Djesse Vol. 1

Djesse Vol. 1

Jacob Collier’s second outing is actually four outings, being released over the course of a year, and Vol. 1 leads off in breathtakingly ambitious style. The young British singer, multi-instrumentalist, and part-time music-theory pedagogue brings every ounce of his stunning virtuosity to bear on Djesse (pronounced Jesse), but also has at his disposal a full orchestra and conductor. He uses them not for pleasant lite-classical wallpaper but as a means to heighten sonic and textural impact, rendering an already large musical canvas even larger. Collier’s synthy blend of melodic pop, R&B, and funk, ramped up with an expert’s grasp of jazz harmony and technique, is transformed by versatile strings and brass and all manner of orchestral percussion—bells, field drum, marimba. The guembri (Moroccan lute) and voice of North African Gnawa musician Hamid El Kasri on “Everlasting Motion” mark another departure as familiar songs by The Police and Lionel Richie become kaleidoscopic wonders, exploding with ideas.

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