Published Jul 08, 2020Even by supergroup standards, Dinner Party is an embarrassment of riches. Kamasi Washington is the most important young talent to arrive on the international jazz scene in more than a decade. Robert Glasper has carved a deep niche for himself with a mix of straight-up jazz records and a slick R&B series he calls Black Radio. Terrace Martin and 9th Wonder – both heavyweight artists, producers and record execs – round out the lineup.
Together, they have produced a nearly flawless R&B collection. Every one of these seven tracks is better than 99-point-something percent of what the genre has offered up so far this year. The only thing standing between this album and an even higher rating is another three songs.
It feels wrong to listen to something this inspired and complain that there isn't enough of it. But that is surely the only criticism to be offered here. Dinner Party is best-of-the-year-list good.
Washington and Martin have been friends since their teenage years. Glasper connected with Martin about the same time at a jazz bandcamp. They talked about recording together and wrote material over a couple of years, before finally synching their schedules at the end of 2019.
Chicago vocalist Phoelix shows up on four cuts, including the single "Freeze Tag." His sugar-sweet delivery is ideally suited to the material.
But nothing is overdone here. Washington's saxophone grounds the entire project. His fiercest fans will miss hearing him out front, but that's entirely beside the point. No one's at the head of the table here. Instead we get a group of friends with genuine history and the kind of outsized talent we can only marvel at. Savour this. (Sounds of Crenshaw)