Jason Miles Presents Soul Summit

On paper, this was a great idea. Emmy-winning producer Jason Miles — a massive fan of ’60s soul — had long dreamt of building a soul supergroup around a core of legendary session players, including guitarist Reggie Young (Elvis, Johnny Cash), drummer Steve Ferrone (Clapton, AWB, Tom Petty) and Motown bassist Bob Babbitt (Funk Bros., Marvin Gaye). Once signed on, Miles’ plan was to merge new with old in the hopes of revisiting classic soul music, giving it a modern twist, as provided by the all-star cast of superstars from all walks of R&B, jazz and blues. One stage. One night. And, 11 tracks later, you get varying degrees of lift-off. Karl Denson, Susan Tedeshi, Richard Elliot (Tower of Power), Mike Mattison (Derek Trucks) and Maysa (Incognito) join the core band to turn in classics by Dan Penn, Herbie Mann, Junior Walker and James Brown. Ignition comes in the form of Tedeschi’s take on Dusty’s "Son of A Preacher Man,” Denison-Elliott’s seamless upgrade of Mann’s pivotal "Memphis Underground” and their sax/flute workout on Miles’ own "Chicken & Waffles.” Truth be told, chestnuts like "Shotgun” and some of the Maysa-led tracks lack spark, the band sounding SNL-like at best. While it’s interesting that many of these players performed on some of these originals, it’s not enough to guarantee the chemistry that only happens when real soul music combusts, often when least suspected, as proven by the genre’s history. Soul Summit documents a worthy effort, however, and a barrel of funky fun awaits fans of these artists and their high-torque repertoire. Hell, it’s worth your time for Reggie Young’s contribution alone. Summit ultimately proves too studied and sophisticated to reach the peak, however. (Shanachie)