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The Royal Krunk Jazz Orkestra – Get It How You Live

July 28, 2018

“What is The Royal Krunk Jazz Orkestra?” you’re asking, right? Well, very interesting for starters. Founded by laid-back, unassuming two-time Grammy nominee trumpeter/producer/arranger/composer/ Russell Gunn, an Atlanta, GA, resident, the RKJO is a natural mashup of the traditional Jazz Big Band with R&B and Southern Hip-Hop sensibility. The band played live weekly for over a year, with Gunn providing the vision and inspiration for the band to embrace and follow. Once the natural language was fully mature, they headed into the studio to record Get It How You Live, their debut album.

We are, of course, familiar with various mashups involving smooth jazz & R&B, smooth jazz & Latin jazz, and smooth jazz & new age/World music. Then, there’s keyboardist/composer/arranger/producer David Garfield is currently undertaking his own mashup series featuring jazz and other genres (that’s another review, however). Adding to this melting pot now is this big-band-traditional-jazz-meets-southern-hip- hop-and-R&B thang. This is where things get—as I said at the outset– very interesting.

Offering full-bodied, innovative covers of such tunes as Shai’s “If I Ever Fall In Love,” a Switch medley (old school R&Bers should remember them), and brow-raising originals with solid vocals delivered by Grammy-winning vocalist Dionne Farris and Dashill Smith, this one gets the imagination going early on.

The music here challenges your concept of jazz hybrids and takes you into a zone you may never have visited.

Admittedly, I personally found a few of the tracks a little too horn-busy and loud, but jazz is a genre full of ideas and creativity, and this music expresses both eloquently. It stretches the musical psyche to new heights. Jazz purists and R&B music lovers alike will find something intriguing here. Experience this. – Ronald Jackson