Wednesday, 31 March 2010

The Souljazz Orchestra - Rising Sun - 2010 - Strut

Now this is a Jazz set that I really feel at home with! A real, proper bonafide mid 1970s Jazz-fusion flavour mixed in with a mid 60s swinging vibrancy! Running at an old fashioned 45 minutes and 9 tracks, novice listeners may consider this to be an old album from both duration and style yet no...the excellent Strut Records and the ever-wonderful Souljazz Orchestra have thrown more sounds of Yester-Now into the mix and show the bland, boring Smooth Jazz muzak scene what real Jazz is about! If you love the sort of soundscape that Moacir Santos, Lonnie Liston Smith, Cedar Walton and the like were laying down in the mid 70s then "Awakening" will be just what you are looking for! This is followed by a very late 60s sounding Afro Cuban effort that we would have expected from Sergio Mendes or even Airto Moreira.

"Negus Negast" is a head on collision between Ramsey Lewis and Poncho Sanchez and the screaming sax is offset by a floating flute, cushioned by a passionate and dynamic Latin rhythm. The vibes also add real flavour making this CD far too much for the smooth jazz aficionado! This is full-on jazz with the spine re-inserted and attitude! Tracks such as "Lotus Flower" and the brassy "Mamaya" could easily have been laid down on wax in 1974. The sax reminiscent of Richie Cole at his wildest, the Latin chants paying homage to the likes of Cal Tjader and other 60s greats. "Serenity" gives us a piano lead worthy of Bob James, flute worthy of Bobbi Humphrey and percussion as good as anything you would hear in any classic jazz cut from the 60s. We have an oriental flavour on "Consecration" which reminds me so much of Hiroshima. A darker mode on this track and one that adds plenty of gravitas to the set, and I for one like it. The SUPERB "Rejoice" comes in 2 parts and ends the album on a real high note. Sax and horn driven this really is a song to make the heart sing. Whoever says Jazz is boring wants locking up!

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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