When Andreas Stevens, the San Diego trip-hop DJ otherwise known as Greyboy, started producing his own beats for Ubiquity Records in the early '90s, he recruited Karl Denson and a handful of other jazz musicians to spice things up by laying down some lush instrumentals on top of his breakbeat concoctions. The collaboration eventually led to the birth of a jam-band phenomenon in the Grey Boy All Stars (and even further down the road, it helped shed a little light on Denson's own boogaloo-flavored jam project).
Now, we're trying not to hold all this against Stevens, especially since his recent work is surprisingly straightforward compared to the output of most other trip-hop producers, who are all very concerned with being "nu-jazz" or "broken-beat" gurus. His Mastered the Art album, released in 2001, feels like a slow, smooth ride in a vintage MG along the coast of the Mediterranean. The mix tape in the stereo is bumping the perfect blend of funked-up hip-hop beats, but tantalizing vibraphone, flute, and horn solos keep floating in on a sea breeze, adding a touch of intimacy and mood without taking away the raw B-boy appeal of the beats. Hopefully, when he comes to town to DJ this Saturday, Stevens's record selections and precise scratching will strike the same satisfying balance.