Review - Stevie

Artist: Yesterday's New Quintet

Stevie
Label: Stones Throw
Media: CD
Format: Album
WorkNameSort: Stevie

Cover/tribute albums are always a tricky thing, as their intended praise for the source material can easily turn into blasphemy. Occasionally, though, the results fall somewhere between homage and desecration; enter exhibit A: "Stevie" by Yesterday's New Quintet. It's here that we find a note-for-note recreation of several classic Stevie Wonder cuts performed not by five people, but one; YNQ is simply a misleading nom de guerre of the very singular Madlib (aka Quasimoto, DJ Rels and Loop Digger). Born Otis Jackson, Jr., nephew of legendary jazz trumpeter Jon Faddis, he's also half of JayLib and Madvillain, and a well-known producer. A natural, yes, but if you're expecting practice-makes-perfect virtuosity, well, Otis isn't quite up to the wonder of Stevie. But somehow, his faltering through these shortened and purely instrumental renditions actually adds a little charm to them. That said, "Stevie" might have been a project better attempted after Madlib/YNQ had fully honed his chops on the Rhodes organ. Although most Stevie purists will probably turn up their noses at this, Madlib completists will be thrilled that it's finally getting a proper release, after at least two different vinyl bootlegs have been floating around for over a year.

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