253

Soulbop Band Live: Bill Evans / Randy Brecker Soulbop Band

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Soulbop Band Live: Bill Evans / Randy Brecker Soulbop Band Straddling the line between funk and jazz, Soulbop was conceived by veteran trumpeter Randy Brecker and ex-Miles Davis saxophonist Bill Evans in response to Bob Berg's untimely death, which scuttled Brecker's touring plans for 34th N Lex (ESC, 2003). Brecker and Evans' 2003 tour with their newly formed Soulbop Band turned out to be one of those unexpected positives that sometimes emerge out of tragedy—so successful, in fact, that a 2004 European tour was booked, finishing up with a triumphant week-long run at New York's Iridium club.

Soulbop Band Live captures the energy of that 2004 tour. There are bound to be comparisons to vintage Brecker Brothers, if only because of the similarity of the lineup, but Evans' mix of groove and bebop sensibilities lends the band its own identity. Even when the group is covering Brecker Brothers tunes like the classic burner "Some Skunk Funk (from their 1975 self-titled Arista debut) and the even more intense "Above & Below (from Return of the Brecker Brothers, GRP, 1992), Evans' strong R&B base contrasts significantly with Michael Brecker's more overt jazz-centricity.

The band's name really does say it all. Some songs are pure soul, like Evans' homage to Eddie Harris, "Cool Eddie, and the staggered funk of "Dixie Hop. But while bassist Victor Bailey and drummer Steve Smith are completely comfortable laying down visceral grooves, they're equally capable of swinging hard, as they do during Evans' powerful soprano solo on "Soul Bop.

Bailey and Smith's inherent flexibility aside, guitarist Hiram Bullock and keyboardist Dave Kikoski would appear, on the surface, to be polar opposites. Kikoski, typically found in more straight-ahead settings, delivers a strong post bop solo on "Soul Bop, and his modal accompaniment keeps Evans' barnstorming "Rattletrap firmly in the jazz camp, despite the rhythm section's irrepressible energy. But he's also a credible organ player on "Skunk Funk and Bullock's funky "Greed.

Bullock, on the other hand, comes more from the rock and soul side of the equation. He shares much in common with his musical peer Mike Stern, although Stern's complex lines lean towards the bebop side of the "heavy metal bebop epithet Miles Davis gave him, while Bullock's phrasing is more straightforward. Bullock is also a fine singer on "Greed and the down-and-dirty "Tease Me, but lines like "If you mess around with my Johnson, I got to get into the bush suggest that he should find a lyrical collaborator.

Ultimately what makes Soulbop so successful is its ability to effortlessly shift gears, often in the same song. Brecker has always been able to take funk to an outer zone, and Evans is just as able to rein things in, though he has an equally broad vernacular. Purists on both sides may have a problem with Soulbop's integrated aesthetic, but for those who like their jazz with a heavy dose of funk and fusion energy, Soulbop Band Live is just what the doctor ordered.

Visit Randy Brecker and Bill Evans on the web.


Track Listing: CD1: Rattletrap; Big Fun; Above & Below; Let's Pretend; Some Skunk Funk; Greed. CD2: Soul Bop; Tease Me; Cool Eddie; Mixed Grill; Hangin' in the City; Dixie Hop.

Personnel: Randy Brecker: trumpet, vocals; Bill Evans: tenor and soprano saxophones; Hiram Bullock: guitar, vocals; David Kikoski: keyboards; Victor Bailey: bass; Steve Smith: drums.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: BHM Productions | Style: Funk/Groove


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Rub Out The Word" CD/LP/Track Review Rub Out The Word
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 21, 2016
Read "Mancera #5" CD/LP/Track Review Mancera #5
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 9, 2016
Read "Earprint" CD/LP/Track Review Earprint
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 14, 2016
Read "The Beauty of Disaster" CD/LP/Track Review The Beauty of Disaster
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 22, 2016
Read "City Colors" CD/LP/Track Review City Colors
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 28, 2016
Read "Wee +3" CD/LP/Track Review Wee +3
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 7, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!