Categories :

Similar artists

Albums

CD£7.19

World - Released September 13, 2019 | Strut

The Souljazz Orchestra throw their version of a punky reggae party on their sixth album for the Strut label. Keeping the post-disco boogie and shedding the electro they explored on 2017's Under Burning Skies, the Ottawa sextet (joined again by Ed Lister on trumpet) also dial back their Afrobeat inclination with a pronounced and efficient shift toward the late-'70s punk-Rasta interface. They emphasize the Jamaican side -- indeed, there are echoes of Bob Marley's "Punky Reggae Party" and other touchstones of the era -- while drawing a bit from the U.K. with shades of 2-Tone, as well as the Police (instead of the more closely aligned Clash). Principal keyboardist and songwriter Pierre Chrétien has no shortage of political lyrical inspiration that either addresses or translates to the present, alluding to the Trump administration, and writing more directly about police brutality, nuclear armament, and profiteering on corporate and private levels. The oppositional spirit is in everything, even the escapist "Sky High," a throwback to early-'80s dancefloor delights by jazz-rooted artists on labels such as GRP and Elektra. Those with a Great White North Afrobeat itch to scratch get "Police the Police," a charging message song that comes across as dutiful and ill-thought-out rather than vehement, from second-hand sloganeering to the naming of only "fallen brothers" -- none of the women -- killed by Canadian and U.S. police. ~ Andy Kellman
CD£7.19

World - Released September 4, 2015 | Strut

The Ottawa-based Souljazz Orchestra have been kicking out the international jams since 2002. Each album is a refinement of their musicianship, even as their musical palette expands. On Resistance, Pierre Chrétien's ensemble uses Afro-beat as its foundation, yet doesn't get get bogged down in overly reverential Fela worship. The sounds of Francophone African and French-Caribbean dance clubs are woven through a fabric of styles including cumbia, zouk, Afro-Haitian tropicalismo, Ivorian coupé-décalé dancehall music, and even NOLA funk. As is typical, liberation politics makes up the lyrical content; consciousness raising is easier when the message is woven into infectious music that enters the brain and backbone through blasting speakers and makes your feet move. Almost everybody in this band is a multi-instrumentalist, making charts not only complex but imaginative. Intricately arranged horns usually ride on top of the mix, while spiky organ, multiple layers of varied percussion instruments, driving bass, and tight guitar lines flesh it out. This foundation gives the vocalists ample room to explore, either in chorus fashion or solo. "Shock and Awe" is an Afro-beat stunner with crisp breaks, roaring horns, and hypnotic guitar propelling the singers in a militant call and response. "Bull's Eye," another Afro-beat jam, is led by organ with the horns clamoring assent; they play the role of a second-line chorus underscoring the singers. "Courage" weds Colombian cumbia to Afro-Cuban son with a sweaty, bruising strut and swagger. "Life Is What You Make It" nods directly at the trancey funk of the Meters, while coloring the edges of the tune with many shades of brown and black. "Soleil Couchant" stitches Afro-Latin dance music to Ivorian club sounds, while "Kossa Kossa" could be the result of Fela fronting the J.B.'s in a tropical disco. Set closer "It's Gonna Rain" is sultry summertime soul, with polyrhythmic Caribbean percussion flavoring the Stax-Volt groove. Resistance is as powerful as it is celebratory. The brevity of its tunes is remarkable -- the longest cut is just a shade over five minutes, thus maximizing the dance potential. With every album, Souljazz Orchestra bring provocative surprise and musical delight. Resistance is no exception; it's chock-full of vitality and adventure. ~ Thom Jurek
CD£7.19

World - Released September 22, 2017 | Strut

CD£5.59

World - Released September 17, 2012 | Strut

Canada's Souljazz Orchestra were well-known to European audiences before their 2010 Strut debut, Rising Sun; it was the sextet's first all-acoustic effort. Meeting with nearly universal acclaim, it spread the sextet's well-deserved reputation for creating a musically adventurous meld of global styles, accurately reflecting roots cultures in dialogue with one another in the 21st century -- without watering them down. Solidarity furthers the band's reach as it employs vocal talents from a wide range of singers from Canada's vast underground music scene. The band employs its usual meld of Afro-beat, Caribbean, tropical, Latin, and Brazilian styles with jazz, funk, and soul, but the interaction with singers brings the mix to a whole different level. Set opener "Bibinay" features El Hadji "Élage" M'Baye, a Senegalese native who now resides in Quebec. Here, Afro-beat and Eithio-jazz meet slippery funk grooves from the modern West. The layers of guitars and distorted keyboards (Pierre Chrétien) are folded in to layers of percussion, horns, and a call-and-response chorus. Immediately following, M'Baye leads the band in the funk number "Kelen Ati Leen." "Ya Basta" showcases the band's horn section as it employs incendiary salsa in an excellentstepper, with a vocal from the Souljazz Orchestra's resident conguero and drummer, Philippe Lafrenière leading the furious dance chant. "Jericho" is on the roots reggae tip with baritone saxophonist Ray Murray on vocals, while the more streetwise "Kingpin" goes at reggae with guest Gary "Slim" Moore leading the swaggering bubbler. The other reggae-inflected jam here, "Conquering Lion," is hard on the jazz-funk tip with killer front-line horns on all burners. "Serve & Protect" is a furious rhythm collision of Afro-beat and Latin rhythms. While horns assert themselves at the start, it's the keys, layers of manic percussion, and M'Baye and a chorus that send this one over as the set's strongest cut. Ultimately, Solidarity is seamless. No matter how high they set the bar here, the Souljazz Orchestra executes. The music is always exciting, soulful, and expertly played, and never falls prey to clichés. ~ Thom Jurek
CD£7.19

World - Released February 15, 2010 | Strut

Ottawa, Canada's Souljazz Orchestra have been around since 2002, releasing three albums of Afro-beat-inspired jazz before Rising Sun, their fourth. But despite a name that's unfortunately similar to jazz-fusion and jam band favorite Soulive, the Canadian sextet manages to make music that stays relatively true and honest to its inspirations without sounding either derivative or exploitative. This is especially true of the songs that stay closer to the jazz realm, which makes sense: Souljazz's members were trained in, and started in, jazz, and they seem most comfortable here. This means even when the African and Latin influences are added in, as in "Mamaya" (the name of a Guinean dance from the '40s) or the lovely "Consecration" -- which starts with a riff off the first section of Miles Davis' version of "Concierto de Aranjuez" (albeit with saxophone instead of trumpet) before moving into something more upbeat, a swinging modal jazz piece with plenty of room for exploratory solos -- there's an understanding in the listener that the music comes from a sincere and well-kept place. It's not that the songs that move away from this direction -- the Afro-beaty "Agbara" and Mulata Astatke-inspired "Negus Negast" are the two prominent examples -- sound insincere, there's just something a little bit off, the drums in "Negus Negast" mixed just a little too loud, the background vocals in "Agbara" a little too pretty (something, that needs to be noted, contemporaries like Antibalas and Budos Band have been able to avoid), something that hints just slightly of the "world music made palatable" phenomenon. Fortunately, these moments are few and distant enough that after all is said and done, Rising Sun still feels like a victory. ~ Marisa Brown
CD£0.79

World - Released July 9, 2019 | Strut

CD£0.79

World - Released July 6, 2017 | Strut

CD£0.79

World - Released July 23, 2019 | Strut

CD£0.79

World - Released August 25, 2015 | Strut

CD£0.79

World - Released August 14, 2019 | Strut

CD£0.79

World - Released September 4, 2019 | Strut

CD£0.79

World - Released July 13, 2015 | Strut

CD£0.79

World - Released August 12, 2015 | Strut