The Souljazz Orchestra

Rising Sun

By David DacksThis isn't a change in direction so much as a reaffirmation of their many influences. Having perfected an Africa 70-inspired party vibe with their last album, Ottawa, ON's Souljazz Orchestra dial up the spiritual jazz while retaining the sonic fullness they've developed over the years. Opener "Awakening" is a richly textured ― never was a baritone sax more important to their sound ― invocation to Pharoah Sanders-type songwriting. But their funk is still hard and stinging. "Agbara" is the most overt Afrobeat song on the set, and "Negus Negast" gets into Mulatu-like Ethiojazz. Lest you think the album's ideas are all derivative of other influences, the band have introduced a whole new layer of polyrhythmic activity with percussion and balafon that simply wasn't present in previous incarnations. This proves they've not only absorbed all these deeply jazzy and soulful types of music, but have figured out how to rework such influences to show the band in their best light. The changing moods and grooves of this album are well executed and sequenced, making Rising Sun their best record yet.
(Strut)
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