On September 18th, the Canadian group Souljazz Orchestra will release their new CD “Solidarity” on the Strut Records label. Thealbum is a collaboration between the group and several unique artists from Canada’s underground scene. With a fusion of Afro jazz, World, tropical and Caribbean flavors, “Solidarity” is sure to please even the most discriminating musical palates.
“Bibinay” a medium tempo track featuring Senegalese-Canadian singer, percussionist and songwriter Élage Mbaye and a Gato Barbieri style tenor solo along with an Afro chant call and response, is serious, and should be most appreciated on the world stage. Now, one thing to note about the Souljazz Orchestra is that they have a spectacular horn section that is best illustrated by the cut “Ya Basta” which also includes some salsa as a nice touch. Keyboards and flute are especially strong on this track, and the lead vocalist is solid with good background vocals as well. “Solidarity” goes reggae with the tracks “Kingpin” and “Jericho” which have great arrangements and mixing. On the uptempo side are “Serve And Protect” on which the organ player got a chance to shine along with the percussion, “Conquering Lion” which is funky to the core, and the Latin cut “Tambou Lou”, which has one of the best guitar performances on the CD.
So, after showcasing their skills at mid to uptempo numbers, Souljazz Orchestra does what any great band or artist does. They slow it down just a bit with the track “Nijaay” which is a little too fast to be considered slow, but it’s definitely a bit more mellow with a reggae feel to it as well.
I was particularly impressed by “Solidarity” because it’s like taking a trip into so many different worlds at once: The 70s, Latin, reggae, Afro jazz, and many others. There’s a lot of variety and spice here, which always keeps things interesting, particularly when the band really has command of the music, regardless of which style is dominating at the time, and Souljazz Orchestra does that very well. “Solidarity” is one of those albums whose CDs should be eagerly anticipated because it’s, and I guess I’m showing my age here just a bit, “All that and a bag of chips.” These guys are solid.