Comprised of blaring majestic horns, dusty vintage keyboards, and fierce earthquaking percussion, the Souljazz Orchestra is redefining Canadian groove with its own potent blend of Funk, Soul, Jazz, Afrobeat, African and Latin music. The band was founded in 2002, when a group of young musicians of mixed cultural origins were united by their common allegiance to the grittier side of rare groove music.
As seasons passed, others gravitated towards the burgeoning ensemble, and soon the band reached its current six-piece strong formation. Along the years, the members of the Souljazz Orchestra developed their signature sound by seamlessly connecting the dots between their various influences, from Fela Kuti to James Brown, from Mulatu Astatke to Pharoah Sanders, while always adding their personal touch to the mix. Their efforts have resulted in the rugged groove that now characterizes the Souljazz Orchestra: an innovative, modern sound, but with roots that run deep.
The Ottawa-based collective has since had the honour of sharing the stage with the likes of Femi Kuti, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and Etta James. The multicultural ensemble has played hundreds of concerts across North America and Europe, from Brooklyn to Budapest, from Montreal to Paris, from Toronto to London. Now, with more international dates in the works, the Souljazz Orchestra is set to bring its cataclysmic sound to the rest of the world.
The group released its last album, Freedom No Go Die, in September of 2006. This high-energy release, featuring the vocal stylings of legendary Rwandan / Burundian musician Mighty Popo, has created quite a stir on the international DJ scene: “firing horns, funky keyboards and polyrhythmic beats to rock dance floors” enthused Straight No Chaser, “a sound as tight as the power fists that adorn the cover” raved Exclaim.
Tracks from the album have also been featured on a number of compilations, alongside such heavyweights as Amy Winehouse, Radiohead, Common, Quanticand K-os. To top it all off, the listeners of Gilles Peterson’s BBC radio show voted the album’s opening track, Mista President, as one of the top ten tracks of the year.
Not surprisingly, the album was quickly picked up by the Toronto-based Do Right! label. Despite its hectic touring schedule, the band is also releasing a new album, “Manifesto”, in the fall of 2008. Needless to say, the Souljazz Orchestra are a group to keep an eye on during the next while.