Thursday, January 4, 2018
Butter smooth and breezin’ as Benson, flute phenom Azeem Ward’s Kaizen EP is a great and relaxing musical tonic, lounging somewhere mood-wise between hazy, late-afternoon kickback and sly, speakeasy-club vibes. The UCSB graduate, who drew worldwide admiration with his flutist finesse on high-profile platforms such as Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Vice magazine, and BuzzFeed, here brings to mind dreamy beaches and video-game hypnosis. Ward channels early Dr. Dre on opener “Mr. Bake (ft. Abram Miller)” as he floats in the higher octaves, and on the sultry, dubby tango of “Voodoo,” he moves up and down the scales with burning flare above a buzzing, velvety violin, à la Gotan Project. It’s a great accompaniment to moments of relaxation, contemplation, and other degrees of chill.