VenueConnection - Fire It Up! (2011)

VenueConnection
Venue Connection-Fire.jpg

When VenueConnection formed in 2002, their mission -- according to their website -- was to “sail the uncharted waters of Afro-American music in Spain.” Original members Javier del Aguila and Fara Alvarez started their exhaustive journey with the slightly unconventional lineup of guitar, sitar and computer programming on their internet-only release, Orange Light in the Panton Room. For their 2005 debut disc, the Madrid-based duo decided to recruit a vocalist who added a warm soulful dimension to their electronically enhanced grooves. Strawberry Swan Lake, featuring current lead vocalist Angeles Dorrio, was greeted with positive responses on a few internet sites. Yet del Aguila and Alvarez expressed disappointment with the final product. This perfectionist attitude furthered their cause to sharpen their musicality and redefine their groove niche.  

When VenueConnection formed in 2002, their mission -- according to their website -- was to “sail the uncharted waters of Afro-American music in Spain.” Original members Javier del Aguila and Fara Alvarez started their exhaustive journey with the slightly unconventional lineup of guitar, sitar and computer programming on their internet-only release, Orange Light in the Panton Room. For their 2005 debut disc, the Madrid-based duo decided to recruit a vocalist who added a warm soulful dimension to their electronically enhanced grooves. Strawberry Swan Lake, featuring current lead vocalist Angeles Dorrio, was greeted with positive responses on a few internet sites. Yet del Aguila and Alvarez expressed disappointment with the final product. This perfectionist attitude furthered their cause to sharpen their musicality and redefine their groove niche.  

With only six years under their belt, VenueConnection had evolved from an electronic jazz soul trio to a culture-bending funk ensemble on the 2008 follow-up, Madrid Boogie. Three years removed from Madrid Boogie, the VenueConnection members have topped themselves with their biggest pride and joy to date, Fire It Up!, that delivers sizzling funk, tasteful slow jams and passionate vocals by Angeles Dorrio and Karl Frierson. 

Fire It Up! from del Aguila and Alvarez’s label, Keepin’ The Groove, beckons jazz funk’s golden era, the late ‘70s age of Herbie Hancock, Patrice Rushen and dozens more.  Thanks to the crisp foundations from drummer/percussionist Miguel Cabana and del Aguila’s swift bass guitar lines, VenueConnection nails all the groove pockets with shear precision. The debut single offthe project, the disco thumping “Hide and Seek,” thrives on Dorrio and Frierson’s compelling vocal performance. Dorrio’s vocal confidence continues to grow as evidenced on the gospel-tinged, “How Does It Feel.” Frierson, a holdover from Madrid Boogie, never hesitates to attack everything with a sassy soulful personality, such as an entertaining nod to VenueConnection on “Besame Sol.” On the instrumental side, “Counselor!” flows with a be-bop sensibility without forsaking that irresistible hip-hop fueled funk. Alvarez’s melodic sitar and de Aguila’s warm guitar tones firmly sets the tone for the slower grooved, “Combination.” 

The groove-filled party on Fire It Up! is inviting in every way and is by far the best work from VenueConnection. With this project, VenueConnection has also their place in Spain’s soul/funk market and effectively extended their brand to the rest of the world.

Notable Tracks:  “Fire It Up,” “Do Your Thang,” “Movin’ On,” and “Happiness.”        
Vocals:  3.5 stars
Lyrics:  3.0 stars
Music:  4.0 stars
Production:  4.0 stars
SoulTracks Call:  Highly Recommended  

By Peggy Oliver

 
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