Alex Santos and Chris Woodward: Village Vanguard
Buzzin' Fly

“Village Vanguard” can't help but invoke associations with the incendiary live sets John Coltrane laid down at the legendary New York club, not to mention every other jazz figure who's commanded its tiny stage. But this being a Buzzin' Fly single, no one should expect to hear too much in the way of jazz triplets and horn soloing. Lisbon-based Alex Santos (erstwhile member of Rodamaal and Darkmountaingroup) and Londoner Chris Woodward (who had a hand in recent reworks of Foals' “Olympic Airways” and L Kubic's “Voyager”) do, however, bring their own brand of swing to two treatments of the track, the first the regular mix and the second a supposedly stripped-down affair with a solo-flying Woodward at the helm.

The main mix heads out on its nine-minute trek with a delicious minimal and neo-tribal house thrust that's nudged into jacking territory with the addition of claps and voice accents. The link to the NY club surfaces in the gorgeous, horn-fueled jazz accent that swoops in intermittently, arresting the forward motion for a moment with a magnificent, near-orchestral flourish that might remind listeners of a certain age of Gil Evans, the esteemed arranger best known for his collaborations with Miles (Sketches of Spain and Porgy and Bess obviously the most famous). Woodward's equally tasty re-rub is hardly skeletal but rather a percussive-heavy stepper the DJ sees fit to sprinkle with piano and animate with a deep bass pulse and funk-house swing. He's no fool, though: regardless of whatever other changes he makes, the jazz episode remains firmly in place and never sounds better than when it explodes halfway through the track like some brilliant meteor shower hurtling across the sky. If the balance in both versions still tips in dance music's direction, with the jazz interjection appearing rather like a pit stop during the race itself, it doesn't stop the track from feeling any less artful in its integration of the two genres.

March 2010