The Souljazz Orchestra
Deftly combining such diverse influences as Afrobeat, Afro-Cuban jazz, salsa, funk, samba—plus its namesakes jazz and soul—Ottawa's terrific Souljazz Orchestra stirs up a wonderfully infectious brew that sizzles and pops, gets seriously spiritual, and bristles with exuberance. The ferocious spirits of Fela, James Brown, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, and the Fania All Stars haunt Souljazz's music, but don't strictly define it. The sextet finds its own groove, with a three-piece horn section whose supple strength is reminiscent of Tower of Power, Pierre Chrétien's piano, and a maelstrom of cross-cultural polyrhythms from Philippe Lafrenière and Marielle Rivard. Souljazz's latest album, Rising Sun, rolls out with the shimmery "Awakening," but really opens eyes with the blistering Afrobeat of "Agbara," especially Ray Murray's gloriously rowdy baritone sax workout over Chrétien's percolating marimba. "Negus Negast," fueled by raucous funk, explores Mulatu Astatke's Ethiopian jazz. "Mamaya" crisscrosses the South Atlantic juggling Brazilian and African elements. The slyly effervescent "Serenity" is anchored by Murray's sweet bass clarinet. The album concludes with a cover of Pharaoh Sanders's "Rejoice," a final radiant touch from a masterful band only now on its first major U.S. tour. A pair of Minneapolis bands will open. The Brass Messengers' horn attack and Peregrine Perspective's psychedelic jazz both share similarly expansive philosophies and some influences with Souljazz. 18+. (Photo by François Pelletier)
Sat., Feb. 25, 8 p.m., 2012
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