Thursday, 16 December 2010

SounDoctrine - Inspire - 2010 - Nianana Records

SounDoctrine by virtue of name and artwork may fool you into thinking that it's some rubbish rap / Hip Hop album along the likes of D12 or something. Well, thankfully, it isn't. Billed as Funkjazzfusion, this album represents a number of talented artists who collaborate on a set of quality soul tunes, jazzy instrumentals and contemporary - yet not crass - R&B efforts. A few names on here are familiar to us all - Carlton J. Smith, Marlon Saunders and Jere B to name a few, and other lesser known names work together to deliver a fine set of independent soul, funk and jazz tunes. Jere B is the man overseeing this project, and 14 tracks have been created for your listening pleasure. Sets like these have helped make 2010 a very good year for our music.

Marlon Saunders never fails to deliver, be it on his own work or production for other artists and on "Just Think" he has given us yet another strong, strong effort. Again, Marlon relies on real instruments and melodies and the warm keyboards, funky rhythm and scratchy guitar and pieced together with a summery guitar that takes us back to the early 80s. Asking us to think about better times, happier times and those things and people that we once had Marlon encourages us to re-evaluate our place in the world, taking it to the streets. Socially conscious, Marlon is a master of this type of theme and gets full marks for this effort. The synth that ends the song, too, is as haunting as you like and has had numerous rewinds so that I can enjoy it again and again and again! The conscious theme is continued with Larry Johnson and Stefano NuSoul with "Brother's Keeper. Filled with positivity, they implore us to let our lights shine. Nothing wrong with that and songs that not only mean well but contain real wisdom and not superficialdom always win my vote!

Instrumentals "Marriage" and "Sacred Place (For Gary)" are both SUPERB. Real instrumentation and properly in the jazz fusion bag we are not left wandering around a shopping mall or going up and down in an elevator on these tunes. The Wes McCann guitar is perfect as are the vibes and sax on both. Delicious! A song that I implore you to listen to carefully, and give a real chance to, is "Meant To Be" which is a contemporary R&B ballad featuring Stefano NuSoul and Jasmine Thompson. The music is lovely yet it has an appeal to the younger ear...if an old grumpy guts like me can appreciate this song then I'm sure you will like it too. The lyrics are lovely and the vocal arrangements are also quite clever. No use of auto-tuning either, to their credit. This almost sounds like a new track from, say, Najee or Brian Culbertson. Think Avant and Faith Evans for example guesting. Not usually my bag, but the gorgeous melody, the lyrics and Keith McKelly's sax is SUPERB. Think Najee and you're right there. Another funky instrumental features Keith McKelly, sounding very much like Everette Harp, along with Cliff Barnes and Paul Douds on piano and acoustic guitar. Topping everything, though, is the final song, "(That's Why) It's Called Love" featuring Kent Wallace, Nadir Omowale, Janet White and Janis Jones. This is real quality modern soul and renders the CD essential. A must-have release and no better to end 2010.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe