280

Soulive: Breakout

Doug Collette By

Sign in to view read count
Soulive
Breakout
Concord Records
2005

Soulive is nothing if not a young jazz band of the people, playing on the road constantly, interacting with audiences graciously and regularly hosting musicians on stage and on tour. Yet this trio adamantly refuses to release albums that merely reflect its live act, which is a generously funky mix of pure improvisation over deep grooves seasoned with old-school soul, R&B, and contemporary beats.

A short instrumental fade, one of three such "Interludes on the disc, introduces one of the primary influences on Soulive: the funk orientation of Hendrix in his Band of Gypsys phase. Later on, Alan Evans, Neal Evans, and Eric Krasno lead a pumping turn on "Crosstown Traffic that makes it sound like Jimi wrote the tune for a horn section. A fusion of such contemporary source material with old-school R&B and soul comes in the form of "Reverb, where the band floats melodic textures over a groove as deep as it gets, the percussion accenting the rhythm no more (or less) than the horns.

"Got Soul illustrates how handily Soulive maneuvers through syncopation. These players' own surety enables them to host more than a few guests on Breakout; some, like Ivan Neville, who sings here, have actually performed with the group onstage, while vocalist Reggie Watts is the lead singer of Maktub, who's co-billed tours with Soulive. On their second album, Next, the Evans brothers and Krasno were still in the process of formulating their identity. In contrast, on this, the group's Concord debut, Soulive's collective personality is so firmly established that the incorporation of flamenco strains on "Cachacha sounds perfectly natural, an enhancement of the group's style, not an experimentation with someone else's (though it'd be hard to believe the members of Soulive don't love Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain).

Chaka Khan's appearance on "Back Again recalls the shortfalls of the aforementioned Blue Note album: it's not earthy enough or airy enough to be truly memorable. Surprisingly, Living Colour vocalist Corey Glover fails to distinguish himself either on "Freedom, while pedal steel wunderkind Robert Randolph gets the short shrift, appearing only on the less-than-thirty seconds of "Interlude II and becomes buried in the arrangement of the otherwise scintillating "Crosstown Traffic.

Guitarist Eric Krasno may be the most gifted instrumentalist in Soulive: his dexterity is always in proportion to his imagination. But his gifts would not stand out in such sharp relief were it not for the bottomless drumming of Alan Evans or the spice of contrast supplied by Neal Evans; hear the short piano break on "Back Again for instance, an offering on an instrument the young keyboardist rarely uses, but plays as adroitly as the organ, clavinet, and Roland axes at his disposal.

You never miss hearing and feeling a bassist with Soulive, thanks to the abandoned manner with which Evans wields the Roland. Similarly, it's dangerous to take for granted the sophisticated production savvy these musicians have taught themselves, in such a relatively short time (their debut album came out in 1999 and was reissued with a bonus track three years later).

Hard core jazz listeners may find the vocals on alternating tracks intrusive, and extending the interludes into full-length tracks would not make the album overly long. Yet when you find yourself immersed in the well road-tested title song, such thoughts disappear, replaced by the realization that a good piece of material will accommodate a variety of arrangements.

"Breakout" sounds as tantalizing with the brassy horns as it so often has in stripped-down form parlayed by the core trio. It's just one of the most obvious reminders that the name of this recording, Breakout, is a verb, not a noun.

Visit Soulive on the web.


Tracks: Interlude; Reverb; Got Soul; Cachaca; Back Again; Break Out; She's Hooked; Crosstown Traffic; Take It Easy; Vapor; What Can You Do; Interlude II; Freedom; Glad To Know Ya; Interlude III.

Personnel: Alan Evans; drums, fuzz and rhythm guitars, bass keys and vocals; Neal Evans: Hammond organ, bass keys, clavinet, piano, Fender Rhodes: Eric Krasno: electric and acoustic guitars, programming; Rashawn Ross: trumpet; Ryan Zoidis: tenor and alto saxophone; Robin Eubanks: trumpet; Lasim Richards: trombone; Cochemea Gastlum: alto sax; Danny Sandownick: percussion; Jordan Battiste: backing vocals; Chaka Khan: vocals; Reggie Watts: vocals; Corey Glover: vocals; Ivan Neville: vocals; Robert Randolph: pedal steel guitar.

Track Listing: Interlude; Reverb; Got Soul; Cachaca; Back Again; Break Out; She's Hooked; Crosstown Traffic; Take It Easy; Vapor; What Can You Do; Interlude II; Freedom;Glad To Know Ya;Interlude III.

Personnel: Alan Evans; drums, fuzz and rhythm guitars, bass keys and vocals; Neal Evans: Hammond organ, bass keys, clavinet, piano, Fender Rhodes; Eric Krasno: electric and acoustic guitars, programming; Rashawn Ross: trumpet; Ryan Zoidis: tenor and alto saxophone; Robin Eubanks: trumpet; Lasim Richards: trombone; Cochemea Gastlum: alto sax; Danny Sandownick: percussion; Jordan Battiste: backing vocals; Chaka Khan: vocals; Reggie Watts: vocals; Corey Glover: vocals; Ivan Neville: vocals; Robert Randolph: pedal steel guitar.

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Concord Music Group | Style: Funk/Groove


Shop

More Articles

Read Procol Harum: Novum Extended Analysis Procol Harum: Novum
by Doug Collette
Published: April 22, 2017
Read Allan Holdsworth: The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever! Extended Analysis Allan Holdsworth: The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever!
by John Kelman
Published: April 17, 2017
Read Thelonious Monk: Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960 Extended Analysis Thelonious Monk: Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: April 9, 2017
Read Charlie Watts Meets the Danish Radio Big Band Extended Analysis Charlie Watts Meets the Danish Radio Big Band
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: April 3, 2017
Read The Doors' 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition Extended Analysis The Doors' 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: April 1, 2017
Read Phish: St. Louis '93 Extended Analysis Phish: St. Louis '93
by Doug Collette
Published: April 1, 2017
Read "Ian Hunter: Fingers Crossed" Extended Analysis Ian Hunter: Fingers Crossed
by Doug Collette
Published: October 30, 2016
Read "Jasper Høiby: Fellow Creatures" Extended Analysis Jasper Høiby: Fellow Creatures
by Phil Barnes
Published: August 21, 2016
Read "King Crimson: Radical Action (To Unseat The Hold of Monkey Mind)" Extended Analysis King Crimson: Radical Action (To Unseat The Hold of Monkey...
by John Kelman
Published: September 10, 2016
Read "The Rolling Stones: Blue and Lonesome" Extended Analysis The Rolling Stones: Blue and Lonesome
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: November 27, 2016
Read "Tim Bowness: Lost in the Ghostlight" Extended Analysis Tim Bowness: Lost in the Ghostlight
by John Kelman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny" Extended Analysis Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny
by Dave Wayne
Published: May 30, 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!