One of our all time favorites here at Flea Market Funk, Gary Bartz & NTU Troop’s “Celestial Blues” is a staple on the turntable as well as in our headphones. A song that is damn near perfect. Who would dare to cover it? The Souljazz Orchestra, that’s who. Their cover is tuff and funky, and comes off of their freshly released Inner Fire Lp on Strut Records. On this effort as a whole, TSJO expand their horizons, blending global rhythms as well as freaking the Funk in their own way. Staying true to the analog recording technique, Inner Fire takes you on a musical journey all over the world, blending Afro beats, Latin, spiritual elements, Egyptian Jazz, and Eastern sounds and influences to the table.
“We all have very wide tastes, we’re always digging for new sounds, and we’ve had the chance to work with master musicians from all over, from Nigeria to Rwanda, from Cuba to Haiti, so each band member ends up bringing different vibes and ideas to each of our albums,” -keyboardist Pierre Chrétien
The original line up since their inception in 2005 of Pierre Chrétien (keyboards), Zakari Frantz (alto sax & flute), Steve Patterson (tenor sax), Ray Murray (baritone sax), Marielle Rivard (percussion) and Philippe Lafrenière (drums) is a combination that has given them much success. The band will take their polished sound on the road this Spring to venues around Europe, hitting the UK, France, and Turkey among other countries. In the past, they’ve already played with such notables such as Pharaoh Sanders, Stevie Wonder, Raphael Saadiq, while also providing live break beats for Ottawa’s B-Boy Finals, showcasing their broad spectrum of sounds. It’s on this record, Inner Fire, where that sound gets fatter. From the Afro-Jazz storm of “Kingdom Come”, influenced by the big bands of North Africa to “Black Orchid”, a soundtrack fusion of Cuban and Soul Jazz to “Agoya”, a straight Latin side guaranteed to make you move, to “East Flows The River”, a spiritual journey with Eastern rhythms throughout, Inner Fire is exactly what you want from a band like this: proper diverse sounds. What’s great is they’re very comfortable in all of these different shoes, and that’s apparent. Like Yusef Lateef leaning far on Eastern Sounds (and incorporating different, odd instruments to boot), or Grant Green on The Latin Bit, they take these influences and master them. This record solidifies the Souljazz Orchestra’s sound as one for the future. With their own inner fire burning, their openness to new exploration is quite clear. If you don’t know your past, you can’t know your future, and this band has that formula down to a tee. This fire will be burning for a long time, guaranteed.
A cracking cover of “Celestial Blues”
Get the record from Strut here.
Check out The Souljazz Orchestra’s website.
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