EP Review: “lil’ Blue Hat” (Jim Lang)

Reading Time: 3 minutesFebruary 22, 2022
EP Review: “lil’ Blue Hat” (Jim Lang)

It is often the odd release covers that can be deceiving … I almost skipped passed this somewhat simplistic 2-dimensional “cartoonish” cover (image left), it’s a good thing I didn’t! The music on this EP is everything except simplistic and 2-dimensional.

It turned out to be a “Jazz-Fusion” release with Nu-Jazz and Ambient-like elements, very relaxing, a perfect “lil’ trip” to escape from the hectic world we are living in. I felt totally “Zen” after listening to this EP, it’s like “meditation” for the Jazz-lover”.

The 5-track EP is tastefully recorded and mixed by Jim Lang himself. The EP features 4 musicians: Mark Leggett (guitarist, composer – track 1), Nick Kirgo (guitarist, composer – track 2), Sam Gendel (saxophonist, composer, producer, mulit-instrumentalist – track 3 & 5) and Noren Schmitt (guitarist and multi-instrumentalist – track 4).

Lang likes to describe himself as: “Composer, tinkerer with computers, synthesizers and wood and wire. Seeker of the simple melody.” He does seem to know himself pretty well, it describes this release pretty accurate. And I am glad it does … another great example that less is definitely more!

“Traction Master” (feat. Mark Leggett)

The EP starts with “Traction Master”, a “cinematic-like” Jazzbient (fusion between Jazz and Ambient) track with synths sounding like a “warning signal” that would fit perfectly well in a Sci-Fi movie soundtrack. An Organic sounding “Trip-Hop” groove comes in, accompanied by an “minimalistic” sounding reverb’d Grand Piano … Around 03:25 a “bendy” synth gives me the feeling I hear wales “converse” in an underwater world, the reverb’d piano and “bell-like” synths give it all a mystical ambiance. At approx. 04:40 a different “crunchy” sounding beat comes in, very cool “tinkering” with synths, and what sounds to me like delayed and reverb’d saxophone (I presume Sam Gendel, even though not mentioned featuring for this track) leads the track out.

“Groove Remote Confession Mix” (feat. Nick Kirgo)

This track has a soulful “R&B vibe” to it … Juicy Fender Rhodes, a Hammond with a “crunchy edge”… and – if you like the music of Ronny Jordan or George Benson – you will enjoy the soulful guitar playing by Nick Kirgo. The beat has a nice “lo-fi” sound to it, characteristic for some of the 90’s mellow “Jazz-Hop” tracks.

“Why Not Now” (feat. Sam Gendel)

This is my favorite track of the EP. The contrast during the intro between the “old school” synths – alike what early electronic music pioneers did – and the “woody” saxophone sound of, and “floaty” flute (I presume) by Sam Gendel sets a lovely atmosphere. I like Sam Gendel’s participation in this track very much, it really “lifts” the track to another level, jazz-wise. Lovely melodic “interaction” between saxophone and piano. The “trippy” drum groove is very organic sounding and jazzy.

“VOOMs” (feat. Noren Schmitt)

The “fluttery” Fender Rhodes feel like a “warm blanket” … the vinyl “crackle” gives you the feeling your are sitting near a cozy fire, accompanied by the warm transparent sounding acoustic guitar of Noren Schmitt. The reverb’d Rhodes feel like thoughts floating freely into the starry sky. Like with “Groove Remote Confession Mix” the beat has a mellow “lo-fi” feel, setting the track to an easy going pace. I could easily picture myself here chillin’ outdoors with friends during an autumn evening / night.

“Gauloises” (feat. Sam Gendel)

Gauloises” starts “mysteriously” … the verb’d piano sounds like smoke spiraling up from a lit Gauloise cigarette. During my time studying at the Conservatory (1998-2000) I still smoked and had a period Gauloises (Blondes Blue) was my brand. Gendel’s playing is hard to describe … it sounds very “fragile”, almost “shy” … with lots of “breathiness” in his sound. “Suspire” would be a way to describe it, a deep audible breath expressing relief, tiredness … but very beautiful and quite unique. I haven’t heard many saxophone recordings like that, the closest that comes to mind would be some recordings of Jan Garbarek, but what Gendel does is even much gentler.

Below some links to the website of Jim Lang and various online profiles. I hope you enjoy listening to this EP as much as I did.