Since first arriving on the music scene at the turn of the last millennium, Ottawa’s The Souljazz Orchestra has never stopped pushing the limits of its signature sound: an explosive clash of soul, jazz and tropical styles, unleashed by blaring majestic horns, dusty vintage keyboards, and an arsenal of earthquaking percussion.
A Sunfest audience favourite for more than a decade, the multicultural collective returns to London on the heels of releasing one of its finest albums to date: the scorching “Under Burning Skies” (on the UK-based Strut Records label). Turbulent times call for strong voices and The Souljazz Orchestra’s new set packs a heavy lyrical punch, with wry observations and an urge for progressive change. Musically, the band continues to take it higher, dusting off ‘80s vintage synthesizers and early drum machines for the first time, bringing lo-fi disco, boogie and electro touches to its trademark horn arrangements and earthy analogue sound. The result is nothing short of fascinating and the group sounds at its confident and versatile best from start to finish.
The Soul Jazz Orchestra continues to be an unstoppable force. Nominated for its third JUNO award in 2016, and now enjoying airplay on influential stations like BBC Radio 6 Music, the band tears up venues worldwide through its punishing schedule. In fact, years of relentless touring have turned The Souljazz Orchestra’s live concerts into the stuff of legends – often culminating in ecstatic, sweat-soaked, cathartic affairs, mixing pulsating arrangements with eruptive improvisations. In conquering global stages, the sextet has had the honor of sharing bills with heavyweight hipsters like Bob Dylan and Femi Kuti. As saxophonist Ray Murray puts it, “Souljazz is more than just a band for us, it’s a way of life.”