Compared to the other outrageous jazz alumni on Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad’s Jazz Is Dead label, Katalyst is still a relatively new proposition: Inglewood, California, born in 2014. Each of the nine “Kats” is known for writing their own material. , then stitching it together with contributions from other members to create a soulful oblong quilt, building on and feeding off the overall community energy. It’s this collective mentality that unites Katalyst with the Jazz Is Dead brand. Because the Kats’ approach is based on the local incubator tradition that preceded them, namely the 1960s of Horace Tapscott’s Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra and the Union of God’s Musicians Ascension Association. And if there’s anything Younge and Muhammad‘s JID excites, it’s connecting the past—Los Angeles’ multiracial jazz past, in particular—with the present.
Drawing their roots from free jazz, postbop, scintillating R&B, sacred gospel and hip-hop, with Younge and Muhammad providing atmospheric magic at the helm of production, Katalyst blends peacefully and pastorally on tracks such as “The Avenues” – led with warlike cacophony through David Otis’ snake-charming tenor sax and Ahmad DuBose’s percussion – and “Daybreak”. The quiet, warm surrender of “Summer Solstice” and “Corridors” is deliberately interrupted by the eerily willowy keyboards and jerky rhythms of “Juneteenth,” a gently frantic but majestic song meant to recall all levels of the black, wounded, joy and holiness. By the time JID013 ends with the Steely Dan-ish “Dogon Cypher” and the moody and aptly titled “Reflections”, the listener gets an understanding of what it means to be part of the Katalyst fraternity: one time-tied together, the melody , the rhythm and causality of the Californian collective consciousness.