10

Greg Skaff: Soulmation

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Guitarist Greg Skaff is all about the grease, grit, and grooves on Soulmation. It's a logical extension of his previous work—guitar-fronted organ group dates like East Harlem Skyline (Zoho Music, 2009) and 116th & Park (Zoho Music, 2012)—but it's a tad heavier, raunchier, and funkier than anything Skaff threw us on those records. His approach here is equal parts soul jazz, jam band, and unadulterated rock, nodding toward everybody from Grant Green to Lenny Kravitz to Jimi Hendrix.

Skaff wastes no time getting down to business on this one. He kicks things off with a funky gem ("Conjure") that calls to mind the music that Medeski, Martin & Wood produced with John Scofield. It's a performance that's indicative of the attitude surrounding the album, yet the sound of that song doesn't define the record. No single track could. Skaff is far too cagey to be pigeonholed, altering his direction in slight and not-so-subtle ways from song to song. One number might present like a meeting of Stevie Wonder, Grand Funk Railroad, and Delbert McClinton ("Soulmation"), the next may slam and shred with controlled abandon ("Mother Root"), and the one after that may appear as waltzing jazz poetry riding on a psychedelic fusion flow (Jan Hammer's "Smoke In The Sun").

Everything is on the table here, and it's quite a spread to take in. Skaff and company ably construct Jeff Beck-meets-Living Colour hybrids ("Bottom Feeder"), manufacture slinky-and-dreamy tastes of Ellingtonia ("Fleurette Africaine"), shoot out sizzling swingers ("Porcupine Hat"), and engage in jams that marry roadhouse aesthetics to more advanced harmonic language ("Talisman"). Virtually nothing is left unexplored across these eleven tracks.

If there's a single idea at the heart of this album, it's that a musician unbound is like a musician heretofore unheard. Whether discussing the leader, his regular on-record collaborators like organist Pat Bianchi and drummer Charley Drayton, or Skaff album newbies like bassist Fima Ephron and drummer Jonathan Barber, that thought rings true. One can never really know the full weight of an artist's thoughts and skills until they're unleashed, so no truer picture of this guitarist (and his friends) may exist. Soulmation is truly a summation of what Greg Skaff is all about.

Track Listing: Conjure; Genmaicha; Soulmation; Mother Rootl Smoke In The Sun; Bottom Feeder; Fleurette Africaine; Porcupine Hat; Talisman; Juke; Snake Oil; Somewhere In The Middle East.

Personnel: Greg Skaff: guitar; Fima Ephron: electric bass; Pat Bianchi: organ; Jonathan Barber: drums; Charley Drayton: drums (1, 2, 9, 10).

Title: Soulmation | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Zoho Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Dedication CD/LP/Track Review Dedication
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 21, 2017
Read Surface of Inscription CD/LP/Track Review Surface of Inscription
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 21, 2017
Read The Treasury Shows, Vol. 24 CD/LP/Track Review The Treasury Shows, Vol. 24
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 21, 2017
Read Aleka CD/LP/Track Review Aleka
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 21, 2017
Read Alto Gusto CD/LP/Track Review Alto Gusto
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 20, 2017
Read Flow CD/LP/Track Review Flow
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 20, 2017
Read "The Final Concert" CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "An Eye on the Future" CD/LP/Track Review An Eye on the Future
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 24, 2017
Read "The Eighth Hour Of Amduat" CD/LP/Track Review The Eighth Hour Of Amduat
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 17, 2017
Read "Knock A Hole In It" CD/LP/Track Review Knock A Hole In It
by James Nadal
Published: April 12, 2017
Read "Ignacio" CD/LP/Track Review Ignacio
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 16, 2016
Read "Rabble Rouser" CD/LP/Track Review Rabble Rouser
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: October 1, 2017

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!

Please support out sponsor