Jazz Artist Mike Casey Reimagines A Jay-Z Classic On Forthcoming Album

The saxophonist's version of "No Church in the Wild" will be featured on "Law of Attraction," due out in October.

As a self-described “melody poet,” saxophonist Mike Casey has made it his artistic mission to honor what he views as the standards of modern pop amidst original music and performances.

On Wednesday, Casey unveiled the music video for his version of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” viewable above. The 2011 hip-hop track, which featured vocals by Frank Ocean, has “long been one of my favorite songs,” he said, with a message that “stands for a lot of things to me.”

“I’m always of the mindset that music reflects life,” the 26-year-old Connecticut native, now based in New York, told HuffPost. “The lyrics are about questioning religion, authority and morality in certain ways. I’ll never forget hearing it on the radio for the first time and being completely in awe with how cinematic the storytelling was. It was something that always stuck with me.” 

“No Church in the Wild” will be featured on “Law of Attraction,” Casey’s fourth album as frontman of the Mike Casey Trio. Due out in October, the 15-track collection comprises standards like Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable” as well as original compositions. 

Jazz saxophonist Mike Casey will release his fourth album, “Law of Attraction,” in October. 
Jazz saxophonist Mike Casey will release his fourth album, “Law of Attraction,” in October. 

Like many jazz musicians, Casey grew up studying the work of Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and other greats. As his own improvisational style has evolved, however, so has his taste for pop, R&B and hip-hop. In additional to original music, his live shows have featured songs by Soundgarden and Queen, among other artists. 

As such, “Law of Attraction” represents his latest effort to encourage audiences to see jazz as an evolving musical genre as opposed to one rooted solely in the past.

“Part of jazz culture is playing standards, but those were simply pop tunes of their time,” he said. “Of course, I like to learn those. But the pop music of my generation is really important and vital, too.” 

Even politics make an appearance on the album’s second single, “Feel the Bern,” an homage to former White House hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“He’s an underdog who doesn’t give up, which I definitely identify with,” Casey said of Sanders, who ended his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination earlier this month. “He’s one of the first politicians that really made me inspired, and pay attention to politics in a way that I hadn’t previously in my life. He’s a hero of mine and someone who’s always thinking about the future in a very progressive way.” 

Casey had hoped to launch the next chapter of his career with a showcase at South by Southwest (SXSW) last month. While that gig was canceled with the rest of the festival amid the coronavirus pandemic, he’s slated to return to the concert stage June 27 in New York, with additional dates to follow in the fall.

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