The Souljazz Orchestra return with another essential mystical odyssey in February 2014 as they release their brand new studio album, Inner Fire, on Strut.
Recorded using the Orchestra s signature analogue techniques at their studio HQ in their home city of Ottawa, the new set continues their expansive musical journey as they effortlessly fuse intricate Eastern influences, Afro beats, Egyptian jazz, Latin styles and spiritual elements into their unique musical melting pot. The secret to the band s sound remains a true openness to global music of all kinds and the individual experiences of the Orchestra s band members. 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, explains keyboardist Pierre Chrétien.
On Inner Fire, the different vibes come thick and fast. Side One features Kingdom Come, a fierce afro-jazz stomper influenced by North-East African big band sounds, One Life To Live, a haunting highlife arrangement on the importance of seizing the day, As The Crow Flies, a soaring bossa-tinged piece and Black Orchid, a bumping fusion of cinematic soul-jazz with Cuban bolero sounds. The flip brings us the firing salsa dura party jam Agoya before the ritual chant of East Flows The River, a spiritual jazz hymn using Eastern modes. The tempo ramps up once more on Sommet En Sommet, a heavy 12/8 afro-jazz piece influenced by Guinean popular music. Percussionist Marielle Rivard then takes the lead on vocals for a scorching personal rendition of Gary Bartz NTU Troop s 1971 classic, Celestial Blues. The Souljazz Orchestra have become the undisputed leaders in their field since their first album back in 2005, breaking through with the huge international hit Mista President on Do Right! in 2007. Since then, the band have remained tight with their original line-up of Pierre Chrétien (keyboards), Zakari Frantz (alto sax & flute), Steve Patterson (tenor sax), Ray Murray (baritone sax), Marielle Rivard (percussion) and Philippe Lafrenière (drums). With their on-stage chemistry and stellar musicianship, the Orchestra s live shows have now become the stuff of legend, sparking instant parties wherever they play.
2013 was already a massive year for the band with their heaviest touring schedule to date. Highlights included a chaotic night playing to a sold-out crowd at New Morning in Paris, the band s first full US tours, high profile festival slots alongside Pharoah Sanders, Stevie Wonder and Raphael Saadiq and a 12-minute live Battle Suite packed full of classic and original breaks and beats for the B-Boy Battle Finals at Ottawa s annual House Of Paint hip hop festival. The band will be undertaking a Canadian tour to support the new album starting in February 2014, followed by a full European tour in March and April.