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The Souljazz Orchestra


The Souljazz Orchestra - Rising Sun

Rising Sun
Strut - 2010


Michael Panontin
Since the Daktaris blasted us with their Soul Explosion LP back in 1998, the embers of afrobeat have kindled across North America with the likes of Antibalas and the Budos Band south of the border, and Toronto's Mr. Something Something and Montreal's Afrodizz kicking it up here in Canuckistan. So it should hardly come as a surprise that from such an unlikely place as Ottawa (soul? jazz?) would come a band like the Souljazz Orchestra. After one indie release and a pair of LPs for the Do Right label, this versatile afro-jazz sextet get the extra heft of London-based Strut Records behind them on their fourth long-player.

Rising Sun is their first all-acoustic affair, with the lads playing over thirty different instruments and delivering a blend of languid jazz extensions - check out the stunning cover of Pharaoh Sanders' 1981 'Rejoice' here - as well as more rooted afrobeat gems like the blistering 'Agbara'. The latter nicely checks the flowery psychedelia of early Fela classic 'Egbe Mi O' and its buoyant backing vocals, a feature rarely referenced in modern-day afrobeat. The real diamond here, though, has got to be the dazzlingly exotic 'Negus Negast', where the band tip their hats to the legendary Ethiopian great Mulatu Astatke, mixing mournful horns with some deftly played vibes. Awesome!
         


Links:

     The Souljazz Orchestra
     Strut


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