New Audio: Mocean Worker’s Propulsive, Swing-Era Jazz-Tinged House Music

Adam Dorn grew up obsessed with all things funk, and some of his earliest influences include Gap Band, Chic, Zapp, Brothers Johnson, Weather Report and others. Naturally, it was that obsession that drove a young Dorn to learn the electric bass and towards a career in music — first as a session musician and then as a highly acclaimed electronic music artist Mocean Worker. And as Mocean Worker, Dorn has been instrumental in pioneering what has been dubbed the “Electro Swing” movement, as his sound meshes modern beats and production techniques with old jazz samples — usually, along the lines of Duke Ellington and Count Basie. Interestingly, Dorn — as Mocean Worker, of course — has contributed music to a number of films and TV shows over the years, including the closing credits them to AMC‘s Better Call Saul and the Emmy nominated/NAACP Image Award-winning score for the documentary Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic, which has further expanded Dorn’s profile as both a sought after producer and artist.

Over the course of seven full-length Mocean Worker releases, Dorn managed to avoid playing bass, out of a concern that he might sound too much like renowned jazz bassist, Marcus Miller, whom Dorn had worked with and studied under throughout Dorn’s teens and twenties. Ironically, it was Miller, who had encouraged Dorn to play more bass, and it’s on Dorn’s eighth full-length Mocean Worker — the aptly self-titled effort — that features Dorn’s bass playing. As Dorn explains in press notes, “I felt like I’d finally developed a style as an artist that was identifiable enough as mine that, if I snuck my bass in there now, it’d be like, ‘Oh! He’s also pretty funky!'”

With Dorn’s bass playing, the soon-to-be released self-titled effort manages to mesh completely different eras and genres — 30s, 60s, 70s, 80s and today — in a playfully effortless yet forceful fashion. In fact, “Soul Swing,” pairs a twinkling, old-timey piano sample with explosive bursts of horn, woofer and tweeter rocking beats, forcefully pulsating synths and swirling electronics to create a swinging, swaggering and danceable song that bridges different eras by the one thing that could possibly unite them — an irresistibly  propulsive groove.