nocturnus that is “The Drift.”
Whereas the filaments of life burn slowly until the body swells with endings, the landscape of death is sustainable and verdant. And this is, perhaps, what the titular process is all about: understanding that everything is a transition into the next, without end.
Tyran Grillo (courtesy of the ECM Reviews website)