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NEXT (Blue Note) • Soulive

Best add this to the collection, let's start there. You need it, I need it. Soulive is delivering the fat funky jazz beats nonstop in every cut, lighting up all the chakras in turn. Pathos, sex, triumph, determination, search. That drum set through the tube amp is cracking so hard it feels like someone's got me by the hair, but it feels good, you know. And then they let you down so easy with a ballad like Dave Matthews singing the Ani DiFranco gem "Joyful Girl." For a band that hits so hard, there is a lot of love in this brilliant quartet.

With or without a partner, this is a prime CD for dance therapy, which we strongly advocate. Everybody can afford it. If you're scoffing, maybe you need it the most. Turn this up and work out to it. See how funky you are?

From the liner notes: "But never mind if you're a hip-hop head or a hippie or a jazz hipster, this joint is just hip. The Soulive sound reaches out to all people, making your grandma smile while you twist away on the dance floor. So whether you're at a rent party or an after-party, a mountain-top jazz fest or an underground jazz club, listen up for what is NEXT."

Soulive is Neal Evans on keys, Eric Krasno on guitar, Alan Evans on drums, and Sam Kininger on alto saxophone. Next is their fourth record, and the first so-called modern one. Here, the more traditional soul and jazz elements are fiercely and singularly integrated with hip hop, funk and modern R&B. Aside from Dave Matthews (with whom the band will tour this year), Next features vocalists Black Thought of The Roots, Talib Kweli, and Amel Larrieux.

Just back from a successful tour of Japan, Soulive is hitting the road hard, and is popular with all kinds of people. They headline at major hippie fests like Bonnaroo, Sasquatch, and The Gathering of the Vibes Festivals, they will play some huge venues with Dave Matthews in April, and rooms of all kinds all over America. Get there. Check out their mighty cool website, and groove to a few clips of the band on our Listen page. • FG

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