Review: The Soul Jazz Rebels – Iconiq – 2024


Five years after our first meeting with the French quartet The Soul Jazz Rebels, which happened in connection with the release of its second, self-titled album, I can testify that the quartet has retained its identity – an unchanged and rather original (without bassist) composition: saxophonist Jean Verniere, guitarist Cyril Amourette, organist Hervé Saint-Giron and drummer Christian “Ton Ton” Salu, and also retained his characteristic, recognizable voice.

You can verify this by getting acquainted with the new work of the musicians – the album Iconiq.

Eight compositions, seven of them original, made up his program. As usual with The Soul Jazz Rebels, all members of the ensemble are composers. Three plays were composed by Salus, two by Saint-Girons, and one each by Verniere and Amurette. And the album opens with a single cover – the composition Ambalaba, born off the coast of Africa, on the island of Mauritius – a lively, light dance rhythm and an equally energetic dialogue between tenor saxophone and Hammond organ.

There is also one more piece in the program that sends the listener to the African shores – Christian Salu’s composition Bango, Bango. In these tracks there is little connection with the African-American jazz tradition, but in most of the pieces The Soul Jazz Rebels live up to their name. Everything pulses in Saint Giron’s play, appropriately titled Bouncy. It begins with an organ intro, and then the theme is led by guitar and saxophone with a precise assist from the author of the piece. The guitar and organ in The Shufe Dancer and the saxophone and organ in Flèchetanque work in a manner typical of soul-jazz, playing on the traditional call and response technique of African-American music. The piece by guitarist Amurette, Are You Sure, stands out somewhat in the program. This is perhaps the only ballad composition on the album. It begins with an alarming introduction of drums, but then Cyril himself confidently and emotionally leads the main theme of his piece.

Of course, the third and second albums of the group differ from each other, some are closer to the new work of The Soul Jazz Rebels, others – the previous one, this is a matter of taste. But when I said a little higher that the quartet’s voice has been preserved, I also meant the general, very emotional and positive mood of the French ensemble’s music, which unexpectedly brings it closer not only to soul jazz, but also to much earlier traditional jazz. The soul of jazz, born in New Orleans and Chicago, lives in the music of The Soul Jazz Rebels, but, of course, it manifests itself in a different way.

01. Ambalaba
02. Bouncy
03. Are You Sure
04. Flechetanque
05. Bango Bango
06. The Shuffle Dancer
07. What Else?
08. Train fou

Drums – Christion Ton Ton Salut
Guitar – Cyril Amourette
Organ – Hervé Saint-Guirons
Tenor Saxophone – Jean Vernheres

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