Matt’s Music Corner: Dinner Party

Dinner Party gifts there fans a water-tight tape dipped in a sugary coating of velvety jazz and New York City hip-hop

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Matt Brady, Staff Reporter

L.A. based R&B, hip-hop, and jazz supergroup Dinner Party released their self-titled debut album to the world on July 10, 2020. The group, comprised of tenor saxophonist Kamasi Washington, Grammy-award winning producer 9th Wonder, pianist Robert Glasper, and rapper and saxophonist Terrance Martin, formed in L.A., sometime between May and June of 2020. They released their first single, “Freeze Tag,” on June 25, 2020. The music video for the song, directed by Samantha Whitehead, Brendan Walter, and Jasper Graham, depicts the group in the studio producing the song, laughing, hanging out, and all around having a good time. It has racked up about 400,000 views and 5 and a half thousands likes on YouTube and is still going strong. In less than a month, they would release their first and most recent album, Dinner Party.

            The album begins with the jam “Sleepless Nights.” Opening with dazzling saxophones playing in unison, the song quickly slips into a neo-soul/psychedelia feeling with a hint of old-school hip-hop; dreamy keyboards and pianos play over a boom-bap style drum groove. The lyrics weave a tale of wondering if your significant other still feels the same way about you after an altercation. He sings, “I lay awake, tossin’, wondering when we’ll get it right. We’ve been down, for so long.” A breezy saxophone solo takes off near the end, bringing more life to the track as it finishes on a jazzy high note.

From there on out, the rest of the album follows the same blueprint; each song has some sort of bright and jazzy instrumentation mixed with grimy hip-hop drum beats and vintage 80’s sounding synthesizers. The album draws on diverse influences from different areas of the musical world; you can hear the jazz influence from artists such as John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Charlie Parker, R&B from D’Angelo and Erykah Badu, and 90’s hip-hop from A Tribe Called Quest, The Pharcyde, and The Roots. Dinner Party successfully mixes all these influences and styles into one cohesive sound that seems entirely their own.

In each song, the focus is more fixated on the instrumentals that the lyrics. Songs including “From My Heart and My Soul”, “First Responders”, and “The Mighty Tree” better help accentuate this. In “From My Heart and My Soul”, a grimy, lo-fi style drum beat plays over a trippy sounding synthesizer. Soft and silvery vocal harmonies glide from the song into your brain and nest like an earworm as the bass rattles your soul. In “First Responders”, the song begins with a single vocalist, then switches to a more energetic feel like a vibrant sugar rush; another crispy 90’s style hip-hop drum beat, and glass rattling bass groove cements itself as the backbone of the song as a jazzy saxophone and twinkly bells support the main body-moving rhythm and melody. And in “The Mighty Tree,” a crackling kick and snare supports the melody provided by another synthesizer, pianos, and an ensemble of icy saxophones.

Even with the wide array of influences, styles, and members, Dinner Party isn’t cluttered with ideas that don’t pan out. Throughout the album, it’s a smooth roller coaster ride through the brain of each of the collaborators on the project, whether it be the cool-cat New Orleans jazz side of Kamasi Washington, Robert Glasper, and Terrance Martin, or the underground NYC hip-hop production of 9th Wonder. Dinner Party is a great break from any thought-provoking or tedious work in everyday life. Because of its laid-back instrumentals and calming vocal harmonies, it’s a great album to kick back and relax to. Dinner Party gifts their fans a water-tight tape dipped in a sugary coating of velvety jazz and New York City hip-hop.

Rating: 7/10