The Souljazz Orchestra celebrates soulful music in all its best forms, both past and present, be it Funk, Soul, Jazz, Afro or Latin. And though their hot and heavy sound is informed by various styles from around the world, the term "world music" might fail to fully capture the essence of this group: at the heart of it all, it's all about the groove.
The band was founded in 2002, when a group of young, like-minded musicians started meeting up regularly at downtown jam sessions. Some had played in jazz combos, others in rhythm & blues bands, others still in African or Latin ensembles. They began making plans to form a new collective that would combine their various musical interests with their particular world view, and soon the Souljazz Orchestra was born.
The multicultural Canadian ensemble has since played hundreds of concerts across North America and Europe, sharing the stage with the likes of Femi Kuti, Etta James, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Erik Truffaz, and the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. Now, with more international dates in the works, the Souljazz Orchestra is set to bring its music to the rest of the world.
Manifesto, the group's latest release, was released in late 2008, and is already being hailed as a modern classic: "Top album of 2008" claims Kalcha of Vibrations Magazine, "Definitely a marquee album, " enthuses CHARTattack Magazine, "Easily one of the funkiest groups in the contemporary Afro Funk underground," says Dusty Groove.
Their previous release, Freedom No Go Die, featured the vocal stylings of legendary Rwandan/Burundian musician Mighty Popo, and was released in September of 2006, also to critical acclaim. Tracks from the album have been featured on a number of compilations and soundtracks, alongside such heavyweights as Amy Winehouse, Radiohead, Common, Quantic and K-os. To top it all off, the listeners of Gilles Peterson's BBC radio show voted the album's opening track, Mista President, as one of the top ten tracks of the year.
Needless to say, the Souljazz Orchestra is a group to keep an eye on during the next while...
LINE-UP (from left to right)
Pierre Chrétien - electric piano, clavinet, organ, percussion, vocals
Marielle Rivard - shekere, tambourine, vocals
Steve Patterson - tenor sax, percussion, vocals
Ray Murray - baritone sax, percussion, vocals
Zakari Frantz - alto sax, flute, percussion, vocals
Philippe Lafrenière - drums, percussion, vocals
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