Reviews > Shows
Soulive in Toronto
Soulive in spring, Photo by Allison Murphy
Alan and Neal Evans had a distinct concept in mind when they enlisted Eric Krasno to record a few tracks at their Woodstock, NY studio back in 1999: to start a new project in the vein of Jimmy Smith and the other traditional jazz organ outfits they so revered. A dozen years, ten studio albums, and countless performances later – Soulive is deservedly a household name in the jam and funk communities. With an electrifying live show and enough energy to get any crowd moving, the trio continues to hit the mark.
There were rumblings in the audience of potential guest appearances during the first set, as any number of talented players were in town for the Toronto Jazz Festival, but no such additions materialized. Instead, the intensely humid room was treated to a mix of classic Soulive material and some choice covers courtesy of the original core of the oft-augmented combo.
After covering some material from their debut Get Down!, Kraz and the brothers Neal dipped into their most recent studio effort – Rubber Soulive. The ensuing four Beatles covers instantly upped the party vibe, their slightly altered arrangements inspiring a mess of dance moves and howls. “Come Together” was enhanced by an added jam section before Krasno rendered a gorgeous version of George Harrison’s solo in “Something.”
“Eleanor Rigby” followed with Alan injecting some breakbeat flavor over Neal’s ever-present organ drone. Krasno, however, dominated this portion of the evening – covering the vocal melodies while enjoying many opportunities to solo. His look of constant concentration was only interrupted by the occasional mouthing-along to his guitar licks, and as ‘Rigby’ segued directly into a blazing version of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” he had The Horseshoe in the palm of his hand. The votaries were then mercifully allowed a chance to step outside and cool off, as Alan announced an intermission.
The second set kicked off with “El Ron,” a quintessential Soulive staple from the self-titled 2003 LP that stretched out and showcased the effortless dynamic of the band. The familiarity between the three musicians allows for moments of subtle connection that can instantly build to explosive climax and just as quickly shrink down again.
With Krasno traveling home to New York in time for a session with ?uestlove the following afternoon, a slightly abridged second frame nevertheless remained up to par, as Alan led the crowd in a call-and-response version of “Do It Again” to close things out in funky form.
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