Review Summary: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
Blazo is a Polish producer who specializes in jazzy chillhop beats. This first Colors of Jazz record is his sophomore effort following his debut Alone Journey from 2009. Honoring its namesake, Colors of Jazz has a very strong emphasis on catchy jazz samples. All songs except one are named after different colors, each appropriately fitting with a particular song's mood. For example, the opening track, Natural Green, has a very bright, organic sound and a lively, happy-go-lucky piano melody. Whereas Distant Graphite revolves around a mysterious, reverb-drenched clean guitar sample, giving it a more far-flung feel. This record as a whole knows exactly what it wants to be and keeps its consistency throughout.
Leonardo da Vinci once said, "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." No album fits this quote better. While this is a very simple record, it is also undeniably classy and charming. Blazo follows the same formula with every track. Every track must have boom bap drums, subtle percussion, and a bassline complementing its respective sample. Each smooth sample ranges from piano, saxophone, guitar, strings, and flute instrumentation. Blazo has an incredible ear for chopping and looping samples and knowing how to balance everything out in the mix. The transitions throughout the tracklist flow like water. This project is so well mixed that I even had a moment of doubt about whether Blazo was actually sampling or not. The tone and warmth of the instruments on every track are so unfluctuating and constant. This is one of the cleanest records I've ever heard.
While Colors of Jazz's simplicity is one of its strengths, it is also its biggest flaw. Many of its songs are literally just four to eight bar measures looped for about three minutes. Reduce the treble for the "verse" sections and turn the treble up again for the "chorus" sections and you have a Blazo song. Illusive Azure is the most obvious culprit of this. The same four bars are looped for the entire three minutes of this song. Another example is Fragile Gold, consisting of one main section and an overlapping flute for the chorus. Songs like Smoky Grey and Misty Sapphire are a bit more ambitious with Grey switching up its musical motif and Sapphire offering some slight drum variation. Colors of Jazz clocks in at an unnecessary 53 minutes with its 18 tracks. This runtime could've been cut down considerably if more tracks were a little under two minutes like Brisk Yellow. Certain cuts from this record such as Sky Blue and Through the Jazz are two of the weaker tracks and are also two of the longest.
Colors of Jazz is one of my most listened to albums of all time. It is perfect for day-to-day listening and there is always a "color" that will fit how you feel. Every song could qualify for those 10-hour "homework edit videos" you see on YouTube. After listening so many times though, I just wish this record had taken some kind of risk, however small that risk may have been. A few of these songs are not as fleshed out as others and have ran dry with their repetition. At times, Colors of Jazz feels like a broken record skipping. What separates this album to others in its genre, like Modal Soul by Nujabes for example, is that Modal Soul had progression. The songs on Modal Soul felt like they were going somewhere. I love Colors of Jazz, but I can't lie and say it isn't a very static listen. However, what Blazo lacks in compositional ambition, he makes up for in making some of the catchiest, most infectious jazz chillhop you will ever hear. Simple, yet sophisticated.
RECOMMENDED TRACKS: Natural Green, Distant Graphite, Smoky Grey, Reflecting Purple