My good friend Maggie shared this recording with me and boy did she score some music suggestion points with me! If I had heard this record when it was released in 2020 it would have made my top five and competed for number one. It is that good.
BY.ALEXANDER AKA Alex Da Kid and born Alexander Junior Grant is a Brit loaded with talent and drive. As a record producer he has been nominated for an Album of the Year Grammy for his work on Rhianna’s Loud album and produced the “Radioactive” anthem by Imagine Dragons. He has also worked with Eminem, Dr. Dre. and produced Nikki Minaj’s “Massive Attack”. The man has dated Halle Berry. He is a partner in the Kanu Private Island. He bought this $7.6 million house in midst of the pandemic. If you take some time to look at his journey from semi professional soccer player to music icon, it is fascinating. Much of it covered here all the way back in 2011. The paragraph I wrote on its own is a fascinating biography.
But, who is he when it comes to the album 000 CHANNEL BLACK?
I had to do some digging to figure this out. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to figure it out by just googling. So I messaged BY.ALEXANDER on Insta while he was living it up on his island and soon after he most generously hit me back. Here is what I asked.
Me: Is BY.ALEXANDER your artist name, designer brand name, both, or is 000 CHANNEL BLACK the fashion brand?
Alex: BY.ALEXANDER is the name for everything creative I do moving forward. 000 CHANNEL BLACK is the name of the first album.
Me: The fashion brand website link does not work, is that still a thing?
Alex: Yes. The first collection sold out…more is coming!
Me: Did Blue Note distribute this in the UK only?
Alex: Blue Note helped to distribute it worldwide.
Me: How did you connect with Gary Busey?
Alex: I have been a fan of Gary for a while..So who better than him to be my male muse for my first collection. I reached out and he was happy to accept the challenge. Plus, I thought he would be a good counterbalance to my female muse Irina Shayk
Me: Is the record available on vinyl?
Alex: Yes. It sold out. I will be pressing more.
Me: What are you most proud of about this record?
Alex: The honesty. It is a true reflection of where I was when I made it. It was not diluted by anything!
Me: What should we know about you that we don’t know?
Alex: That this is just the start! I am so passionate about where this is going. I have not released anything for a while as I wanted to truly live this for a while. I wanted to see how it felt to take this turn in my career. And it feels amazing on so many different levels. 2022 will be the year of doing.
The album starts out with the straight ahead jazz piece, “le merveilleux re’sume’” featured in the video at the top of this post. It draws us into its depth from the get go. At this point there is no telling where the record will go. Is this some type of jazz interlude or is this as jazzy as it will get? Or…..
“TRUMPETS”, really doesn’t clarify it with the auto tuned vocal of 070 Shake. But, that auto tune voice is so alluring and still bathed in jazz. There is no way of getting around the bass line on the first two tracks and it sets the tone for the rest of the record. I can’t get over how much I love the approach of this record and its results. And the simple answer to what part jazz plays in the whole of the album is that this is a jazz record.
“the absence” is a straight up instrumental with a bass, piano and drums trio feel. “STALLING” rides that bass line again, with a lovely female vocal. “BLOOM IN PARIS” is a subtle piano piece with what sounds like an interview with Charles Bukowski talking about his “Love is a Dog From Hell” poetry collection. This track is a gradual journey into a more abstract piece of electronic music. a’’l’extereiur is our first entry into a sax led song. Or is it a wobbly something? I personally get Gerald Albright’s Live At Birdland West vibes from the sax and B3 here.
“DEAR THERAPIST” is my favorite track and the most beautiful, hypnotizing piece of music on the whole album. This drops like a Vince Guarldi piece with the sweeping brushing of the cymbals. The gentle vocal is pure unrestrained poetry. “THE CHEF AND THE DJ”, is our venture into jazz spiced up with dance; bordering on house. “My Margaret” is the strongest R&B cut here featuring the vocals of Rainsford. “FAITH” is a meditation marching to beauty.
000 CHANNEL BLACK concludes with “THE MONSTER & THE MUSE ” where the subtle conversation makes you feel like you are eavesdropping on someone’s dinner conversation with their own personal piano player. It is like a warm cozy home moment you get to be a part of.
When I think of what modern day jazz should be; this is what I think it should be. Immersed in the tradition of straight ahead jazz with elements of overproduction that work because you can tell the artist is rooted in jazz history. It also works because the spoken word and vocals that are used in this piece are so well thought out and well-placed. My personal taste of never liking more than one vocal on a jazz record gets challenged by BY.ALEXANDER. Because every time there are vocals on this jazz record they work and are a testament to Alex Da Kid’s production skills.
This should be a model for all modern day jazz. I really believe there is the opportunity to bring in the younger generation to the beauty of this genre of music. If you are a jazzhead This album feels like an entry point you can share with those you wish would jump into this category of music. Jazz is so varied in its forms this record helps a newbie touch all forms of it.
I think back on how St. Germain’s The Tourist flipped jazz upside down on its head with the pristine marriage of jazz and acid jazz in ways that were fresh and new at the time. I think BY.ALEXANDER has done the same here. Tell me what you think in the comments. And thanks for being here.