Jazz fusion is seeing a mainstream resurgence as of late. While hip-hop acts like A Tribe Called Quest and Gang Starr first mixed the genre with jazz in the early ’90s, contemporary jazz acts like The Robert Glasper Experiment, BADBADNOTGOOD, Snarky Puppy, and The Stepkids have all not-so-quietly made names for themselves over the past few years. They have achieved a mixture of critical acclaim and creative freedom that most artists dream of having, with several of the acts winning Grammy’s along the way.With the explosion of artists like Flying Lotus, Thundercat, and Kamasi Washington, the genre is growing to new heights. For the first time in decades, jazz is a major genre. When combined with R&B and hip-hop, jazz-fusion has proven to be a force to be reckoned with.Jurassic 5 frontman Chali 2na weighed in on this contemporary topic, explaining the sentiments surrounding his most recent project. “I am loving the resurgence of Jazz combined with this youthful mindstate that musicians have today. People like Naughty Professor, Galactic, and Snarky Puppy are pushing the envelope when it comes to this genre.”With that being said, we are beyond excited with what Naughty Professor has been up to. Hailing from New Orleans, they carry the jazz-fusion torch loud and proud. Mixing NOLA jazz with an amalgamation of funk and world music, the instrumental band have been dropping melodic, horn-heavy beats with interesting time signatures since their formation in 2011.“My first impression of Naughty Professor was one of amazement,” explained the J5 emcee. “New Orleans is full of musicians that are masters of their craft and Naughty P is no exception. They are also perfectionist and students of the game. This is immediately apparent once you hear them play.”The band is preparing to release their third studio album with several guest vocalists augmenting their jazz/funk sound. Expected in early 2017, the forthcoming project will feature David Shaw (The Revivalists), Ivan Neville (Dumpstaphunk), Chali 2na, and many other talented musicians.To show this all off, Naughty Professor is hitting the road hard with Chali 2na for a full slate of tour dates this October. For a taste of what’s to come, check out this tour teaser:We recently sat down with Naughty Professor’s drummer Sam Shahin to discuss the upcoming tour, their building relationship with Chali 2na, and what to expect on the new album.Live For Live Music: As a primarily instrumental band, how do you go about choosing your cast of rotating frontmen?Sam Shahin: Between the six of us, we have a wide variety of influences and interests; and as musicians we enjoy stepping into new and different head-spaces. This mentality translates into a conversation with the featured artist that allows us to showcase our versatility as an ensemble.L4LM: With jazz, funk, and soul in your pocket already, hip-hop seems like a natural next step of progression — though may have been initially unexpected. With New Orleans being the melting pot of these genres, how did you come to the decision to include a hip-hop artist as your next touring frontman?SS: We have enjoyed pursuing every avenue of music we can get our hands on. Working with an established artist like Chali allows us to reach a new platform with our music, and the collaborative process with him has been so natural, regardless of whether we’re in the rehearsal room, studio, or on stage. That collaboration has a unique sound and energy that we have had a blast bringing to New Orleans and which we’re very excited to bring to the Northeast in October.L4LM: In terms of initial sparks, did you choose Chali or did Chali choose you? SS: We had the opportunity to meet Chali 2na and watch him perform with Galactic at a Brooklyn Bowl show in August of 2015. We were immediately impressed with his performance, stage presence, and overall vibe. Having considered pursuing an album that showcases featured artists, he seemed like a perfect fit personally and musically with the collaborative nature of the project. We have written two songs together and have arrangements of his solo work, Jurassic 5, and Ozomatli material that we perform live.L4LM: With your upcoming album featuring collaborations with Dumpstaphunk’s Ivan Neville, David Shaw, and the J5 emcee himself, you have a clear connection to the worlds of funk, soul, and hip-hop. What can you tell us about the centerpiece of this upcoming record? How have you made the connection in tying all these themes together? SS: That’s a great question. It has been a unique and exciting challenge to allow each song to maintain its true personality while allowing for cohesion with a rotating cast of musicians. There are certain artists who we feature in multiple songs throughout the project, often in varying roles. We hope to represent a wide spectrum of textures, and diversifying the style and orchestration of the band allows us to speak with a collaborative spirit that defines the whole project.For more about Naughty Professor, check out the band’s website. You can also stay up-to-date with all things Chali 2na over here.