403

Soulive: Up Here

Doug Collette By

Sign in to view read count
In a very real sense, Up Here is the perfectly appropriate way for Soulive to celebrate a decade together. These jazz funkers have restlessly experimented and modified their three-piece approach in their ten years together, and this debut on their own label is a good summation of what they've done.

Soulive doesn't wait long to get into a groove here and do so via the gritty bounce of Neal Evans' piano dancing in sync with a stately horn section. Brother Alan, who produced the album, smashes his drum kit all along as the organ alternates with keyboards before a somewhat abrupt finish.

If it seems "Upright" ends before guitarist Eric Krasno has a chance to strut his stuff, that's correct, but he appears immediately in "The Swamp," scrupulously picking the melodic foundation upon which the horns and keyboards rest as the track progresses. Meanwhile, his tone thickens as a means of embellishment, while his two comrades dig ever deeper into the rhythm. This is Soulive at its best: retaining the beat as it swings throughout.

Up Here is not, obviously, a stripped-down return to basics. Horn charts are a natural progression and laudable addition to the core trio and while the vocals of Nigel Hall, on the buoyant "Too Much," are soulful enough, his presence reduces the drama of the all-instrumental interaction as documented on the previous tracks. Even given the shades of Earth Wind & Fire influence in the harmony singing there, Ryan Zoidis' sax solo is more memorable and in line with preceding cuts and "Backwards Jack."

The dream-like "PJ's" appears just in time to rescue Up Here from homogeneity. Krasno flicks off sleepy blues-inflected guitar as the metronomic echoes of drums float back and forth in time with electronic keyboards and restrained horns. Smooth and succinct, this cut is simultaneously traditional and perfectly contemporary.

Which also happens to be the best means of describing "Tonight," whose tightly-wound horns and guitar continue the emphasis on R&B rather than jazz elements, which have characterized Soulive's last two studio works. Meanwhile, "Hatrick," "For Granted" and "Prototype" constitute an appropriate finish to this album, a self-referential triad of titles that illustrate the equally firm reach and grasp of the group.


Track Listing: Up Right; The Swamp; Too Much; Backwards Jack; PJ's; Tonight; Hat Trick; For Granted; Prototype.

Personnel: Alan Evans: drums; Eric Krasno: guitar; Neal Evans: keyboards; Nigel Hall: vocals; The Shady Horns: Sam Kininger: alto saxophone; Ryan Zoidis: tenor saxophone, alto saxophone.

Title: Up Here | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Royal Family Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Triple Double CD/LP/Track Review Triple Double
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Agrima CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 21, 2017
Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read "Roots Of Unity" CD/LP/Track Review Roots Of Unity
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 25, 2017
Read "Standard Blue" CD/LP/Track Review Standard Blue
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 3, 2017
Read "Paint" CD/LP/Track Review Paint
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 16, 2017
Read "Madjafalao" CD/LP/Track Review Madjafalao
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 19, 2017
Read "Silhouettes" CD/LP/Track Review Silhouettes
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 14, 2017
Read "Strunkin'" CD/LP/Track Review Strunkin'
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 18, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.