With Yussef Dayes' reimagining of Stanley Clarke's Yesterday's Princess + Curren$y's Job finally hitting Youtube again yesterday I thought today would prove an excellent time to revisit another track from the drum phenom with an unfathomably tight set of performances from himself, Alfa Mist, Mansur Brown and Rocco Palladino on 2018's Love Is The Message.
Yussef Dayes x Alfa Mist - LOVE IS THE MESSAGE (live at Abbey Road studios) ft. Mansur Brown & Rocco Palladino [Jazz] - United Kingdom
Yussef Dayes - Drums
Alfa Mist - Keys
Mansur Brown - Electric Guitar
Rocco Palladino - Electric Bass
Love Is The Message lives in the pocket, and it is buried in the pocket. As soon as Alfa Mist's whirling synth echoes start fading out and Yussef makes that (so very) satisfying hit at [1:04] the groove is locked in and this tune starts its little floating voyage out into cosmic waves. As expected from an Abbey Road session the recording is effortlessly smooth, rendering even the top end of Dayes' cymbal splashes satisfyingly warm to hear at loud volumes. The drums cut through gorgeously over Mist's sedated synth soundscapes and Mansur Brown's screaming lead - slotting together with jigsaw-like perfection through the addition of (son of Pino) Palladino's bass tones. It is welcomed from the mix that Mist and Palladino rarely feel drowned out in the presence of an energetic Dayes' and the spacious reverb of Brown's effects loop. The ensemble sound tight and perfectly balanced by the wonderful job of Tony Hulburt (recording), Rory Cashmere (mixing) and Alex Gordon (mastering) and I am here for it - good job lads.
Palladino goes properly Dilla with a meticulously off-time "drunk" feel bassline from [1:45] moving into the first head, colouring wonderfully outside the lines of the groove and then catching up to the beat with an impeccable fluidity. He tones the fun down for the second go around but don't worry, Rocco will start doing some more fun stuff from around [6:30]. The piece moves through a lovely little progression from Mist between [2:18-2:28] and coming into the first head we see the first creepings of a suggestion that there may well be a show-stealing performance from Mansur Brown on this track, disconcertingly staring right at you through the camera lens while gliding around a fret-wrapped Epiphone Sheraton.
Palladino looks about as pleased with himself as a bassist is permitted to after a tasty fill at [3:09] - but I wish I could've seen his face at the lick he rips out at [3:23] because it is tasty as hell, and what Dayes is doing on the hi-hat and snare shouldn't be allowed. Brown holds back to start off - the first refrain being positively subdued by his standards - but moving via a particularly nice lead up from Dayes [4:15-4:26] Brown starts throwing his weight around.
Have you seen someone rip a fretboard apart this calmly before? Better yet, someone rip a fretboard apart this calmly while playing a semi-hollow body guitar? The spacey overdrive of the lead would almost be funny coming from a guitar like that if it didn't sound so good. How is he getting the clarity and resonance in his tone from that instrument? Show us your pedalboard you coward. Maybe the secret is all hidden up in the black fretwrap right at the top of the guitar's neck. Yussef isn't exactly cutting any corners during this screamer of a solo either, but at least with this drummer you can see every single ounce of concentration bursting through the intensely pained expression on his face. No such emotion with Mansur. Cold and deadly. The Anthony Martial of jazz.
I'm glad that cameramen Joseph Dunn and Jake Whitehouse knew what they were doing in filming this video and gave us a good look at what each of our soloists are doing - but as a guitarist myself I wonder if I was better off not knowing the extent of Mansur Brown's talents. I am extraordinarily jealous of so much of Brown's guitar ability - but the outrageous legato at [4:51-5:06] takes the piss. You can see his face while he's playing this stuff - he's not breaking a sweat - ridiculous. Not taking anything away from the drum fills at [5:06], [5:14] and [5:22] though, being equally mesmerising.
Post-solo, Dayes breaks things apart, messing about rhythmically while withholding a hugely satisfying release of tension until [5:57] (listen to that cymbal - so mint). Here Mist gets a chance at the forefront and plays exactly what he needs to, softly paddling the keys before we move in to a superb little moment of captivating anticipation from [6:26-6:50] landing with an indescribably powerful weightiness through Dayes' groove and Palladino's pitch shifted bass sound. The connection between the drummer and bassist here is so, so good. No communication required, they always know where they are in relation to each other. Those triplet bass drum kicks are audio-filth, the push at [7:00] is fit and I've got a whole lot of time for that single tom hit at [7:34]. These are some deep pockets to get lost in - so I'm glad we haven't lost our keys.
Things start ratcheting up from [8:45] from Dayes' and Palladino's funk dialogue into the last breaths of Love Is The Message. Brown again just sounds so good but listen real close between [9:28-9:54] for Mist's magnificent chord choices, filling the space in behind Brown's screaming Epiphone with exactly the right momentum to keep the intensity of the lead propelled forward. Rocco's fill at [9:23] is obscene. Another utterly laser-guided drum fill at [9:29]. The whole band is locked in, evident in the visible energy of the room in the way these performers connect together in the space. By the time this track finishes, the laughter that slides through after the instruments stop their noise is testament to a group that knew exactly how good they were and how phenomenal this take was. What an absolutely outstanding performance from some of the most technically impressive musicians currently playing.
Somehow, returning to this video has made me even more enamoured with the sheer personality of the sound on show. Each instrumental voice holds such a powerful identity in the mix of Love Is The Message that it feels unfair to talk about any of them without immediately jumping to contextualise it among three other exceptional performances. This is a great piece, and an amazing rendition of it, and I hope you all agree with myself and the 2 million other views its amassed over the past year. I'm glad Dayes' Yesterday's Princess finally got itself back on the (internet) airwaves. It gave me an excuse to dig up this gem and talk about it in all this excruciating detail for you all to not read.
Ben Wheadon, December 2019
Love Is The Message // Live at Abbey Road Studios
Written & Produced by Yussef Dayes & Alfa Mist
Feat. Mansur Brown - Guitar
Rocco Palladino - Bass
Filmed by Joseph Dunn & Jake Whitehouse
Recorded by Toby Hulbert Mixed by Rory Cashmere
Mastered by Alex Gordon
Garms & Styling by Nicholas Daley
Cashmere Thoughts Recordings ©
Thanks for reading! Slow Motion Panic Masters is a music, arts and culture blog created and edited by Ben Wheadon, a literature student and musician based in London, England. Subscribe to our mailing list below to be alerted every time a post is published on the site.