It seems only fitting in this year that marks the 80th anniversary of Blue Note, the premier label of the 1960’s Soul Jazz Era, that we have a current ensemble re-working some of that classic material. Some of this music has already been released digitally but now the physical album is available to all who crave that infectious Soul Jazz sound. On Soulophone the Collective plays a repertoire that includes Ramsey Lewis, Lee Morgan, Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Smith, Andrew Hill, Stanley Turrentine, Wayne Shorter, Eddie Harris and more. (see list below)
The origins of the group began with a horn section recording session for a Robbie Fulks track when saxophonist John Fournier bonded with trumpeter Marques Carroll over their love of early ‘60s soul jazz. The idea of starting an ensemble showcasing the grooves and tunes of that era began that day, with Marques in charge of assembling some of the finest players in Chicago while Fournier gathered material. Marques enlisted Marcin Fahmy, Keith Brooks, Andrew Vogt and Kyle Asche.
Marques says, “From the very beginning this group has had a spark. The concerts are well attended hard-grooving affairs and the recordings for this album were cut live and the vibe flows so easily from this ensemble that it has grown from being a fun side project to a musical force to be reckoned with. Soul Jazz is a style of jazz that is approachable by all kinds of listeners and it can soothe and excite the senses in a most satisfactory fashion. Everything on our debut record are well known and lesser known chestnuts from the soul jazz era and we are heading back into the studios to record a second batch of classics along with a few originals we have crafted in the style.”
John Fournier is a saxophonist, pianist, composer, lyricist, arranger and educator. His work in the theater has earned him a Joseph Jefferson Award. As a performing sideman, some of the artists he has had the honor of working with include Bernadette Peters, Jerry Butler, Raul Midon, Robbie Fulks, Jon Langford, Prince, The Bee Gees and more.
Marques Carroll is a diverse trumpet player who appears often with the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Dana Hall, and in performances with artists such as Christian McBride, Etienne Charles, Meshell Ndegocello and Nicholas Payton.
Andrew Vogt, a bassist from Chicago, has performed with Donny McCaslin, Ernie Watts and Nate Watts. Drummer Keith Brooks has shared the stage many great Jazz musicians and composers such as Phil Woods, Benny Goldson, Steve Weist, Bill Holman, Doug Lawrence, Gary Smulyan, Jeff Hamilton and Mark Colby. Amr Marcin Fahmy is a pianist originally from Krakow, Poland. He studied at DePaul University and has been performing in Chicago and abroad for over 20 years. Beginning his professional career in Chicago in 2001, guitarist Kyle Asche has performed with Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center, and many others. While Asche is versed and comfortable in many genres, his style often finds him with many of Chicago’s premier jazz vocalists and Hammond organ bands. Asche has held the jazz guitar faculty position at Loyola University Chicago since 2010.
You’ll recognize many of these classics which the Collective renders faithfully. All clock in between five and eight minutes, ample time for crisp soloing. Also, given that Soul Jazz is among the most melodic of the genre, there’s a strong emphasis on ensemble playing throughout.
1. Prayer Meeting (Jimmy Smith)
2. The ‘In’ Crowd (Billy Page)
3. Soul Shoutin’ (Stanley Turrentine)
4. Lotus Flower (Pierre Christian)
5. The Rumproller (Andrew Hill)
6. Wade in the Water (Ramsey Lewis)
7. The Cat (Lalo Schifrin)
8. Adam’s Apple (Wane Shorter)
Like it says in the previous quote Soul Jazz is a style of jazz that is approachable by all kinds of listeners. Many of us can’t get enough of it. This is well done. Let’s hope the Collective touches many to give them the impetus to only render more classics but develop original material in this style, which will never be out of style.