Formed in Woodstock, New York in 1999, soul/jazz/funk troubadours Soulive have become the Booker T & the MGs of this decade, an organ-led trio mixing wonderful musicianship with a sense of fun and funk and resulting in a slew of memorable, danceable performances.
Soon after their formation, organist Neal Evans, his brother, Drummer Alan Evans, and guitarist Eric Krasno were wowing audiences around the Northeast with their fresh brand of funky, danceable music that certainly had jazz elements, but also paid tribute to the funk masters of Detroit and, even more, Memphis. Their Hammond B3-led sound was a throwback (as were their retro outfits), but seemed so incredibly fresh in 2000 that the group became immediately identifiable on record or onstage and earned a reputation as one of the most exciting young groups to hit the jazz scene.
After a couple independently released discs, Soulive signed with Blue Note Records and in 2001 released Doin' Something, a marvelous disc that landed in the jazz top 10 and brought the group a national audience. They followed it the next year with Next, a slightly less interesting album that appeared to be an attempt to go after a broader audience with a number of collaborations with artists such as Dave Matthews.
Regularly touring over the next few years with an eclectic collection of performers ranging from Matthews to the Rolling Stones to India.Arie, Soulive became one of the hottest instrumental groups in the US and developed a cult-like following that varied from young funk and hip-hop lovers to classic jazz enthusiasts.
Soulive left Blue Note to sign with emerging urban/jazz label Concord Records in 2005 and released Break Out, their first studio album in three years. They brought in even more guests for Break Out, including Ivan Neville (of the Neville Brothers), Chaka Khan, Living Colour's Corey Glover, Maktub's lead vocalist Reggie Watts, and pedal steel guru Robert Randolph.
By Chris Rizik