Greg Skaff – Soulmation – ZohoMusic

by | May 9, 2017 | Jazz CD Reviews

Greg Skaff – Soulmation – ZohoMusic ZM 201702 55:19***

Unfamiliar structures but with a bustling and enthusiastic style. 

( Greg Skaff – guitars; Fima Ephron – electric bass; Pat Bianchi – Hammond organ; Jonathan Barber – drums; Charlie Drayton – drums #1,2,9,10)

In today’s urban environment, funky is defined as “different but cool”. As a catchall definition, it works well as a representation of Greg Skaff’s guitar  on his release Soulmation. But it is much more than that, as he wails and rips up and down the fret board throughout the dozen tracks on this album.

Supported by two iterations of a Hammond B-3 organ trio, Skaff grinds out the music in a gutty  fashion on twelve tracks, of which nine are Skaff originals. The proceedings open with”Conjure”,  a spirited New Orleans flavoured bauble with some wicked single-note styling from Skaff.  The title track “Soulmation” has that Motown feel that the band rides with a rugged rhythmic thread.

As for the non-Skaff compositions, they could not be more different. Firstly there is Duke Ellington’s “Fleurette Africaine” tucked away between Jan Hammer’s “Smoke In The Sun” and Anthony Lloyd Newton’s “Snake Oil”. The juxtaposition is interesting as Skaff looks at the Ellington piece in a clear and clean style, with the rhythmic drumming provided by Jonathan Barber. Hammer received his most prominent recognition with the scoring of the Miami Vice TV series starting in 1984. His composition here does not have any of that surf and sun feel, but is waltz with chamber jazz attractiveness. The other bookend by Newton feeds off Ephron’s electric bass lines, with Skaff’s tawny guitar in bold relief.

The band motors along in unfamiliar structures, but with a bustling and enthusiastic style.

TrackList: Conjure; Genmaicha; Soulmation; Mother Root; Smoke In The Sun; Bottom Feeder; Fleurette Africaine; Porcupine Hat; Talisman; Juke; Snake Oil; Somewhere In The Middle East

—Pierre Giroux

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