Yesterdays New Quintet, Stevie

Yesterdays New Quintet, Stevie (2002)

Yesterdays New Quintet’s Stevie originally began life in late 2002 as a promo-only CD manufactured by Triple Five Soul and given out through its website, and occasionally sold during Stones Throw showcases. Its limited availability turned it into a collector’s item, fetching upwards of three figures on eBay, which eventually convinced Stones Throw to press it up for commercial release in 2004. (The gambit worked, and the original version of Stevie is now worth the price of a used CD.) The self-proclaimed Loop Digga’s stylistic quirk with this recording is replicating early 70s performers such as Ronnie Foster and Charles Earland, who turned popular standards (in this case, the Stevie Wonder catalog) into mellifluous instrumental escapades that often teetered between brightly-rendered soul-jazz and nondescript muzak. Not surprisingly, Yesterdays New Quintet can be just as erratic, though Stevie is much more consistent than its predecessor, 2001’s Angles Without Edges. Part of its charm is in hearing Madlib add new arrangements — and life — to classics such as “Superstition,” which he slows down to a grinding halt while adding shakers, and “I Am Singing,” which he laces with tasty rim shots.

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