The co-founder and drummer of Soulive, Alan Evans has started a new endeavor Vintage League Music which plans to showcase that smooth funk sound he became known for. The most recent offering is a sampler album of unreleased tunes titled Family Album Vol 1. showcasing familiar and new players on the scene who are part of the extended VLM family.
Kicking off with the boogaloo funk of “Hey!”, The Natural Soul featuring Matt Schofield provides a highlight right off the bat. The tune pairs well with the exhilarating “High 45” by the Alan Evans Trio as both tracks get down and feature great guitar work/effects from Schofield and Danny Mayer respectfully.
The most interesting tune on the whole collection is “What Will You Do” by The BT ALC Big Band featuring John Medeski. Starting in the same 70’s soul fashion as the rest of the album the track attempts to blend big band horn lines, solos, and a grandiose sense of scope not found elsewhere; while not a stunning success it is a unique twist on the label’s style.
Less exciting are the vocally augmented tracks with the best of those being the bluesy “Helping Hand” featuring Jonny Trama & The B3 Kings and the vintage Stax sound of closer “A Little Bit of Sunshine” by Brother Goodlove. The album sticks mostly to what it does best; polished instrumental workouts like the high paced keyboard/drum/horn work out “Slammin” and “Deep State” featuring On The Spot Trio.
Fans of Evans’ work with Soulive will love this collection as the tunes, tone, and playing all recall that band’s extreme fondness of its mid-70s inspired grooves. The retro-soul flows from Vintage League Music Family Album Vol. 1 with a sound that never goes out of style.