I’ve always admired the mentality of Jazz artists. They’ve never been afraid to experiment, especially when it comes to using new instruments, new sounds, and merging with genres. Hip-Hop was starting to explode in the early 1980′s and several Jazz artists decided to try their hand at hip-hop/jazz fusion. When most people think of the two genres together, Herbie Hancock‘s “Rockit” comes to mind, released in 1983. However, the Jazz collective Pieces of a Dream did it first with “Mt. Airy Groove” released in 1982.
Pieces of a Dream was produced by the oft-sampled saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. I was only a baby when the song was released, but I imagine the cut got heavy rotation from DJ’s at Hip-Hop parties back then. The irony of this song, is that it was sampled by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five for “It’s a Shame“. Why is that ironic? Peices of a Dream were trying to emulate the sound of groups like the Furious Five. The Furious Five probably had similiar sounding beats to “Mt. Airy Groove” already.
Check out the classic cut and next time someones references Herbie Hancock as the first to blend Jazz and Hip-Hop, pull out this track.