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Chicago Soul Jazz Collective: Soulophone (Self-released)

A review of the debut album from the talented sextet

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Soulophone by Chicago Soul Jazz Collective
The cover of Soulophone by Chicago Soul Jazz Collective

A common misnomer is that music with horns is jazz. Add horns to R&B rhythms, or to blues progressions, and it’s practically an automatic perception. Such is the case with the Chicago Soul Jazz Collective, a talented sextet that further skews jazz by having primarily acoustic instrumentalists (tenor saxophonist John Fournier, trumpeter Marques Carroll, pianist Amr Marcin Fahmy, bassist Andrew Vogt, drummer Keith Brooks) along with electric guitarist Kyle Asche on its debut CD, Soulophone.

The Chicago veterans formed to salute the city’s early-1960s “soul-jazz era” by recreating recordings by Ramsey Lewis, Herbie Hancock, and Stanley Turrentine. But Soulophone actually leans more toward Chicago’s ’60s soul sound—which rivaled Detroit’s Motown and Memphis’ Stax—and that, in essence, takes it more into the blues territory Chicago is best known for. Jimmy Smith’s opening “Prayer Meeting,” despite fine solos by Fournier, Carroll, and Asche and the best efforts of Fahmy on electric piano, is reduced to a blues shuffle without Smith’s gritty Hammond organ.

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