Wednesday 22 December 2021

'Love of Humanity' by Panam Panic

While we're certainly a little late in discussing the latest album release by the Parisian quintet Panam Panic, in light of the flood of year-end lists readers will likely be stumbling across at this time of year, it would be remiss of us not to take time out to celebrate this incredible record.

Following the band's self-titled debut in 2010 and the subsequent follow-up 'The Black Monk' in 2015, 'Love of Humanity' brilliantly expands upon the wonderful lineage of Panam Panic releases continuing to build upon the groundwork as established some eleven years prior.  Dubbing themselves a "jazz groove band", the term doesn't actually do justice to the multitude of styles and influences that are infused within their representation of modern day jazz music.  Proudly showcasing their affections for hip-hop with subtle teases of electronica and neo-soul throughout their compositions, the quintet - as a collective and as individual musicians - each bring a wealth of experience to the project with such diverse backgrounds.  'Love of Humanity' is indicative of an exciting and wholly unique portrayal of jazz music in the modern era.

Headed up by band founder Robin Notte, the pianist, DJ and composer boasts a stunning resume of releases and collaborations in life leading up to Panam Panic with past projects including the Robin Notte Quintet, the electronica-inspired jazz of his project WISE and a host of live performances and studio collaborations with artists from the realms of jazz, soul and hip-hop.  But it's to the credit of all the Panam Panic band members whose devotion to their craft has seen each of them tour extensively and boast a variety of skills as performers, improvisers and in many cases, educators.  The current iteration of Paris' premier jazz groove band showcases the talents of trumpeter Alexandre Herichon, saxophonist Lucas Saint-Cricq, drummer Tao Ehrlich, bassist Pierre Elgrishi and of course Notte on the keys. 

Whether you've had the chance to see the band perform live or even if you've spent some time on their YouTube channel and lost yourself amongst the extensive fervent and high-energy live performances that are available for consumption, you'll instantly marvel at that incredible energy transitioning masterfully over to the studio when listening to 'Love of Humanity'.  The flawless near-seven minute title track and album opening number perfectly encapsulates everything great about the band as it transitions into different movements propelled by an inspired use of Charlie Chaplin's iconic monologue from 'The Great Dictator': "We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost..."  It's worrying that for a monologue written in 1940 how much of this still rings true to life over the past few years and it may very well be this that serves as the ultimate inspiration for 'Love of Humanity'.

In true Panam Panic fashion, the album relishes the gift of its boundary-less compositions and the freedom to walk its own path.  As mentioned at the outset of this review, 'Love of Humanity' is another testament to the Parisian quintet's thrilling interpretation of 21st century jazz and the boundless possibilities that lay before it.

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