The Souljazz Orchestra Freedom No Go Die

Fela Kuti is dead but his spirit is alive and well on the Souljazz Orchestra’s Freedom No Go Die. On their sophomore disc the Ottawa quintet (joined by Rwandan/Burundian artist Mighty Popo on three tracks) craft a sound as tight as the power fists that adorn the cover. Songs of resistance, revolution and positivity in the best of the Afrobeat tradition are the matters of the day here with titles like: "Mr. President” and "Blind Leading the Blind” bringing politics to the forefront. But it is searing instrumentals like the mid-tempo "Insurrection,” with Pierre Chretien’s percolating clavinet and bottom heavy bass as well as Phillipe Lafreniere’s congas and urgent percussion that drive the groove home. Other outstanding tracks include the slow burning "Mojuba” and a cover of Pharoah Sanders’ "The Creator Has A Master Plan” (featuring fellow Ottawan Marielle Rivard on vocals) that steadily maintains a funky yet meditative pulse thanks to some tasteful flute and an intense sax solo. Freedom No Go Die? Not as long as outfits like the Souljazz Orchestra continue to make music like this. (Funk Manchu)