Putting a bunch of highly talented people in the same room doesn’t always produce stellar results. Such is not the case for Dinner Party, a group of superb instrumentalists and virtuosic producers that have been in each other’s musical orbit for a long time. Comprised of Robert Glasper, Terrace Martin, Kamasi Washington and 9th Wonder, the supergroup’s self-titled project is a celebration of camaraderie and collaboration.
The seven featured tracks stand at the crossroads at which several black genres intersect, offering a mixture of kaleidoscopic soul grooves and colorful jazz-tinged hip-hop instrumentals. Carefully placed fragments of vintage soul and jazz samples and live instrumentation accentuate the beauty of each composition, adding immensely to the album’s gorgeous sense of melody without suffocating it. Whether it’s smooth flourishes of piano (“Sleepless Nights”), elegant horn riffs (“First Responders”) or funky and fractured percussion (“Love You Bad”), the magic of the record lies in how it seamlessly blends the aptitude of each member’s skill set. Also appearing on four songs is Chicago-based singer and producer Phoelix, whose silky falsetto works perfectly in conjunction with the album’s steady rhythmic pulse. He especially shines on the endearing ode “From My Heart and My Soul” and on perhaps the record’s dreamiest tune, the painfully beautiful anti-police brutality track “Freeze Tag.”
Dinner Party is a short but rewarding album that breathes fresh life into traditional sounds. Its level of quality gives a sense of how deep each group member’s talents run but more importantly, it illuminates a vibe and cheerfulness only attainable when collaborators are closely bonded by friendship.