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New Groove Jazz
by Adrian Dorsman on Oct 09, 2004
With a solid backbone in jazz and funk, incorporating influences from rock and hip hop, Soulive's new groove sound is one of the brightest in modern jazz today. Exploding in popularity over the past five years by consistently delivering concerts that delight nearly everyone in attendance, Soulive has emerged as one of the next great jazz bands leading the genre to new levels of appreciation. Appealing primarily to younger audiences, the newer generations of jazz aficionados, Soulive is one of those bands where just about every song sounds enlightening, wholesome, fun, and downright good.
A young darling of the Blue Note record label, the band has released three albums with the venerable jazz label since the millennium, the last album, untitled except for the band's name, coming out at the end of 2003.
But this band is not about recording. No doubt the last album was a triumph for the band, and quite remarkable in many ways, but Soulive's draw and appeal is entirely in the performance. The crowd is given the greatest focus, and the music is there to keep them moving and the overall energy as high as possible. If you want a good example go not for the studio-mixed CD, but the underground recordings from New York City this past July.
Started by drummer Alan Evans after leaving Karl Denson in the late 90's, he grabbed his brother Neal on keys and guitarist Eric Krasno to round out the band. Individually, they are brilliant musicians, and remarkable in many ways. Eric's colorful use of effects and his guitar skills give him one of the most recognizable sounds around. Neal's keyboard setup is quite impressive as well, piling one machine onto another like some twisted keyboard version of the double-guitar madness popular in rock bands in the 70's (especially since he plays it like he's in a rock band). When it you see it all in action, you'll be sure to know where all the sounds are coming from. And there's no doubting that 90% of the energy in the band is driven by the beats syncopating out of Alan's kit.
But the thing that will really take you aback when you first see these guys play is how young they are! They're are all in their mid 20's. While they posses the musicianship of jazz players with a lifetime more experience, they have the look, vibe, and attitude of a modern 20-something adult. They grew up with a whole slew of musical influences, including 80's music, hard rock, R & B, and DJ's that used to spin the old blue note records of jazz predecessors with newer hip hop beats and rap artists. The medley that results is what Soulive is today.
What it all translates into really is one huge dance party at the Independent this 15th and 16th of October. San Francisco lucks out and gets to see these guys on the weekend -- Los Angeles fans have to deal with trying to see a Soulive show on the Wednesday and Thursday before -- so the shows in SF will be much more lively. A nifty new Clear Channel service, Instant Live, will be working with Soulive so you can pay $20 for a copy of the CD of the show you're at, mixed down by Soulive's recording engineer during the show and ready by the time you're on your way home.
Soulive's made history for lucky show-goers at sold out Fillmore performances in years past, so it will be a great delight to find them playing at a more intimate location like the Independent. In a place like that, it will just translate into more crowd energy; this one's definitely a "don't miss!"
by Adrian Dorsman on Oct 09, 2004
Photo courtesy of W. Churgin