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Soul Groovin’ Liquid Collectives
By Benson Knickerbocker

The Big Apple and the Windy City are two major epicenters in the development of jazz music. Jazz music first developed in the "cradle of jazz", New Orleans and than migrated northward to Chicago. This migration occurred during the 1920s and 1930s and was lead by the great trumpeter/bandleader Louis Armstrong who started playing in the Crescent City and than moved to Chicago to seek out fame and fortune. During the post World War II years, the jazz focus switched to the coasts – Los Angeles and New York City, with Manhattan being the ultimate goal for any aspiring musician.

While Chicago saw the development of hot jazz and swing jazz and New York City brought the advent of be-bop, 60 years later, the two cities still serve as centers for a new type of jazz – the big band, hip-hop/soul influenced acid jazz-funk. The two biggest bands are Chicago’s Liquid Soul and New York City’s Groove Collective. The two bands had simple beginnings in which they started as impromptu jam sessions in which different musicians would show up from week to week to partake in the groove. As the weeks passed on and the vibes became more solidified, the constantly revolving jam sessions transformed into full time bands.

Since these communal beginnings, both the Groove Collective and Liquid Soul have released numerous albums, endlessly toured the country and nurtured a loyal fan base. At the turn of the millennium, both bands have released new albums on Shanachie Records. With Groove Collective’s Declassified the band lives up to their album’s name by experimenting with every music style available to the ears. The opening "Up All Night" is reminiscent of the Disco Era but with hip-hop overtones. "Everything is Changing" and "Crisis" are funky Afro-Latin percussions jam with 1970s Herbie Hancock synthesizer effects. "On a Feeling" is symphonic trip hop while "Valiha" is a short ambient instrumental. Both "Guara Rumba" and "Sabrosana" evoke the percussion jams of the Latin islands while the latter tune has some intense saxophone blowing that would do Coltrane proud.

Liquid Soul’s Here’s the Deal is a continuation of what bandleader Mars Williams describes as "Beyond Acid Jazz." In a 1997 interview with the Vermont Review, Williams described the relationship between jazz and hip-hop: "It is such a natural thing to put a swing feeling on top of a hip-hop beat. It fuses itself together beautifully....as far as the rhythm goes. To put a walking bass line underneath a hip-hop drum line also works." That is what Williams felt in 1997 and still holds true today. Liquid Soul are the masters of laying down a potent danceable groove. While Groove Collective will take forays into the ambient/trip-hop, Liquid Soul focuses on rhythm. With the beautiful singing of Simone (daughter of Nina Simone) and in your face rapping of Dirty MF, Liquid Soul captures all elements of hip-hop. With Mars Williams extensive jazz resume and trumpeter Ron Haynes, the jazz is well represented. Put the two music elements together and you have Liquid Soul. Here’s the Deal has tributes to Dizzy Gillepsie and Miles Davis as well as a plethora of upbeat tunes, which makes it is a must have funk, soul, hip-hop release.

Both of these albums cane be found at http://www.shanachie.com/