Bodies began to bob and weave as soon as soon as Soule Monde began to play at Burlington’s Waterfront Park August 7th, those undulations from the burgeoning crowed of Twiddleheads, soon to be accompanied by beatific smiles of delight as the duo’s open-ended, infectious jazz took hold. It mattered less if these were reactions from a crowd primed to party with the openers at this night’s Lake Champlain Maritime Festival show, knowing response from those aware of the duo’s collaborative flair (or the additional cache of drummer Russ Lawton and keyboardist Ray Paczkowski as mainstays in Trey Anastasio’s solo band) or just pure spontaneity.
In fact, in this bright sunshine and cool breeze on the shore of Lake Champlain, it only mattered that the pair’s short, seemingly effortless set mirrored the summer atmosphere in which they played. In fact, as much of an abashed delight as it was for both musicians and audience, it might be fair to say there probably couldn’t be a better opener for any band than Soule Monde: Lawton and Paczkowski’s purely musical approach to their playing makes it difficult, if not impossible, to resist the syncopation-laden grooves the two of them create.
Prominent rhythm ripples unceasingly through this music, in this set most obviously when Ray upped the bass from his clavinet roundabout “Take My Hand.” Yet melody is usually just as pronounced, even if at times almost subliminal, such when Lawton followed the progression of “Tango” on his kit while Paczkowski comped in support on his Hammond B3 organ. At those moments, it seems all the more remarkable just two musicians create this happy heady maelstrom: while those who’ve seen Soule Monde in the intimate inside venues they usually frequent might’ve doubted their ability to fill the open air, their joyful abandon, as much as the sound system, only heightened the impact of their sound.
Having worked together seven years now as a duo, Ray and Russ have honed a increasingly sophisticated relationship in which the original songs in their repertoire are now more easily recognizable in contrast to the covers they choose. Self-composed material, such as “Bootsy Bonham,” for example, highlights the duo’s eclectic experience even more distinctly than tunes from the influential trad jazz likes of Horace Silver’s “Jody Grind.” Still, the most fundamental virtue Soule Monde share remains an abiding pleasure they radiate from the stage, then out into and through an audience like the one that so thoroughly absorbed it this Friday night in Burlington.
Take My Hand