Big and chunky, phat and phunky would describe the music on the newest CD Next by the groove based jazz organ quartet Soulive. Two of the more outstanding musical facets that are ubiquitous on this recording are the tightness of the ensemble and the omnipresence of a driving bass line groove. Coupled with the thick sounding harmonies played on organ, clean, precise drumming, and saxophone playing that fits “hand into glove” with the rest of the ensemble, Next is a clinic in soulful grooving jazz, and a worthy addition to the discography of great organ based jazz groups.
The level of musicianship of Soulive is extremely high as evidenced by impressive ensemble playing. Each instrument fits precisely with every other like the pieces of an aural jigsaw puzzle creating one unified sound mass. A predominating bass line underscores the tightness of the group. Improvised solos even take somewhat of a backseat in a mix that tends to continually balance the bass in forefront of the musical texture. The excitement of Soulive is exemplified in what sounds like cut from one of their live performances, “E.D. Hambone.” If there is a weakness on Next it is the cut “Joyful Girl” that features a vocal by Dave Matthews. Although it is understood that a touring relationship has existed between Soulive and Dave Matthews, on this CD, Matthews sounds out of his element, and his performance is not enhanced by a song that has a rather overly urbane sound and rather innocuous and trite sounding lyric.
For fans of other Blue Note artists such as Medeski, Martin and Wood, or other jazz groups that emphasize strong backbeats and soulful, funky grooves, Next will definitely be satisfying to the ear. The collaborative work of the members of Soulive coupled with their high level of musicianship have taken the jazz organ quartet to another plane of creative existence.
Track Listing: Tuesday Night's Squad, Flurries, Liquid, Kalen, Clap! Featuring Black Thought, Deitch's Interlude, Nay-Nay, I Don't Know, Whatever It Is, Alkime, E.D. Hambone, Bridge To Bama, Joyful Girl
Personnel: Neal Evans, Eric Krasno, Alan Evans, Sam Kininger, Amel Larrieux, Black Thought, Talib Kweli, Dave Matthews
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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