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It’s hard to wholeheartedly recommend a Soulive concert without knowing which of the bands documented on the young organ trio’s two albums will show up. Both discs feature the same personnel, but a funny thing happened in the year between Soulive’s dirty, steamy 2000 debut, Turn It Out (Velour), and its follow-up, Doin’ Something (recorded for the historic champion of organ trios, Blue Note): the band got a little cleaner and a little duller. At their best, they funnel the breezy chicken-shack funk of Jimmy Smith’s 50s and 60s records through the matrix of modern pop and hip-hop, producing a dark, explosive style tough enough to get a smile out of a mosh-pit veteran. Like Britain’s James Taylor, organist Neal Evans cranks up the volume on his Hammond B-3’s foot pedals, creating fuzzy, floorboard-warping bass lines; this sound marks the bottom edge of Soulive’s aural profile, while the top belongs to the tart guitar of Eric Krasno, an improviser as conversant with Jimi Hendrix and Alvin Lee as he is with Grant Green and early Pat Martino. And Evans’s older brother, drummer Alan–an alumnus of groovemeister Karl Denson’s bands–does a terrific job integrating hip-hop accents and rock electricity into a rhythmic feel that still swings, even if it’s not precisely jazz. I’m betting that big-label studio jitters got the best of them on Doin’ Something, and that the band from Turn It Out will turn up here. Saturday, September 1, 8:30 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn; 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Andrew MacNaughtan.