Under Review

Souljazz Orchestra



Matt Hanson

The Souljazz Orchestra say the music they create is greater than the band they’ve formed, that Souljazz is a way of life. In the heart-thumping veins of soul, jazz, funk, Caribbean, Latin and Afro styles, a six-part vocal harmony and chorus backing is sure to rouse a sing-a-long party, even on Parliament Hill during the dead of winter in Ottawa, where the Orchestra calls home. Led by francophone composer, vocalist, percussionist and master of vintage keyboards, Pierre Chrétien, Souljazz remains an exhilarating contribution to the contemporary Canadian, and global sound.

Souljazz Orchestra are a band that glows like a spine-tingling aurora on the Canadian horizon. Every member doubles on vocals, blasting and shaking throughout the newest release, Resistance. With previous releases, Freedom No Go Die (2006), Manifesto (2008), Rising Sun (2010), Solidarity (2012) and Inner Fire (2014), Resistance is part of the protest music revolution inspired by longstanding roots in the people power of Canadians from various diaspora cultures. The struggle to stand up, back straight, is the meaning of humanity. A straight back is no place for an oppressor to sit. That’s the essential message of Souljazz Orchestra songs, as they empower the living with self-affirming lyrics, uniting ecological and social causes on the common path towards truth in music.

Juno-nominated and likened to the sound of Fela Kuti, Souljazz are a soul party that never stops where the “Sun keeps on burning / And the world keeps on turning,” as percussionist and vocalist Marielle Rivard sings on track four, “As The World Turns.” The ten tracks on Resistance uphold a powerfully moving energy that exudes positivity and passion. The Afro-Latin rhythms of Souljazz Orchestra reach the heights of retro funk and free jazz, psychedelic and entrancing, yet not in the least dizzying. Listening to Resistance is like staring into an optical illusion that continues to reveal greater depth and more sophisticated patterns.