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Sure Fire Soul Ensemble: Out On The Coast

Joe Gatto By

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Sure Fire Soul Ensemble, from San Diego, is one of the most talented new bands on the West Coast. Mixing funk, soul, jazz, and Latin & African influences to create unique, exciting music... their "cinematic soul" is like a cross between the music from Jim Jarmusch movies & Blacksploitation films of the 1970s.

And, you can dance to it!

If you like Snarky Puppy, The Beastie Boys' instrumentals, Quantic, The New Mastersounds, Karl Denson & Greyboy Allstars... then you'll love Sure Fire Soul Ensemble.

From the opening mariachi horn blasts of "Baja Norte," I knew Sure Fire Soul Ensemble's second album, Out On The Coast, was going to be one of the best records of 2016! Yet another fabulous new release from Colemine Records, this album is sheer joy...

"Baja Norte" gives you a taste of the diverse flavor of Sure Fire Soul Ensemble—Latin rhythms, wah-wah guitar, sublime sax, drum & bass that pin you to the groove, and yummy organ goodness. It sets the soundscape for the rest of this varied, and super groovy album.

"Rise Of The East" is an old school instrumental Soul sounding jam that's jazzy, and fits their "cinematic soul" billing. It could have fit right in on the Shaft soundtrack.

"Tche!" boasts an Ethiopian jazz-funk organ style, which gives the tune its exotic foundation. Happy horns, and provocative percussion round it out and make it a modern sounding song with an Ethio-jazz inspiration.

The album's first single, "Jeannie's Getdown," is one of the best instrumental Funk songs of 2016. Propulsive percussion and driving drums power this tune so Jesse Audelo can blow his sax all over the groove, as the rest of the horn section give it some Afrobeat brass swagger. If you see them out live, they might just turn it into "Billie Jean" for you.

"Sunny Santa Ana" and "Balboa Park" are the perfect tunes for chilling by the Pacific Ocean and kicking back with a California IPA on a gorgeous day. The joyful, jazzy guitar work from Nicholas Costa transports you out to the coast. And, the far-out effects and fine funky flute playing on "Balboa Park" carry your mind out to sea.

"Lemon Grove Swagger" & "Volcano Vapes" get a little trippier with their mellow Jazz Funk. You might want to visit a So-Cal dispensary before cueing these ones up.

The title track, "Out On The Coast," is a cover version of a rare-groove classic by Larry Willis from 1973—one of the very finest examples of electrifying jazz-funk from the '70s. Sure Fire Soul Ensemble updates it to become a contemporary jazz funk jam you can't resist.

It's a little meaner than the original—Peter "D" Williams attacks the drums & Tim Felten takes a brief, yet nasty organ solo on this one. The horn section plays the refrain spot-on and tremendous tone on the guitar all make this tune sound more modern and stimulating than the original.

"Pigs Feet" is another perfect "cinematic soul" song. It would fit right into a Blacksploitation soundtrack from the 70s. And, it's got some New Orleans grease and a little Stax style too. I think Isaac Hayes would be proud!

"Face 1" is a rousing number with a breathtaking interplay between organ, guitar, horns, and drums. It will make the Jazz cats and jamband dudes both happy.

Overall, Out On The Coast, Sure Fire Soul Ensemble's follow up to their self-titled debut (one of the best albums of 2015) does what I believe music should do—it makes you feel great when you listen to it.

An early entry for my best of 2016 list.

Track Listing: Baja Norte; Rise Of The East; Tche!; Jeannie's Getdown; Sunny Santa Ana; Lemon Grove Swagger; Out On The Coast; Pig's Feet; Volcano Vapes; Face 1; Balboa Park.

Personnel: Tim Felten: Organ and Electric Piano; Jesse Audelo: Baritone Saxophone and Flute; Peter "D" Williams: Drums; Matthew LaBarber: Bass; Diego Velasquez: Percussion; Nicholas Costa: Guitar; Sheryll Felten: Shekere; Robert Dove: Tenor Saxophone.

Title: Out On The Coast | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Colemine Records

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