Just when you think you’ve got the measure of Terrace Martin, he surprises you yet again. The Los Angeles born musician and producer has worked with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Talib Kweli and Robert Glasper, not to mention playing a major role in shaping Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. Martin’s latest album, Velvet Portraits, is a stunning chameleon of a record with enough musical hues to match an Ikea colour chart.
Velvet Portraits is a record that oozes emotion, and the diversity on offer is so broad that it’s impossible to encapsulate it all here. There’s Roy Ayers-style jazz (‘Valdez Off Crenshaw’), the wonky funk of Parliament (‘Turkey Taco’), the cool funk of Isaac Hayes with a touch of big band (‘Push’), soft soul serenades of the Temptations variety, and even a touch of Daft Punk-style robotic vocals (‘With You’).
In addition to a myriad of musical styles, there are a bevy of guest appearances on the album, and all of them push the quality bar higher still. Kamasi Washington, Robert Glasper and Thundercat bring an extra instrumental flourish to their tracks. Meanwhile, Tiffany Gouche and Lalah Hathaway are magnet, Rose Gold delivers bright vocals akin to Mahalia, and Tone Trezure and Uncle Chucc both hit you with deep, powerful gospel croons, reminiscent of Stevie Wonder and Bobby Womack, that you won’t soon forget.
Terrace Martin’s Velvet Portraits is brilliant. Breathlessly brilliant. From its wonky funk and spacy jazz to its knockout vocal performances, it’s a sublime album from a creative genius.
Velvet Portraits is out now on Sounds of Crenshaw/Ropeadope.
Image: Terrace Martin