J-Treole are a quartet from the London area who fuse Jazz and Hip-Hop to create a fresh, live-sounding mix on their debut CD, entitled "Minor Details". Immediate comparisons may initially and inevitably focus upon the influence of Philadelphia act The Roots, who arguably invented the concept of a rapper backed up by a live band – if, that is, one may ignore for a second the influence of earlier pioneers such as Gil Scott-Heron.
Ultimately, fans of either act are unlikely to be disappointed with the tunes on show on this five-track EP. The elements combined by the four musicians are essentially traditional by today's standards but nonetheless subtly inventive and whilst vocalist (and tenor saxophonist) Mfon Essien may not execute his flows with the breath-taking technicality of the Roots' Black Thought, his words as delivered are swift, flowing and full of character and gentle charisma.
Together, the tones of note and speech form a captivating whole and it was with regret that I noted the 17-odd minute running time to have passed, pleasantly and without undue disturbance. Not that this CD fails to make an impact – rather, the feel of the whole is natural and the mood changes smoothly when transitioning from track to track. Mfon's subject matter doesn't always jump out and grab your attention, but only in such a way as to add to the charmingly woozy, loosely-focussed quality of the whole.
"Minor Details" is clearly the product of a huge amount of passion and work and the talent here is manifest. I can recommend a purchase of the CD without question and am keen now to see the band live if the opportunity presents itself.
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