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Published: 2006/10/24
by Brad Farberman

Scotty Hards Radical Reconstructive Surgery John Medeski, Matthew Shipp – Scotty Hard

Thirsty Ear Recordings 57172.2

Swearing by Public Enemy’s Rebel Without A Pause, Canadian production genius Scotty Hard jumped ship in Vancouver for NYC circa 1988, and rocked it (err, produced it?) with artists like Prince Paul and De La Soul.

Ten years later, the man was running with a different crew. 1998 saw Hard producing on Medeski, Martin, and Wood's Combustication, a trend that continued on future releases The Dropper and Uninvisible. He produced Sex Mob’s Solid Sender, Sex Mob Does Bond, and Dime Grind Palace. He worked on Charlie Hunter’s Right Now Move, DJ Logic’s new Zen of Logic, and The Word’s self-titled record.

So if you haven’t noticed, Hard has swapped clientele a bit (and left his mark all over the Ropeadope catalogue). But the move from rap game to downtown jazznastyness was never a complete back-turner, and there are hints of hip-hop on Radical Reconstructive Surgery, the latest addition to Thirsty Ear’s impressive Blue Series.

The concept: Hard arranged for a jam session featuring ivory-ticklers John Medeski and Matthew Shipp, anchored by rhythm section stalwarts William Parker on bass and Nasheet Waits on drums (DJ Olive and drummer Mauricio Takara provide extra embellishment). Following the jam, Hard hunkered down behind the boards and made a record.

A damn good record. Shipp’s spooky acoustic piano cruises calmly over Hard’s programmed beats in “The General.” “Chance Operation” reeks of Dropper-era MMW, courtesy of Waits’ awesomely sloppy breakbeats and Medeski’s creepy, shimmering organ. But the best moments here do not stem from performances by any single musician. Radical Reconstructive Surgery is a real collaboration (with Hard leading the way, of course), and the coolest cuts feature Shipp’s sparse acoustic piano out front, with Medeski’s fiery organ licks right behind it.

WARNING: if you were reaching for your dancing shoes, don’t. This ain’t no Shackman. Hard’s new disc is full of dirty, scary, free-groove funkiness (again, think The Dropper). Not happy, hippie funkiness. True themes or melodies are few and far between. Experimentally delicious.

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