in contrast to the frenetic house, techno, new jack swing and jungle scenes of the early 90s, genres that mirrored these scenes but with a slowed down tempo started to arise. ambient and balearic became the comedown music of choice for tired clubbers, and jazz jungle emerged for those too knackered, or rhythmically challenged, for drum and bass.
acid jazz may have been a backlash against the studio produced sounds of the time, or just a natural regression back to a more organic era. i don’t think, for the first few years, i really thought about it that much or recognised acid jazz as any different. one of the first really big tracks, ‘always there’ by incognito, was remixed into a us garage anthem anyway, as were many brand new heavies tracks. acid jazz probably blended more effortlessly with the house and garage crowds than the more obvious affiliate of new jack swing.
acid jazz, thanks to its socially conscious and intelligent lyrical content, was a saving grace for me at university when looked down upon by miserable indie kids and oh so alternative rockers alike. they felt able to decimate house and garage music for its lack of lyrical content, jungle for its london-centric, chavtastic appeal and well, they just dismissed r&b entirely. stating a preference for acid jazz usually left them speechless and for that i was grateful. i’ve never understood quite why fans of such insipid and regressive music feel they have superior taste but i never miss an opportunity to put them in their place.
it’s so true that you will never see your first year uni friends ever again. and that you really need music in common in order to suddenly become flatmates with a bunch of strangers. on my first night at university i sat in my room in the grubby halls of residence and wondered how on earth i was going to cope. to my left, a mature student was blaring out eric clapton, across the hall, elton john. i wandered downstairs and found a group of greasy helmet heads swaying to suede. after an uncomfortable night in the local pub in which we discovered none of us had anything in common, we awoke the next day to the sound of a latecomer unpacking her belongings to the dulcet tones of michael bolton. she played him every sunday morning until someone broke into her room and stamped on the cassette.
once the caring sharing and huggy early nineties had given way to laddism and ibiza, acid jazz faded. soon it was viewed as too worthy and retro to compete with the futuristic beats and sculpted r&b unleashed by timbaland, the neptunes and roc-a-fella.
the live instrumentation in amerie and beyonce’s work are a nod to the principles of acid jazz and should we ever return to the crystal wearing, cleansing new age era then perhaps it will resurface. well, we’ve revived everything else. in fact the 90s revival is well overdue – i seem to remember spending my 21st birthday at an 80s night in 1997.
90s jazz funk classics – download here
brand new heavies – close to you
carleen anderson – mama said
clusterfunk – do me right
corduroy – mini
d’influence – midnight
diana brown – masterplan
incognito – don’t you worry ’bout a thing
jamiroquai – blow my mind
leena conquest – boundaries
liquid soul – i want you to want me
repercussions – promise me nothing
young disciples – apparently nothing