ALBUM REVIEW : VARIOUS ARTISTS, “Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool” (<i> GRP</i> ) ***
“Stolen Moments” is the hip-hop generation’s “Fathers and Sons,” as a variety of rap and pop stars jam with the jazz players whose music they’ve absorbed. Of the two CDs, the first is tipped decidedly in the pop direction, the second, with Branford Marsalis’ tribute to John Coltrane and vintage recordings of Pharoah Sanders and Alice Coltrane, looks the other way.
The best numbers jump out from the mundane few. M.C. Solaar and bassist Ron Carter (who’s crossed over before with A Tribe Called Quest) work up heavyweight grooves, while Me’Shell NdegeOcello makes for a tight fit with a funky Herbie Hancock. Groove Collection’s “Rent Strike” jumps without benefit of words while the Watts Prophets, rap’s elder statesmen, take a strong political stance on their cut with trumpeter Don Cherry. Best all around is Digable Plants and Lester Bowie, whose Brass Fantasy recordings have infrequently matched the soaring trumpeter with pop material.
But not everything works. Trumpeter Donald Byrd, one of the most sampled jazz men around, finds his work with guitarist Ronny Jordan defaced by lazy-paced raps from Guru (Keith Elam) and Natty. The Pharcyde’s safe-sex message on “The Rubber Song” is buried in laughably crass lyrics. And the disc’s sound quality is strictly boom-box, fine for the rappers, but demeaning to the instrumentalists.
Hip-hop fans may find United Future Organization’s rhythmic rehash of “Stolen Moments” too slick. But for jazz fans looking for something new, it’s a fine introduction to the rhythms of the street.