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September 2001

Paprika Soul
Paprika Soul
Higher Octave Music

Soul/jazz didn't always mean thumping, boudoir ballads with breathless vocals and tingly synthesizers. The '70s blend of soul/jazz was more likely to incorporate classic R&B and funk elements into a high energy, joyful jam. That spirit is captured by London-based septet Paprika Soul, whose self-titled album (Higher Octave HOJCD 50957; 60:48) grooves and rolls, through well-placed covers and raging originals.

Exemplifying style and spirit is a great read of the familiar "Jungle Strut," featuring the comfortable, '70s-styled wacka-wacka guitar line and Hammond jamming in a revolving, near-psychedelic groove, while Poli Cousse jams on tenor sax through hard-soul breaks. A huge, boss horn sound drives Paprika original "Burn It Up," while "Bad, Bad Simba" dares you to dance with its funky bass and snaking flute refrain. Brisk is the word to describe many of the raging tempos here, from the Latin stylized "Rio Dawn" to the running piano of "He Loves You." The funk-pumping heart of the band is stated outright in the lyrics to the rollicking fusion-Latin, "Skindo Le Le": "When you sing, you smile," croons vocalist Sarah Newell in a contrasting, languid line, "Things are better every day / Why don't you join us?" After a couple of spins of this frisky disc, you'll be hard-pressed not to join in the fun.

Originally published in September 2001
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