Dinner Party: Enigmatic Society review – slinky, synthy R&B

A supergroup of superstar jazz musicians might bring all sorts of supersized soloing to mind, but Dinner Party – saxophonists Terrace Martin and Kamasi Washington, pianist Robert Glasper and producer 9th Wonder – have a more egoless, less noodlesome ethos.

Their eponymous debut EP, which landed like a balm amid summer 2020, was a slick and balanced serving of classic hip-hop, jazz and R&B with old soul sensibilities, the remix of which earned a Grammy nod. This second helping, arriving at short notice ahead of a Coachella performance this weekend, brings in 80s synths and bigger earworms on tracks such as Insane.

The band’s easy-breezy electro-R&B, with brilliant vocals from Ant Clemons, Arin Ray, Tank and returning guest Phoelix, feels distinctly LA, so much so that this album could have soundtracked a season of Insecure (RIP). There’s even a nod to yacht rock on the Hall & Oates-interpolating Can’t Go. And yet sublime moments such as the piano outro of Answered Prayer, the shimmering, synthesised harp of For Granted, or the serpentine G-funk slink of Watts Renaissance – which is almost certainly bringing saxy back – are reminders of their trump cards.

While many mainstream acts lean on jazzists to lend some flair, it’s rare that it goes the other way. But Dinner Party bring serious chops to contemporary music’s top table.