"If you kick a dog long enough, the dog bites back."That phrase is the central theme to Ottawa's Souljazz Orchestra's rise of the proletariat-charged seventh album. Resistance carefully mixes the Afro-beat rhythms we've come to expect with big band horn ensembles, tinges of zouk and more. Aesthetically cleaner than 2012's eight-tracked Solidarity recording, Resistance is a modern tribute to music that is by no means retro, no matter how long it's been around.Far too driven for laurel-resting, Souljazz incorporate two key elements to distinguish Resistance from their earlier work.
The Ottawa-based Souljazz Orchestra have been kicking out the international jams since 2002. Each album is a refinement of their musicianship, even as their musical palette expands. On Resistance, Pierre Chrétien's ensemble uses Afro-beat as its foundation, yet doesn't get get bogged down in overly reverential Fela worship. The sounds of Francophone African and French-Caribbean dance clubs are woven through a fabric of styles including cumbia, zouk, Afro-Haitian tropicalismo, Ivorian coupé-décalé dancehall music, and even NOLA funk.
Ottawa is not a city one might expect to spawn an Afro-jazz big band, but a dozen years since their formation this Canadian collective remain in rude good health. Their default setting is brass-heavy Afrobeat – opener Greet the Dawn is typical – though they hybridise constantly with Latin and funk. The arrangements are elaborate and precision played, and the band boast a couple of bravura saxophonists for their looser, more experimental moments.
We are not in a time devoid of slogans. Those of us in the States are in the middle of an election cycle; you can’t go three clicks without be bombarded by political opinions expounded by that one racist you had in English III your junior year. Outside of Jason Isbell’s musings on class with Something More Than Free most of the political musings in music this year have been made by rappers, from Vince Staples’ nit-grit details of street life to, well, everything on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly.