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The Shuffle Demons: All In

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The Shuffle Demons: All In
Bands such as Tower of Power and the Average White Band are known for their hard-driving blend of funky soul mixed with rock and jazz elements. The Canadian-based group, Shuffle Demons, takes these influences and keeps the funk alive while emphasizing their own jazz roots as well. Their tenth album, All In, features a non-stop combination of in-the-pocket grooves combined with big band elements.

The Shuffle Demons formed in 1984, and they started off playing as buskers in the Toronto area. By 1986, they scored a hit in Canada with the song "Spadina Bus," which introduced a larger audience to their upbeat blend of jazz, funk, and rap. All In presents an all-instrumental collection of original songs featuring Richard Underhill on alto and baritone saxophone, Kelly Jefferson and Matt Lagan on tenor saxophone, Mike Downes on bass, and Stich Wynston on drums.

One of the key elements of The Shuffle Demons is their playfulness. They are usually dressed in outlandish costumes, and their stage performances are quite often somewhat theatrical. This aspect is clearly present in All In, which is filled with infectious upbeat grooves that definitely emphasize the fun factor. With song titles like "Wait, What?" and "Let's Play," it's probably easy to pick up on the fact that there is a quirky element to the music.

However, it would be a mistake to chalk The Shuffle Demons off as some sort of novelty act based solely on appearances. Listening to them, it's obvious that all of the members of the band are skilled musicians, and they clearly enjoy playing together. These guys have some definite jazz chops, and there are plenty of times where they exercise their improvisational muscle. There are also some tight harmonies and driving grooves that should please even the most die-hard funk fanatics.

Although the album is very uplifting and entertaining overall, there are some songs that touch on some serious matters. This is most evident in the song "COVID Blues," which is a blend of straight-up funk rhythms blended with just enough Roland Kirk cacophony added in. The song "Strange Days" also features a similar strategy, with the horns venturing off into a side trip before coming back to harmony. Through it all, however, the tight rhythm section maintains a solid foundation. Like any good art, it's open for interpretation, but these songs seem to imply that no matter how uncertain times get, things are bound to get better.

That type of optimism is evident throughout The Shuffle Demons' music, and the band obviously wants the audience to join in and have a good time. There's a funky jazz party going on here, and these guys want to make sure that everybody is All In.

Track Listing

All In; One Step Ahead; Wait, What?; Watch Your Step; Five's Company; COVID Blues; Walk The Walk; Strange Days; Inside Out; Let's Play.

Personnel

Richard Underhill
saxophone, alto
Kelly Jefferson
saxophone, tenor
Matt Lagan
saxophone

Album information

Title: All In | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Stubby Records


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