This week’s episode of Sonic Landscapes is brought you by none other than Comrade Dan Robbins, aficionado of all things tasteful. He provided us with a mix of music that will wash over you, a perfectly soothing culmination to a semester of diverse music fueled by the support of our diverse listenership.
Dan writes of this mix:
“With finals upon us, the perfect playlist becomes a strong cup of coffee. For me, it’s a sequence of tracks that accomplishes two seemingly contradictory goals: relaxation and motivation. To achieve this end, there’s little better than the wide world of jazz. This episode consequently follows the wise words of omniscient aesthete Nicole Richie: ‘Well, I enjoy every music from jazz to country, and I even get down with a bit of hip hop.’ The playlist is neither an exhaustive nor chronological exploration of the hotly debated genre. It’s instead a meandering through some of my favorite study tunes, sampling an ever-growing musical landscape of bebop revivalism, jazz-fusion, and funk-driven rap.”
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1. “I Want You Back” – Lake Street Dive 
A professor at Boston’s New England Conservatory put four of his best artists in a room and told them to make a free country / jazz crossover band. This (thankfully) is what they came up with. Tennessee vocalist Rachael Price has pipes nothing short of Elysian on their cover of The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.”
2. “The World is Yours/Brooklyn Zoo” – BADBADNOTGOOD 
Three hooligans from Toronto who concoct ridiculous mixes of hip hop and classical (Gucci Mane and Claude Debussy!?). They came onto the scene making music for Tyler, the Creator and Frank Ocean. This all-instrumental cover takes Nas’ “The World is Yours” into the late Old Dirty Bastard’s “Brooklyn Zoo.”
3. “Hottentot” – John Scofield 
One of the “big three” of current jazz guitarists (along with Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell), Scofield lays down some of the best distorted rock-jazz improvisations.
4. “Blackbird” – Brad Mehldau 
A cover worthy of the original Paul McCartney composition.
5. “I Know You Know” – Esperanza Spalding 
Spalding beat out Bieber for “Best New Artist” at the 2011 Grammys… and rightfully so.
6. “(Go) Get It” – Pat Metheny 
My first concert ever was the Pat Metheny Trio at Purchase College with my parents. Still one of the best.
7. “I Be Blowin'” – De La Soul 
Queens/Long Island rap legends De La Soul with Fred Wesley (then leader of James Brown band, the JB’s, and later part of Parliament-Funkadelic).
8. Transit Ride – Guru 
Guru – MC of Gang Starr – stacked up one of the most authentic jazz/rap fusion albums to date with the four-part Jazzmatazz. This track features hooks from legendary saxophonist Branford Marsalis and Zachary Breaux on guitar.
9. Cissy Strut – Dirty Dozen Brass Band 
A funky take on The Meters’ funky classic.
10. Salt Peanuts [Carnegie Hall Version] Dizzy Gillespie & Charlie Parker 
The origins of the now seminal “Salt Peanuts” motif remain debated. This song always makes me laugh, though, and the live 1945 cut kills it.
11. Body and Soul – Coleman Hawkins 
Hawkins’ “Body and Soul” has a distinctive cadence that paved the way in rejecting big band swing for a more assertive, expressive jazz.
12. Angelina – Earl Klugh 
A staple go-to-sleep song for me.
13. Mama Roux – Dr. John 
Inspired by medicine shows, Mardi Gras costumes, and voodoo ceremonies, this jazzy New Orleans track has one helluva hook. And Dr. John is one of the few dudes who can get away with wearing a long braid, feathered fedora, and earrings.