The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble Present Confidence, Soul & Instrumental Prowess On ‘Step Down’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Photo courtesy of Colemine Records

On the fourth album from San Diego’s Afro-Funk and Soul-Jazz nine-piece The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble, the group digs into these turbulent times with instrumental power. The ten songs presented on Step Down from Colemine Records, all project confidence and a band in the zone. 

The group of Tim Felten (organ/electric piano), Jesse Audelo (sax/flute), Wiki Fleming (trombone/vocals), Jake Najor (drums), Omar Lopez (bass), Lito Magana Jr. (guitar), Travis Klein (sax/flute), Sheryll Pasis (shekere/tambourine) Kiko Cornejo Jr. (congas/percussion) are speaking to each other in lock step fashion throughout the album. Less like their hometown boogaloo counterparts The Grey Boy All-Stars, more reminiscent of their cross-country contemporaries The Dap-Kings, the group uses a seventies based slick soul, funk and jazz in combination. 

The easy rolling title track opener uses dramatic horn punctuation and a flute solo to set the strong tone for what is to follow. The great low-end combo of Najor’s drumming and Lopez’s bass highlight “The Other Side (which also delivers smooth guitar work from Magana Jr.) and “Omnificent” while Felten’s B3 and strong brass work lead the charge during the exhilarating “Boardwalk”.

The group’s sound gains cinematic scope and grandeur of Sergio Leone Westerns on “Time To Rebuild” and the hard driving “Gandys”. The outfit drops down into a hip-hop backbeat with relaxed horns, spacey keys and a cool laid-back vibe on both “High Times” and “Love Age” before ramping up the funky strut around electro keys on “In Common”.  

Step Down wraps up strong with the smooth rolling “Thomas The Cat” which gets jazzy around a stirring sax solo. The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble are in the pocket throughout Step Down as their funky retro soul sounds and hip-hop/jazz excursions fuse into a stout full length offering.           

the group digs into these turbulent times with instrumental power. The ten songs presented on Step Down all project confidence and a band in the zone. 

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