At the tender age of 26, Soulive drummer Alan Evans has attained a pinnacle of jazz success. The group's latest album, Doin' Something, was released this month under the prestigious Blue Note imprint.
"It's great to pull the CD out of its case and look at the label," Evans said from his Northampton, Massachusetts, home. "I can't believe it sometimes."
Doin' Something (RealAudio excerpt)
takes Soulive's mix of funk and jazz one step further, with a fat bass end that has more in common with hip-hop than with the jazz or jam bands to whom the group is often compared.
"We wanted the album to be thick and beefy right from the beginning," Evans said. "We listened to a lot of drum'n'bass and hip-hop before we went into the studio."
With Evans behind the kit, brother Neal on the organ and guitarist Eric Krasno, Soulive find themselves most often compared to veteran jazz organist Jimmy Smith, a comparison Alan just doesn't get.
"Other than the organ, we really don't hear any similarity," Evans said. "The only thing we have in common with Jimmy Smith is that he played the music of his time and we play the music of our's."
In addition to fattening the bass end, Soulive sweetened its sound on four tracks with former James Brown trombonist Fred Wesley, who appears on the title track and "Cannonball" (RealAudio excerpt), a tribute to Cannonball Adderley. Wesley and his horn section also appear on the spacey improv jam "Roll the Tape" (RealAudio excerpt).
That tune reflects the band's impromptu nature. After playing with Karl Denson's Greyboy Allstars in San Diego, Evans tired of the sideman gig while Neal was equally fed up with school. They moved near Woodstock, New York, and hooked up with a local vibes player who quit the band on the way to their first gig.
Krasno sat in that evening, then Soulive began auditioning permanent replacements. Evans called Krasno again. "I think I called him on March 1 (1999)," Evans said. "By the end of March 2, we had our first disc finished."
Doin' Something follows their 1999 EP Get Down! and last year's full-length Turn It Out.Evans said the new album's tunes were honed on the road during the band's headlining tours and while opening for John Scofield, Medeski Martin & Wood and DJ Logic.
"We write our songs long before we ever go into the studio, and we give them life on the road," Evans said, "Then, when it's time to go into the studio, the tunes are second nature to us."
The group toured Japan earlier this spring. "It's really cool over there," Evans said. "It's just about the music."
Soulive is on tour through July. Here are some upcoming dates according to their website:
- 4/3 - Nashville, TN @ 328 Performance Hall (with Galactic)
- 4/4 - Memphis, TN @ New Daisy Theatre (with Galactic)
- 4/6-7 - Austin, TX @ Stubb's Bar-B-Q (with Galactic)
- 4/8 - Dallas, TX @ Gypsy Tea Room (with Galactic)
- 4/14 - Durham, NC @ Duke University
- 4/19-20 - New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
- 4/21 - Ithaca, NY @ Odyssey
- 4/22 - New Haven, CT @ Toad's Place
- 4/25 - Northampton, MA @ Pearl St.
- 4/26-27 - Boston, MA @ Paradise Club
- 4/28 - Portland, ME @ State Theatre
- 4/29 - Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground