Canada’s powerhouse afro / latin / soul / jazz collective, The Souljazz Orchestra, surface with a hard-hitting new album for Autumn 2015, Resistance, resuming their link-up with Strut Records.
“We approached this album with a fresh ear,” explains bandleader Pierre Chrétien. “We were keen to build on the band’s sound and message, bringing in some of the French Caribbean and Francophone West African influences that we’ve loved since our youth, so the new album brings in French language tracks and elements of coupé-décalé, zouk and cadence to the overall mix.”
In keeping with the band’s previous work, the band keep powerful lyrics at the heart of their music, delivering some biting social commentaries alongside messages of hope. Storming opening track ‘Greet The Dawn’ heralds a better way of life for the downtrodden while the manic ‘Shock And Awe’ celebrates people power with a wry reference to Bush-era military tactics.
The Souljazz Orchestra remain one of the most solid units in their scene, retaining their original line-up since they were first formed back in 2002. On Resistance, they showcase their continuing versatility with saxman Ray Murray, percussionist Marielle Rivard, drummer Philippe Lafrenière and keyboardist Pierre Chrétien all taking on lead vocal duties on different tracks. “We originally started out as an instrumental band,” reflects Chrétien, “so this is actually our first all vocal album, a big step forward for us.” Chrétien himself also contributes the superb front cover artwork to the album, “I was inspired by the bold, stark, streamlined look of works by artists like Saul Bass, Emory Douglas, or Cuban poster designers - I love how they manage to maximize impact with a minimal amount of strokes and colours.”