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It may not be intentional, but if you say jazz-soul-funk trio Soulive's name slow enough, it succinctly describes their new album Doin' Something :
The Boston trio Alan Evans on drums, his brother Neal on Hammond B-3 organ, Wurlitzer and piano, and Eric Krasno on guitars combines the improvisations of jazz and the driving backbeat of soul and funk to throw another wrench into the jazz idiom.
That's not such a bad thing, though.
"Bridge to 'Bama" is based on a hip-hop groove that Alan Evans concocted, but tenor saxophonist Jacques Schwarz-Bart adds a little jazz and soul flavor.
As the song progresses, Neal Evans plays a piano solo that would probably be heard in a jazz combo. Then the song takes another left turn with a fast techno beat before returning to the original groove.
On the title track, the group adds a horn section led by James Brown trombonist Fred Wesley (who also arranged the horn parts on two songs) and plays one mean solo. Just when you think the song's through, the band picks up another melody line and runs with it.
"Roll the Tape" starts with a syncopated soul rhythm from the group, then heads into improvisation territory. As the core trio keeps the groove moving along, members of the horn section take turns having their way with the musical scale.
You're almost expecting the Godfather of Soul himself to jump in and sing a verse or two.
One of the more adventurous tunes is "One in Seven," which kicks off with the odd-but-not-odd 7/4 time signature, but then leads into a straight-ahead 4/4. Neal Evans takes an extended solo on the B-3 before handing it off to Krasno to embellish.
Soulive's grooves will compel your head to bob to the beat. You might even find yourself getting up to dance to the music. Don't worry; just let yourself go.
Track Listing: Hurry Up...and Wait, Doin' Something, Evidence, One in Seven, Bridge to 'Bama, Cannonball, Shaheed, Romantic, Solid, Roll the Tape, Joe Sample.
Personnel: Eric Krasno, guitar, Neal Evans, Hammond B-3 organ, Wurlitzer, piano, Alan Evans, drums. Guest artists: Fred Wesley, trombone, Jeremy Pelt, trumpet, Jacques Schwarz-Bart, tenor sax, Sam Kininger, alto sax, Stephanie McKay, vocals.
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.