Something Else! | Soul Jazz Review


Something Else! | Soul Jazz Review

by Darnell Jackson

Something-Else-5-Finger-Review-CDWhen soul jazz burst onto the scene in the late 1950s and early 1960s, it was a revolution—a thrilling fusion of hard bop’s muscularity and the foot-tapping, window-rattling grooves of contemporary soul and R&B. For those who lived through that era, soul jazz is more than a genre; it’s a heartbeat, a lifeline, and a whole lot of fun to play.

Enter Something Else!, a new supergroup led by the indomitable Vincent Herring, an alto saxophonist whose résumé reads like a who’s who of jazz legends. With their debut album Soul Jazz, this all-star septet—featuring Jeremy Pelt on trumpet, Wayne Escoffery on tenor saxophone, Paul Bollenback on guitar, David Kikoski on piano, Essiet Essiet on bass, and Otis Brown III on drums—delivering a groove-driven jazz that is fresh and vibrant.

“Filthy McNasty” shows the groove Essiet and Brown can lay down a relentless groove. It’s an exhilarating start thatSomething-Else-2 leaves no doubt about the ensemble’s intent: to groove hard and have a blast doing it.

“Too Blue” follows, with Kikoski’s keyboard dripping blues over a slinky, gritty groove. Bollenback’s guitar weaves through this tapestry before the saxes take over, each note a testament to the band’s soulful chemistry. This track epitomizes the feel-good essence of soul jazz, capturing the genre’s ability to move the spirit and the body in equal measure.

“Mean Greens” touches on the gospel side of Hard-Bop, with Herring’s alto sax soaring over a congregation of precise licks and bluesy undertones. Meanwhile, “The Chicken” brings pure funk bliss, buoyed by Essiet’s commanding bassline and Escoffery’s angular, energetic solo.

“Driftin'” shows Pelt’s trumpeting skills as his ideas dance through the harmony, creating a grounded and expansive dialogue. “Slow Drag” slows the tempo but not the intensity. “Strasbourg/St. Denis” crackles with life, driven by handclaps and strong playing by all. “Naima” aligns with the soul jazz movement’s celebratory spirit.

Something-Else-1Vincent Herring’s Something Else! was not formed solely to educate the younger generation on the thrill of soul jazz, but if it enlightens along the way, all the better. Soul Jazz feels good, played by some of the best musicians in the business. It’s an invitation to experience the joy, passion, and sheer fun of soul jazz—a genre that continues to inspire and move listeners decades after its inception.


Soul Jazz

Release Date: June 14, 2024

Label: Smoke Sessions Records

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Darnell Jackson

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