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Issue 1101

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Review

Soothsayers Meets Victor Rice & Friends Volume 1

SS1

9

7.5

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UK release date 28.10.2022

Seems like the distillation process for this long-running band has reached sweet maturation with their distinct sound ready to flow from their oak-aged reggae casks and to be fully savoured!

"Soothsayers Meets Victor Rice & Friendsmn Volume 1" is a highly joyous affair full of perky, horn-filled reggae cuts. The opener, "Effra Nights" Is a fitting tribute to the Effra Pub Brixton, a breeding ground for jazzers and local musicians and sets the tone and mission statement for this sterling platter of reggae blessedness.

Their music is a powerful synthesis of Jamaican Roots Reggae combined with swinging, jazzy “take-off” solos, all together forming in the process something rather special, as they lay down some truly danceable and delectable grooves. They flow so well together, like entering a party of sound like no other. There's not a song that does not fill me with the urge to dance, and the quality of these recordings, united with the virtuosity of its interpreters, really adds to the full-on experience.

There is so much variety from the sweet summery and soul-drenched "Humming Bird Highway" with its beautiful guitar trills and sax melody, through to the spy-like drama of "Last Days". It's an extremely well-paced body of work that hangs well together with not a potboiler in sight. The ensemble playing, filled with surging grooves is first class, a bubbling percussive rhythm section takes care of the carpet with a middle lane of great organ and rhodes before a fat horn section takes things home to glory.

There are many highlights on this release and the evocative "Harry's Way" is a case in point, with its cross-stick magic happening on the drums and its funk-inflected guitar skank really cutting the mustard, along with the dreamy sax and trumpet solo.

Fellow stunner, "Mr Chemis", sees the Soothsayers at full-on Ska tilt while encompassing a lot of 60's sounds, especially the vintage-sounding sax solo before the horn fanfare takes this storming tune home.

It's been a long-awaited album from this South London music collective and teaming up with Grammy-winning São Paulo-based producer Victor Rice will, no doubt, pay off dividends. This dense visceral sound is balm for the soul and a reggae lovers' paradise. Check out their dub versions too, you will not be disappointed.
Words Emrys Baird

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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