German guitarist, bandleader and producer JJ Whitefield has been spearheading several musical sub-genres over the last two decades. His bands Poets of Rhythm, Whitefield Brothers and Karl Hector & The Malcouns are almost legendary to fans worldwide. He has been releasing influencial albums on Ninja Tune, Mo‘Wax, Daptone, Strut, Stones Throw and Now-Again and is probably one of the most respected German undergound musicians.
Now he is reaching new levels of nastiness with his Kraut-Jazz debut for Kryptox music. The new german label that has been created to show what´s happening in the growing german Neo-Jazz underground. A label collaboration between Gomma and K7 Records
„Brother all alone“ is Whitefield´s first album under his own name. Recorded in Berlin, Munich and Nairobi with some of the most interesting heads of the German Neo-Jazz-Kraut scene and mixed by Malcolm Catto of The Heliocentrics.
Whitefield is an innovator in the experimental kraut, deep funk, neo jazz scene. An obsessed record collector since his teenage years, Whitefield´s productions aim for a timeless quality and are often regarded on par with the classics they´re influenced by.
In the 1990’s he paved the way for the retro funk revival as mastermind of the Poets Of Rhythm. A band he started while still in school. The group begun with selfreleased 7“ vinyl singles, made on a 4-track tape recorder in his moms basement, and ended up with a album deal on Ninja Tune (and people like DJ Shadow, Coldcut, Mark Ronson and Gilles Peterson beeing massive fans.)
These „Poets of Rhythm” – records later served as main influence for the Daptone crew. The New York band that became Amy Winehouse backingband on her breakthrough album Back In Black. ( And btw: These early Poets- vinyls are highly sought after collectors items now, trading hands for hundreds of dollars…in case you own some.)
After the early Poets of Rhythm sucess JJ Whitefield moved to the States to learn more about beat making and black music culture. He connected with the New York and Bay Area Jazz and Hip Hop scene and that resulted in productions for american artists. Among that also own albums on Stones Throw and Now Again with his bands Whitefield Brothers and Karl Hector (Afro Funk) and Rodinia (Kraut Experiments).
After beeing obsessed with Funk, Jazz and Hip Hop Whitefield later started to widen his interests in west african and ethiopian music. Record collecting and production. This passion culminated of him beeingan integral part in re- launching the career of ghanaian afro funk legend Ebo Taylor and recording Taylor’s two albums for Strut Records.
His passion for african music brought him also to work with Jagari Chanda of zambian rock legends the W.I.T.C.H. since 2010.
Now, back in Germany, JJ Whitefiled culminates all these experiences on his album Brother All Alone.
A melting pot of styles and influences, drawing from Kraut, Jazz, Ambient and world music heritages. His new band consists of some of the most intersting talents of the new German Jazz & Kraut scene:
Johannes Schleiermacher, Bernd Oezsevim,and Maasl Maier (Karaba, Embryo), with guest appearances from Sam Davids, Charif Megarbane and Marja Burchard.
The band recorded ten of Whitefield’s compositions. The album starts with two quite calm songs:
Seven Seas in 7/8 rhythm and 14/08: a symmetrical rhythm of a 3/ 3/ 2/ 3/ 3 beat, which makes a total of fourteen 8th notes. Then Zone 30 takes over: an improvisation with a very slow tempo that opens of for White Queen. The tribute song for Whitefield’s daughter Lilly. Whitefield says: “As a kid I always chose black in chess. Now playing with my daughter, she has first dips on color and always chooses black. So I’m stuck with the: White Queen.“
Besides collecting vinyl from Africa, Germany and the US Whitefield also since ever has been intersted in exotic library records: Chilli Chicken can be seen as an tribute to this scene. This track gets followed by two other tribute compositions: Metrosex – tribute to German Jazz legend Gunter Hampel and Rubikon: a homage to one of the funkiest bands ever with a jazzy prog filter. Also Yellow Sari could remind certain vibes from more trippy exotic library sounds . The follow up song Dreckstück then creates a slightly different atmopshere: Its a complex 39/16 rhythm. A punky Jazz track that made the Whitefield band almost start a rebellion against his leader while reharsaling it because of it’s extrem complexity. The album closes with the beautiful Nirguna: an ambient indian drone experiment.