Exclaim!'s Best of 2014: Top 10 Soul & R&B Albums

6. Souljazz Orchestra
Inner Fire

The fact that the Souljazz Orchestra have released six near-classic albums, a feat that few Canadian acts can match, is pretty much unbelievable. The fact that these Ottawans are still relatively unknown in their native country is even more unbelievable. For a workmanlike group that started out as Afrobeat and future funk disciples, the Souljazz Orchestra have declared independence with confidence and dignity on album number six, as the sextet keep things extremely tight, restrained and tempered.

It's a strange decision for an album titled Inner Fire, but the truth is, over the past decade, the Souljazz Orchestra have learned to rely less on jazzy energy, focusing more on the soul of their craft. The fact that no single instrument, musical theme or mode takes centre stage on Inner Fire demonstrates just how capable the Souljazz Orchestra are at making truly eclectic and imaginative art. (Daniel Sylvester)