This collaboration between seasoned jazz exponents and Guru (b. Keith Elam, 18 July 1966, Roxbury, Massachusetts, USA) of Gang Starr has proved to have an enduring commercial and creative shelf life.
Some of the names involved in the first instalment included N’Dea Davenport (Brand New Heavies), Carleen Anderson, Courtney Pine, Branford Marsalis, Roy Ayers, Donald Byrd, Lonnie Liston Smith and French rapper MC Solaar. An inventive combination, highlighted by a single, ‘No Time To Play’, featuring the vocals of Dee C. Lee (Style Council), which in turn helped relaunch the latter’s career. The Jazzmatazz project’s roots were undoubtedly laid in Gang Starr’s ‘Jazz Thing’, a collaboration with Marsalis which Spike Lee has used to theme his movie, Mo’ Better Blues. A second volume, featuring a duet with Chaka Khan and production work by the Solsonics, was released in 1995. The third volume, released in October 2000, pursued an edgier, urban sound with contributions from Macy Gray, Donell Jones, Angie Stone, the Roots, Kelis, Craig David, with production work by Guru, Dallas Austin, the Neptunes, and DJ Scratch.