No offense, but the funk scene these days leaves much to be desired. Many of the acts that are out there now rely heavily on uninspired tributes and bland grooves that may showcase plenty of technique but lack any kind of soul. Sure, it may be fun to dance to when you’re high, but it doesn’t get under your skin and leave a last impression. Luckily there are still acts like The New Mastersounds out there cranking out the good stuff with their own brand of strikingly original funk music. Now the band’s guitarist, Eddie Roberts, has embarked on another project that may be just as exciting but is entirely different than his main band.
Matador! Soul Sounds will release their debut album Get Ready on March 12th. The band consists of the dream team of Eddie Roberts (New Mastersounds) and Alan Evans (Soulive) alongside keyboardist Chris Spies and bassist Kevin Scott. Rounding out the already killer line-up are vocalists Kimberly Dawson (Pimps of Joytime) and Adryon de León (Orgone), bringing their soulful and powerful energy to the mix. Combining the dynamism of each band leader, the music they have created is brand new, hard hitting and drenched with their shared musical passions – jazz, funk and soul.
Matador! Soul Sounds was formed organically when Eddie and Alan were on tour. Eddie explains, “The idea came about one night while we were drinking wine in a bar in DC when I turned to Alan and asked ‘can we start a band together?’ Alan obviously shared the same sentiment as here we are today launching the debut album!” The next step was to come up with a name that encompassed both of their identities and musical inspirations. The naming of the band came about during Eddie and Alan’s Grant Green tribute shows. Both of them liked the Grant Green album Matador!, and all that it evoked. Matador! Soul Sounds is a band loosely based on the concept of traditional Spanish bullfighting. However, a common misconception in America is that bullfighting is a feat of one man versus one bull. In reality, bullfighting is largely a team effort by a matador and his cuadrilla – which is the theme that showcases the all-star lineup behind this original band.
Today Glide is excited to premiere “The State of Affairs”, one of the standout tracks on the album. At first listen the song sounds like an instrumental with a hip groove and Roberts’ smooth guitar licks slicing through the rhythm. What makes the song fascinating is the harmonies of Kimberly Dawson and Adryon de León, which are so locked in with the music that they almost blend in as instruments themselves. This type of vocal arrangement is more common in jazz than in funk, and “The State of Affairs” does have a sort of 60s lounge music kind of sound but with funkified organ and guitar work. It stands out from pretty much everything in the funk scene for the way it seamlessly blends different styles funk, soul and jazz into one totally unique and original sound.
Listen to the tune and read our chat with Eddie Roberts below…
This project seems like an interesting collaboration. How did you all come together and decide to form Matador! Soul Sounds? Especially when all of you seem pretty busy with your main bands.
The seed was planted from Alan and I having opportunities to play together here and there. Bowlive, Jam Cruise, Jazz Fest etc.. It was clear from the first time we played that we had a special musical connection, not only in our musical influences, but in the way we just feel the music together. I find his playing so inspiring and driving, and I wanted to make music with him. We then set about bringing our favorite musicians together to form, what is for us, our ‘fantasy band’.
Talk about the song “The State of Affairs”. How did it come about and what was the recording process like? It has a pretty loose, jazzy feeling to it while also sounding extremely tight.
While gathering some ideas for this album, we were right in the middle of the Trump changeover. Being a Green Card holder, I was feeling a lot of anxiety and alienation from where I now call home. The State of Affairs, the socio-political climate, how people were feeling in the US…it was all quite distressed and restless, and I wanted to reflect that anxiety in this tune. It was also one of the tunes that first inspired the idea of having the vocals acting like a horn section, inspiration from albums like Max Roach’s It’s Time, and Duke Person’s A New Perspective. I didn’t want Matador! Soul Sounds to have a ‘singer/backing band’ vibe, instead I wanted the vocals to intertwine with the music. Another inspiration point for this was Rotary Connection, a band that included Minnie Riperton.
The song seems to have some really unique nods to different styles of music. Can you talk about some of the styles that inspired you for this song?
This track is definitely more jazz influenced than some of the others on the album, somewhat because of its instrumental nature. The melody is very ‘Bop’ inspired and the chords between the drum breaks are a jazz voiced chord for sure. The groove, however, is a combination of a funk back beat and a jazz swing. I think it’s interesting to hear how other people ‘hear’ the music I make. Everyone has their own musical background and therefore ‘gets’ a different part or influence when listening. I always say…depending on who the listener is, it’s either funky jazz, or jazzy funk !
In forming this band, what were you hoping to present to listeners that would be different from your main project, The New Mastersounds?
I’ve found from my experience, it’s impossible to remove the personality of the individual from the music. When you make music with different musicians, even the same tune recorded by different people will have a different feel, voice, groove. Therefore, by default, making music with new people is going to create something original. I take the time to find the people I want to make music with, rather than thinking of it as a genre. The instrumentation is similar to NMS, however, the players have a much different sound, and adding in the vocals as instruments augments the sound to a unique voice of it’s own. I wanted the band to be very dynamic and exciting, and I believe that Matador! Soul Sounds delivers!
What can people expect from the live show?
For starters, Adryon and Kim are a lot easier on the eyes than me and my fellow instrumentalists! As seasoned performers, the two ladies really capture the audience and pull them in to the experience. Alan and Kevin create such a heavy groove together, and Chris and I have the pleasure of surfing the waves! I’m very proud that in a current scene saturated with tribute shows and soul covers, that our whole set is original, and written all together…which really solidifies the ‘band’ sound.