souljazz orchestra photo
Mad beats, lots of horns and sounds from every corner of the world will fill Barrymore’s this weekend, as three local bands come together to give a concert with a conscience.
One of Ottawa’s hottest bands — Souljazz Orchestra — will be joined by fellow roots-reggae-funk bands Jokko and Kobo Town for Music is the Weapon, a benefit show to raise awareness and funds for Canadian Friends of Sudan and Canadian Friends of Burma.
“Shows like this are one way musicians can become advocates,” explains Ray Murray, Souljazz Orchestra’s saxophone-master.
“It not only reinforces what we try to say in our music, but it helps out people who really need it.”
Musically, Souljazz Orchestra is the kind of band that defies labels. Their style is a melange of jazz, funk, African and Latin sounds. Lyrically, they often focus on spiritual or political themes that run the gamut from issues close to home to those with global repercussions.
Though Murray describes the band as a “group of normal guys from all parts of Northern and Southwestern Ontario,” he says they share both a love of world beats and positive activism.
And while he acknowledges that politically charged music can have an alienating effect on some people, Murray says the band isn’t trying to be overtly political. It’s just who they are.
“Our idea with our music is to encourage people to put down their weapons and start getting along. It may come at a price but we’re willing to pay the price to make sure that the music is meaningful,” comments Murray.
They’ll be in the company of some like-minded musicians too. Jokko — a group Murray says his band really came to admire after they played together to celebrate the release of Souljazz Orchestra’s latest CD — has members that originate from countries as varied as Senegal, Afghanistan, Ecuador and Croatia.
Usmane Ali, one of Jokko’s founders, has described the band as a grassroots musical collective that uses music, song and dance to inspire peace.
Kobo Town, named after a thriving neighbourhood in Trinidad’s Port of Spain, plays calypso music flavoured with roots and reggae.
Local DJs Mz. Revolution and Zattar will provide the sounds between sets.
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