The venerable jazz label Blue Note is in a bit of a new
position since the release of Norah Jones' smash debut album. Long known as
a boutique label which is home to some of the most respected names in jazz,
people are suddenly looking at the hit-making potential of Blue Note's stable,
probably for the first time since the 60s.
Soulive is one of the first bands out of
the gate for the imprint since Jones' Grammy sweep, and while Soulive
isn't likely to shift as many units as Come Away With Me, it still is a
damned good album.
Soulive is a trio of jazz-funk
impresarios who also
respect a good rock hook. The opening track "Aladdin" plants some tasty
jazz backbeats underneath a squawking guitar line that is slightly reminiscent
of the old Edgar Winter Group's axe classic "Frankenstein." "El Ron" sets
a smoother jazz groove with just a hint of blaxploitation wocka-wocka guitar
"Solid" rides on a glassy smooth George Benson-esque riff.
"First Street" is a lovely fusion breakdown, while "One In Seven" is thrilling
fuzztone guitar rock. A delicate (and maybe just a tiny bit too subtle)
cover of Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Lenny" just shows off another color in Soulive's
The scarcity of vocal tracks on Soulive ... and the fact
it is a live album... make it unlikely to become a
huge crossover success, but that's all right. The guys have an air-tight
sound and some real cool influences. Soulive prove that is more than
enough reason to jump onboard. (5/03)