Since their creation in 2002 in Ottawa, Canada, The Souljazz Orchestra have become one of the most potent bands in their field. Drawing on the rough, raw grooves of the ’60s and ’70s and effortlessly fusing soul, jazz, Afro and latin rhythms within their music, they have moved forward the blueprint of Fela, Fania and the funk in entirely new ways, whilst keeping the vital analogue grit intact. As a live unit, the Orchestra have become an in-demand fixture at venues and festivals worldwide.
Having turned heads with two fine albums on Toronto label Do Right!, ‘Freedom No Go Die’ (2006, featuring their breakthrough single ‘Mista President’) and ‘Manifesto’ (2008), Strut are proud to announce the band’s hotly anticipated third album, ‘Rising Sun’. Drawing on a wider canvas of styles than ever before, touching on spiritual jazz, deep African rhythms and Ethiopian modes, the Orchestra take their sound to new heights with stunning musicianship and virtuoso arrangements throughout. Long-time fan Gilles Peterson (BBC Radio One) has already acclaimed this album to be their best yet.
The tracks themselves flow as a sinuous whole. The reflective intro overture, Awakening, originally came to composer Pierre ChrÃ©tien in a dream; the hard Afrobeat of Agbara whips up a heavyweight groove, driven by prepared marimbas rather than traditional electric guitar lines; Negus Negast touches on dark Ethio-jazz, inspired by Strut label-mate Mulatu Astatke; Lotus Flower is a spiritual soul-jazz piece featuring the muted trumpet stylings of guest Nicholas Dyson (musician with Gladys Knight & The Pips, The Temptations and The Coasters); Mamaya moves us into heavy 12/8 Afro-jazz territory, based around traditional Guinean rhythms; the more laid back 12/8 Afro-jazz of Serenity features the flute and clarinet work of multi-instrumentalist Zakari Frantz; Consecration explores modal territory, a track composed during the very early days of the group; and the album closes with Rejoice, a storming cover in two parts of the Pharoah Sanders’ 1981 classic.