Elvis Costello has recorded an album with the Roots. Following collaborations with Burt Bacharach, Bill Frisell and the composer Richard Harvey, the singer’s hip-hop team-up will come out later this year.
"It was really love at first sight," ?uestlove, the Roots’ bandleader, explained to Billboard. The band met Costello the same way they have met most of their recent musical partners: through Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, the TV show where they are the house band. "The second time [Elvis] came on, we surpassed the first one. So by the third time, he was like: ‘Let’s stop messing around and do something together.’"
Originally Costello and the Roots planned to record just a few songs. But the music sounded good, the sessions continued, and eventually the project was up to "13 or 14" tracks. "Then we said, ‘Ooh! Wait a minute! Let’s replace four of these songs with four better songs!’" ?uestlove said. "And now we have the tightest 12- to 14-song collection out of about 20 songs that we made."
?uestlove is remaining coy about what the music sounds like. "I can just say that it is brilliant," he said. The Roots will mix and master the recordings with their longtime engineer, Steven Mandel. The next issue is the matter of record labels: whereas the Roots are signed to Def Jam, Costello’s last LPs have been released through Starbucks’ Hear Music imprint. "We have the freedom to take it around, whether it’s to Elvis’s people or Def Jam’s people," ?uestlove explained.
Meanwhile, the Roots are "in the genesis" of their 13th studio album, & Then You Shoot Your Cousin, which is due in 2014. And ?uestlove is also presiding over the long-awaited comeback album by R&B singer D’Angelo. "99% of it is done," he revealed. "We worked to the bone in the entire month of January just to tighten up all the loose ends … He’s one of those artists that have, of course, taken 13 years to follow up a record. It’s going to take you about 10 years to digest this record."