A high-energy multicultural collective from Ottawa, Ontario, the Souljazz Orchestra -- featuring keyboardist Pierre Chrétien, alto saxophonist Zakari Frantz, baritone saxophonist Ray Murray, tenor saxophonist Steve Patterson, and percussionists Marielle Rivard and Philippe Lafrenière, all of whom are also vocalists -- took root in 2002 and debuted with a fully developed sound that fused Latin and African jazz, funk, and Afro-beat.
The group's first album was Uprooted, released in 2005 on the Funk Manchu
label, but it was the overtly political 2006 single "Mista President," from second album Freedom No Go Die (Do Right!
), that really increased their audience; it was voted to the number nine spot in the 2006 Top 30 of BBC DJ Gilles Peterson
's Worldwide program. Manifesto, the third Souljazz Orchestra album, was released in 2008. Two years later, they moved to the higher-profile Strut
label for Rising Sun, another Peterson
favorite. After nearly constant touring for a year, the band reentered the studio; the result was Solidarity, released in the early fall of 2012. After touring Canada, Europe, and Asia, the band reconvened at Metropolitan Studios in Ottawa in late 2013, emerging with Inner Fire, which was released in February of 2014. After a global tour, the Souljazz Orchestra hit the studio again with fresh influences from the discothèques of Francophone Africa and the French Caribbean woven into their mix. They pre-released the video single "Shock and Awe" in July of 2015, followed by "Courage" a month later, and the full-length Resistance was issued in September. In 2017, they returned with the '80s synth-inflected Under Burning Skies. ~ Andy Kellman, Rovi