The surreal illustration that covers this Daptone offering vaguely recalls those of Philadelphia International releases by Billy Paul, Monk Montgomery, and MFSB. Among the Olympians' late-'60s/early-'70s inspirations must be the musicians behind those recordings, as well as the crews who contributed to the sessions guided by supreme chamber-soul architects Charles Stepney and Norman Whitfield. There are some Southern derivations, too -- aspects adeptly drawn from the Stax and Hi catalogs, the Crusaders' synchronic Blue Thumb period, and so forth.
At this point, it's well known that a Daptone record will have a distinct sound and feel. With the launch of his self-titled instrumental LP, the Olympians are counting on that fact. Largely known as the session players behind Daptone artists such as Lee Fields and Charles Bradley, the nine-piece outfit offer up a take on funky vocal-free grooves with the self-titled The Olympians.As the story goes, bandleader Toby Pazner was so inspired by the 2008 Beijing Olympics that he rounded up Daptone stalwarts Thomas Brenneck, Dave Guy, Leon Michels and several other musical pros to record in his Brooklyn bedroom armed with a Tascam 388 tape recorder.
The self-titled debut from the Olympians is a quintessential Daptone Records release, featuring many of the label’s best musicians as commissioned by the pianist and vibraphonist Toby Pazner. Pazner has played on many Daptone records himself, but he’s also occupied a Daptone-adjacent space as the keyboardist for the soul singer Lee Fields and others. That Aloe Blacc “I Need A Dollar” song you couldn’t escape—or stop listening to—in 2010? It was Pazner who played the signature piano take.