the detroit jazz & house pleasures of ‘andres iv’

November 8, 2019

One of the many Black musical wonders of Detroit is how the community corrects what are often regarded as strict musical ideas. (See this story’s headline.) When you talk to musicians in Detroit, they will, for the most part, look at you dead-eyed at the mention of “jazz” or “house” to describe their music, because these terms carry limits that their music does not. The main purpose of genre being a commercial filing system, a limiter; and in Detroit, tradition transcends those limits, and the local musical masters are beyond simple pigeonholing.

Dez Andrés is one of those masters. He initially made his name as a member of the mighty Slum Village, alongside Dilla, but over the past twenty years, he has made many types of soulful sounds, DJ’d all kinds of records in dance clubs around the world, and is increasingly prevalent playing percussion in improvisational environments (often in the all-star Shigeto Live Ensemble). F*ck a genre! And his newest album, Andres IV, set to drop at the end of the month on Moodyman’s Mahogani Music label, is that philosophy come to life. It’s a record of grooves and joy.

For those who have trouble processing how music bounds over genre, this live version of Andrés’ 2012 disco-house hit, “New For U,” performed by an 11-piece group of some Detroit’s finest (Amp Fiddler on clavinet, Marcus Elliot on tenor saxophone, Ian Fink on keys, Shigeto on drums, Will Sessions arranging, and on and on) makes this idea explicitly clear. Driven by Dez’s congas, Fink’s slinky Rhodes and the newly added vocals of the wonderful Detroit group, Dames Brown, this “New For U” becomes a different kind of barnstormer, moving the melancholy vibes of the strings a little further back. Little duets and trios between the players and the vocalists pop up throughout the seven-plus minutes, before Elliot’s saxophone takes center stage. One of the best new dance records we’ve heard in a minute.

Andres IV is out on Mohagani Music in late November.