"Danceable Hardjazz." That’s how this interesting group with strong European roots and influences describes its music. After listening to Soul Integration, their sophomore release, the fact is that this hard-to-categorize hybrid definitely possesses a sharp bite of innovativeness. Although I classified this as "acid" jazz, I can see why the group wouldn’t refer to its style as such, as there does seem to be a distinct difference. Still, it's close enough. The "Afrogrooves" and elements of funk to which it alludes in its bio are pretty clear, and dancing a mean Caribbean mambo to this material is not at all hard to envision.
The seven-minute opening track "Murw" gets one off to a great start with its flash and island rhythm. You’ll find a lot of nicely placed percussion, horn, and keys work with a generous dose of flattering bass lines here. This one’s a mover. Track three "Spirit" has a unique air about it. The lyrics state that "we found this magic rhythm that makes us happy." That pretty much sums it up. It’s obvious that the group enjoyed making this cut and there is something magical about the exotic rhythm that tends to intermix with a touch of "souljazz."
Afrogrooves and Caribbean flavors explode in the title track. Danceable? Oh yes, and you have to be able to keep up, as this one has fast "legs!" Nice patterns for each instrument make this one a real groove from the start. "You Got Me Thinking" has a nice "soul" feel, but I have to say that I wasn’t taken by this one’s rather confusing melody. Aside from the chorus, I suppose I wasn’t quite receptive to the unique phrasing. Still, there’s still a lot to enjoy on this album. "Gasoline From Babylon" is yet another unique piece with traces of the "souljazz" to which the group refers. It’s a very reflective and socially conscious piece, voicing concerns like "waging war in the Middle East, losing jobs in the West" and "the care for our children."
Soul Integration is an exercise in the absoluteness of expression in jazz circles. Some will like its approach, others may balk. One thing’s certain, it embodies the courage to take one on the road less traveled.