“Jazz?” is a compilation of one-off recordings composed mostly by Anderson, a kind of tour de force reminiscent of Prince’s early albums because Anderson plays most of the parts. The tracks range from watery, poetic contemplations of “Death” to raw expressions of anger and frustration depicted in “A Night in Milwaukee.” This track mixes Jordan Lee’s samplings of news reports of recent police shootings of a young Black man in Sherman Park with a frenetic version of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Night in Tunisia” played by Anderson’s jazz trio Stomata.
There’s a darkness here, even with the seemingly cheerfully titled song “The Pomegranate,” which the musician introduces simply by saying, “This is Jay Anderson and this is how I feel about the pomegranate.” Here he plays both clarinet and piano, offering up a saturnine reflection that illustrates Anderson’s respect for the spaces between the notes. “Hashish” brings back the “I cannot die” refrain of the first track with Anderson playing all the instruments in an exoctic Middle Eastern-inspired exploration of altered states.
“Off the Grid” is the most traditional uptempo Jazz/House cut on the album. A collaboration between Anderson and Christian Strehlow of NOH Life Collective, the track combines house music where Strehlow produced the beats with Anderson’s live saxophone. The last track, incredibly titled “The Superpsychedelicalization of Hypersexuality in Stasis Existence,” is reminiscent of a 1930s soundtrack to a film noir film where the character is lost, hallucinating and moved to explore the excesses of human experience. Anderson played all the parts: bass, drums, piano, alto saxophone, soprano sax, baritone sax, flute and bass clarinet. Inspired by Charles Mingus, Anderson says it’s about “being in the middle of a super strong psychedelic trance when you feel like you’re getting ripped apart.”
“Jazz!” was produced, mixed and mastered by Kiran Vee (Q the Sun), Anderson’s bandmate in the popular group New Age Narcissism. Kellen “Klassik” Abston produced “Death” in his studio, recording Anderson’s original poem which was inspired by Fela Kuti’s quote, “I cannot die, for I have death in my pouch.”