Max Jury knew he wanted something different.
Sure, the Iowa native impressed on his debut album - he's put his heart and soul into it, after all - but there was just something missing.
Enter Robin Hannibal. The Grammy nominated producer is steeped in music, and helped Max Jury realise his vision for incoming album 'Modern World'.
Harnessing his knowledge of jazz and soul, Max Jury has crafted a multi-faceted jewel, working alongside some of the top session players in the game.
Set to be released later this year, 'Modern World' fully displays Max Jury's virtuoso musicality. Clash caught up with the American artist to dissect his passion for jazz...
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John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman - 'My One And Only Love'
My favourite song on one of the most beautiful albums history has to offer. There is something pure and unpretentious about this recording. Johnny Hartman’s voice is so technically impressive - but even more impressive is his ability to transcend that technique and convey emotion. You don’t hear notes, you hear music! And Coltrane’s playing is understated and beautiful.
The rumour is each track on the album was recorded in either one or two takes. Oof, different times. I can barely sing a chorus without yelling for the engineer to punch me in.
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Chet Baker - 'It Could Happen To You'
Chet is quite obviously a big influence of mine. I’ve always been drawn to the tone of his voice, and I find it really fascinating how his trumpet playing influenced his singing. He has incredible breath support and phrasing - but what I find most special is his unique sense of dissonance.
Before making my second album, I didn’t really approach top line writing with the awareness that maybe adding more dissonant notes and color tones could improve the overall melodic structure of my songs. But I started asking myself WHAT WOULD CHET DO? And I think that really opened my mind to new and foreign ideas.
Playing around with all those 9’s and 13’s actually ended up sounding quite Sade at times - an interesting parallel! I chose this particular song because the scat solo is insane.
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Joao Gilberto - 'Estate'
My obsession with Brazilian music is in full bloom, but it started around the time I was making my next record. I heard this song in a bar in Highland Park and I was blown away. The introductory string arrangement is so lush and warm, I immediately fell in love. And Gilberto’s voice - hushed and effortless, but never stagnant. If I could only listen to one type of music the rest of my life I’m sure it would be Brazilian. No doubt. There are a few bossa nova rhythms on my next record, but it’s something I’d like to further explore.
You can’t go wrong with Gilberto, but I chose this particular song because it’s from the late 70’s and... I don’t know... it feels a bit decadent and self indulgent. A lot of 60s Bossa Nova numbers are quite short and cute (which I love) but this one sounds like Gilberto was in a less commercial headspace.
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Charles Mingus - 'Ecclusiastics'
Such a sick track. Mingus on vocals and piano which from my understanding is a bit of a rarity. Spiritual Jazz. You can hear a lot of gospel influence.
I’m including it in this list because I think it’s a great example of something I often forget about when making a record - DYNAMICS. One second he’s screaming and chanting about JESUS, the next second he’s all quiet at the piano playing some Chopin shit. Rarely does music sound this alive, which is much more difficult to accomplish than one may think.
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Mary Lou Williams - 'A Fungus Amungus'
This isn’t a direct influence necessarily but I had to include it because it’s a testament to what the human mind and body is capable of. The queen of jazz piano at work.
I’m pretty sure she was a mentor to Thelonious Monk (not the other way around) and you can hear her influence on him in this recording. I love listening to music that’s operating on a different wavelength than me. If I’m bumping some Steely Dan I’ll say this is amazing, but I see what they did there. I can follow it. I can’t follow this. Genius.
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Jan Hammer Group - 'Don’t You Know'
This is more of a jazz-pop-rock fusion track. But a good one at that. Pillow-biting groove. Insane early Moog sounds. Fender Rhodes chuggin' away. Double track vocals stereo panned. A little bit of Jan Hammer in each ear. Is he the one actually singing? I’m not sure. Oh well, this is a nice track to add to the party mix everyone will start dancing AND they will think you have an above average knowledge of the rare grooves.
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Betty Carter - 'Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most'
Making my second album was very much a learning process. I wanted to become a better singer. And that meant obsessively studying great singers. Betty Carter is not of this world. Her tone, her control, her range, her instincts - all poetry and really quite adventurous.
Much like the John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman recording, this feels pure. Unadulterated by human constructs. How would you even dare talk about A&Ring this? You wouldn’t. It’s the soul speaking through music. I don’t have heroes, but Betty Carter singing this song is my hero.
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'Modern World' will be released on May 31st. Catch Max Jury at London's Lexington on June 4th.
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