In today’s fast-paced, money-driven music industry, full of rock-stars, pop-stars and porn-stars, it seems unlikely that the great jazz and blues label Blue Note would release a down-tempo jazz album. However, this isn’t just any jazz album. St. Germain is not your usual jazz group, using the sound of today’s electronica, while still following the conventions set forth by the jazz greats of yester year.
Ludovik Navarre is the man behind St. Germain, handling the writing, producing, and mixing for the album, not to mention conducting the band as well. Tourist is the acts late 2000 release. For the album, St. Germain mixes the spiraling improvisation of jazz with the beat-driven syncopation of modern day techno and house music. The result is a funky trip through fusion jazz, funky lounge music, and innovative French house, all with a vibe that makes you want to groove on the dance floor.
More than just a band that performs with a DJ spinning records in the background, St. Germain has a well-produced and intelligent sound that showcases Navarre’s talent as well as creating a viable new genre of jazz. The disc is full of bright tones and vibrant melodies offset by rhythmic, sometimes tribal, beats. Deep bass lines and satiny smooth keys punctuate many of the tracks.
A perfect example of their style is “Sure Thing,” which contains elements of Miles Davis and John Lee Hooker’s collaboration, “Harry’s Philosophy.” “La Goutte D’or” has a hip-hop flavor to it, full of bouncing beats and urban rhythms. The funky flute and syncopated beat of “So Flute” gives off the feel of an Andes Mountain influenced tribal house track.
Regardless of how they might be labeled by the music industry or received by the listening public, St. Germain has created an intriguing blend of styles and genres. Whether it’s the spiraling jazz tracks or the thumping loungy house tracks, the group lays down something for everyone. Ludovik Navarre and the rest of St. Germain are pushing the genre of jazz into the 21st century.