As such, Shades of Blue, Madlib's reconstruction of the Blue Note Records catalogue, could've been the frightening proposition of getting that chick you've been attracted to for a long time. The first name in jazz labels has previously tried getting down with hip-hop by allowing sample-minded suitors to fumble in its tape drawers, with results that veered between yawning and flaccid. Luckily, sampling has rarely been 'Lib's aphrodisiac; so, as the title implies, his invasion is about working in the Blue shadows of inspiration, not sweating "Straight, No Chaser" for a hook.
Madlib spends part of his time tweaking classics and favorites, tastefully adding beats, scratches and instrumental hip-hop vibe to Three Sounds' "Look of Slim" (now the original "Slim's Return"), giving trumpeter Donald Byrd's "Stepping Into Tomorrow" a heavy Philly soul, dance-floor groove. Other times, he covers songs under his numerous jazz-cat pseudonyms: The Joe McDuphrey Experience, a cut-up keyboard "trio," creates an electric haze from a medley of Horace Silver's "Peace" and Herbie Hancock's "Dolphin Dance," and Yesterday's New Quintet's swirling three-percussion sketch of Wayne Shorter's "Footprints" is beat-happy expressionism. Standard-jazz pacing is dragged into a new age -- the continuous mix showing off Madlib's skills as collagist, programmer and historian -- finally turning the Blue Note that Madlib's uncle trumpeter Jon Faddis knew into something colorblind kids can play, too.