Compared to the likes of Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones, New Zealand-born, formerly London-based, and now Los Angeles native Mark de Clive-Lowe has been an influential figure on the nu jazz scene for the past decade, without ever really threatening to break through to the mainstream. Despite an impressive array of collaborators including Prince drummer Sheila E., D'Angelo bassist Pino Palladino, and U.K. soul maestro Omar, his ninth studio album, Renegades, isn't going to be the one to introduce him to a wider audience. The Brand New Heavies-esque acid jazz of "The Why," the highly percussive funk of "Get Started," and the twinkling nu soul of "Everything" might find their way onto the likes of Craig Charles or Gilles Peterson's specialist radio shows, while the heavily London-accented vocals of Tawiah on the dancehall-tinged military-themed "Under Orders" showcase a more contemporary dancefloor-ready sound. But elsewhere, de Clive-Lowe's funky bass-driven and rhythmic brand of jazz-soul is as uncompromising as ever, as evident on the French-sung Afro-beat of "Alabi," the organic R&B of "Hooligan," and the two ambient interludes, which along with the pointlessly brief "Just Wanna" and "Just Wanna Lil More" feel more like snippets of self-indulgent jam sessions than fully formed pieces of music. Never less than tasteful, Renegades goes some way in explaining his esteemed reputation, but its loose improvised sound ensures it's a record solely for the purists. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi
Track samples provided courtesy of iTunes
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