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The Souljazz Orchestra - Under Burning Skies (CD/LP/K7, Strut, 2017)

The Souljazz Orchestra Under Burning Skies

The Souljazz Orchestra will be back with a new album next month, to be released on CD, vinyl… and a limited edition tape which I had the chance to get my hands on earlier this summer. Alas, once back home with the precious treasure, I discovered my boom blaster's tape player was dead with a tape stuck inside!! A month or so passed, filled with frustration, until today, and the discovery of a perfectly working CD/Tape player at my dear mother's place! I put the tape frantically into the player, hit play… and the grooves started filling the place, with this irresistible need to dance that comes with most SJO tunes, of course.

The opening song, 'Dog Eat Dog', with its funky caribbean disco beat and its sing-along chorus it gonna be one of those crowd-pleasers for sure. Then comes 'Lufunki', the tune previously revealed by the band on Soundcloud, announcing the appearance of drum machines in the new LP. Think pure electro-funk Afrika Bambaata (they even used the same pattern as on 'Planet Rock') distilled with Afro horns. Quite the delicious jam… 'Is Yeelyel', a cover of Somalian Dur-Dur Band, brings some 80s synths to the game, it's rather cool but maybe not that original. I'm really more into the syncopated tropical funk of "Oublier Pour Un Jour", which feels more like classic Souljazz Orchestra in its structure and vibe. Another one the usual crowd will love for sure! The instrumental "Under Burning Skies" closes the first side on a jazzier tip.

B-side opens with the monsterful "Holla Holla", one of those uptempo rides that'll bring madness to the clubs the band will soon play in. It's so irresistible, I can't wait for the band to play it at their next date at New Morning this autumn. You'll have to be ready cos' you've been warned. The following tune, "Adawe Boogie", is also HEAVY SHIT, maybe a bit broodier but neatly ready for non-stop dancefloor action too. The 80s/psychedelic/afro-caribbean overall groove gets then a bit of tan with "Sorrow Fly Away" and its soulful vocals and flute parts, and "Tambour A Deux Peaux", its soca beat and a pinch of melancholy. The album closes with some deep African soul, with the ballad "Aduna Jarul Naawo", a cover of Senegalese band Orchestra Baobab. All in all another scorcher of an LP. Reserve your copy from the Paris DJs private record store if you're in the French capital, and see you at New Morning on Oct 13!!
The Souljazz Orchestra Under Burning Skies
The Souljazz Orchestra - Under Burning Skies
(CD/LP/K7) Strut STRUT155, 2017-09-22

Tracklisting :
01. Dog Eat Dog
02. Lufunki
03. Sorrow Fly Away
04. Tambour À Deux Peaux 05. Under Burning Skies
06. Holla Holla
07. Is Yeelyel
08. Adawe Boogie
09. Oublier Pour Un Jour
10. Aduna Jarul Naawo

Links :
The Souljazz Orchestra : official | bandcamp | discogs | facebook | parisdjs | twitter | youtube

Press Release :
Canada's fastest moving and hardest working collective are back with one of their finest albums to date, a brand new journey into tropical, soul and jazz styles on their scorching new release, 'Under Burning Skies'.

Turbulent times call for strong voices and The Souljazz Orchestra's new set packs a suitably heavy lyrical punch, with wry observations and an urge for progressive change. Musically, the band continue to push the limits, dusting off '80s vintage synthesizers and early drum machines for the first time, bringing lo fi disco, boogie and electro touches to their trademark horn arrangements and earthy analogue sound. The fruits are a-plenty and the group sound at their confident and versatile best from start to finish.

Opener 'Dog Eat Dog' powers in with Mabinuori Idowu and Philippe Lafrenière lambasting the powerful and the corrupt over an infectious Afro- disco groove; 'Lufunki' takes the group right back to their B-Boy roots, bringing the Afro vibes to Beat Street and 'Is Yeelyel' delivers a killer rework of an obscure original by Somalian super-group Dur-Dur Band. The band go on exploring their passion for French Caribbean styles on the beautiful, lilting 'Oublier Pour Un Jour' and 'Tambour À Deux Peaux' and they take time for reflection on the potent instrumental title track and poignant closer 'Aduna Jarul Naawo', featuring the vocals of Élage Mbaye.

The Souljazz Orchestra continue to be an unstoppable force. Nominated for a Canadian Juno award for the third time in 2016, the band regularly tear up venues worldwide through their punishing touring schedule – they have played to audiences in over two dozen countries across the globe and have shared bills along the way with heavyweights as varied as Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, and Femi Kuti. Not many bands out there have been going for 15 years with their original line- up still intact while still sounding as fresh as this. As saxophonist Ray Murray says, "Souljazz is more than just a band for us, it's a way of life".

'Under Burning Skies' is released on LP, CD, cassette and digital formats. The LP is pressed on bright yellow vinyl and all formats feature superb illustrated artwork by The Souljazz Orchestra's Pierre Chrétien.



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