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Columns > Dan Alford - Audio Files

Published: 2002/09/25
by Dan Alford


Soulive is out on the road right now, cruising from coast to coast in trio form, and they are on fire. The consensus is that this is hottest tour since the Project Logic/Soulive tour of early 2001, and armed with a battery of new material, a smattering of rare Soulive originals and a number of covers, both new and old, the band plans to live up to the hype. There is a comfort level, an awareness and focus, on stage that harkens back to the club performances that won the trio its reputation as innovators of the soul groove sound. With that in mind, this month Im suggesting a classic jam from May of 2000.
As always keep in touch with comments or contributions, be they full reviews or some Quick Picks.
Also, keep an eye open for Audio Files B&P offers on the Tape Trade Board. This month Soulives set from 12-10-00, from the first Project/Soulive tour, complete with a Watermelon Man featuring both bands, was offered. The next offer will be up soon after this months issue is published.
Quick Picks From the Disc Changer:
moe., 9-1-00, Disc 1- Opening the first moe.down.
GD, 4-13-83, Disc 2- Scarlet > Fire.
Billie Holiday, Billie Holiday Live
Garaj Mahal, Live Series Vol. 3,- From 3-1-02, a sampler with a nice Mondo Garaj.
SKB, 8-8-02, Disc 1- Power outage during Ice Cream Factory opener, and Rodney carries the song till the problem is solved.
Discman: Phish, Live Phish Vol. 7, Disc 3- Mikes > Great Gig > Groove, at times its awesome, at times it hurts your ears.
Soulive from 5-13-00 set II
Right On > Jesus Children of America > Church > Turn It Out

This powerful moment in soul-groove history comes at the very end of an excellent show from the Wetlands, in an era when Tribeca club seemed a second home for the trio. The comfort level in the room was exceedingly high- more like a party than a show- and the band really let loose, turning out some very fluid transitions and deft improvisation with all the style and class that earned them their reputation in those early days.
Kraz begins to stir up Right On while Al is still talking to the audience, but soon enough the brothers Evans coming in behind the intro figure, and together the trio jumps into the song as one. Neal flies over organ, crossing the composition shifts with ease and heading out on a solo. Kraz strums a fat, loose tone underneath the pattering rain of organ notes. When the rhythm work drops out, the brothers go at it, Al briefly testing different backing structures while Neal continues his attack, and then adding a swollen bass line with his left hand. His lead plateaus with long sustained notes and a rising bass line, Eric now back in the mix.
After the bridge, Eric begins a vox solo with short, low statements, declaring a path to follow. Sharp feedback pierces the sound as the guitarist noodles over Neals relentless bass. Al sets up a steady, dusty groove that, coupled with the bass, enables Kraz to just keep going, although the solo never quite reaches peak. Instead, the trio takes it way down, each member playing in the open spaces left by the others. They begin to rise up, but Alan shifts gears slightly, Neal adds some bass, and as the movement slows, a super funky Jesus Children materializes.
Kraz struts over the composition, Neal already groovin on the Who Knows theme. At the second verse, the Hendrix jam is so clear it is, as my friend said at the show, "like theyre playing two songs at once!" But this is just the beginning. Exiting the song, Neal pounds out a new bass line, and Eric is back at the vox pedal, a more fluid progression slithering out. Neal wraps himself around the guitar, carrying it up on a bed of long, high notes, and drops back into the Who Knows groove before returning to JCA.
Now Alan tosses in the Bama Jama drumming, just smooth and rolling. In an instant the bass is there, and Eric is laying out the sparse echoy notes. Now Neal switches gears and its Alans turn support as the group heads back to Who Knows once more, this time flourishing as if to close the set. But instead, on the back on a single organ swell, they pass into the Oteil Burbridge piece, Church, which, at the time, had recently become the standard lead in to Turn It Out. Eric plays with a special kind of confidence here, leaving plenty of space, but displaying real emotion with each note.
With the intro wiggle dragged over broad, ministerial organ notes, Turn It Out makes its appearance. Alan crashes down, and the strut is in full effect. The goofy early section shakes and wobbles- a happy song decorated with bright B-3 and plucky guitar. Instead of climbing up, Neal digs down into his first solo, drilling away in a very dense, very focused groove, that eventually bursts through the bottom and rains down from above with a high stepping vibe accented by Alans switch in rhythm- it swings! Eric and Neals left hand match impeccably as they compliment the lead, and slide back into the song. A tube screaming frenzy now tears at the songs integrity, backed by an insane note from the B-3. Al is crashing down harder and harder, and Neal is putting out various bass and ascending leads, and Eric continues to rip away at the center of it all, and they come out clean. Eric soars out over the sustained organ notes, dropping into the aggressive rhythm here and there, ! before Al pushes in a few loud fills and they close the jam and the show. The whole suite is well over thirty minutes in length and certainly worth repeated listenings.

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