The Chicago Soul Jazz Collective shouldn’t be accused of false advertising; they are exactly what their name suggests. On their second recording, they begin to move away from the classic repertoire (and its long shadows) that made their debut recording Soulophone more of a position paper than a celebration. Here, they roll with seven originals that show the band finding its footing, merging its influences, and beginning to assert an independent spirit and voice.
With its balance of tight grooves and heady solos, the CSJC leans a tad closer to the MSMW side of the soulful jazz/jazz-adjacent jam band scene. The sextet was founded three years ago during a recording session for Robbie Fulks, when saxophonist John Fournier and trumpeter Marques Carroll discovered a shared passion for soul-jazz classics as a means of dealing with the state of the world. Their discussions led to the creation of a band that began wowing crowds at live shows, quickly followed by their first album, which features covers of such nuggets as “Prayer Meeting,” “The Rumproller,” “The In Crowd,” and “Wade in the Water.”
It Takes a Spark to Start a Fire was mostly recorded live with an eye toward recapturing the band’s onstage flair. Nicholas Payton joins for the smooth “Her Eyes Are Blue and Sometimes Gray,” and Raul Midón takes a guest turn on “Where Do You Go When You Dream?” There are snippets and quotes that recall the band’s roots (for instance, a nifty interpolation of “Killer Joe”), but mostly this is a statement about where CSJC is going rather than where it’s been