February 11, 2012

East Bay Soul 2.0

Much of the early buzz surrounding the release of East Bay Soul 2.0 has been about how a sensational campaign to raise the $25,000 necessary to record the album hit its target. However, now it’s all about the music. Make no mistake, this is a collection of the highest order and everything (plus a little bit more) that one would expect from the creative genius of its creator Greg Adams. Of course Adams was the founding member of Tower of Power where his signature sound as performer and arranger made the TOP horn section a sought out entity all it's own. Now, factor in Darryl Walker's powerful soul drenched vocals, add eight other world class artists and the result is a singular vision of instrumental funk, jazz and soul music brought to audiences in a fresh new way. This is new a movement in Urban Jazz; this is East Bay Soul 2.0.

If anyone is in any doubt as to the credentials of this highly anticipated release they need look no further than the big, brassy and in your face ‘The Getaway’ which provides a wonderful platform for Adams on muted trumpet. Totally in the finest traditions of what he does best it is mirrored by ‘Back to Oakland’, which serves as a superb showcase for the entire band. This tremendous coming together of the horn and rhythm sections also includes a taster of Darryl Walker’s vocals, yet Walker is found at his soulful best for the albums only cover, Adams silky re-imaging of the Marvin Gaye classic ‘What’s Going On’.

When Walker returns for the emotionally supercharged ‘I’m Coming Home’ he helps to provide one of the CD’s more tender moments yet truth to tell Adams creates adequate time and space for some outstandingly soul tinged ballads. In this respect there is none better than the magnificent ‘Once and For All’ while elsewhere ‘The Love Of My Life’ proves to be another big, soulful ballad with Walker very much center stage. He sticks around for the high octane and totally enthralling ‘The Devil You Know’ but when the emphasis switches back to instrumentals, the joyous ‘Carry On’ finds Adams in fabulous form. It’s the sort of track to put a huge smile on your face and, with a smattering of Hammond-B3 from Joey Navarro, is completely on the money.

The aptly named ‘Brassalicious’ just about explains all you need to know about this lusciously funky tune and the first single to be serviced to radio is ‘To Catch A Thief’ which features Adams on Flugelhorn. The title ‘To Catch A Thief’ was inspired by the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock movie of the same name. In writing the song it conjured up for Adams the role of John Robie, a reformed jewel thief known as “The Cat” who, in the film, was played by the great Cary Grant. With a languid yet easy grooving vibe this ultra cool cut benefits from more killer Hammond B3 Navarro and is certain to do well.

The street date for East Bay Soul 2.0 has been slated for February 28, 2012 and is sure to be a highpoint of the contemporary jazz year.

Posted by Denis Poole at February 11, 2012 9:01 AM