SOIL AND PIMP SESSIONS / “We Want More!!!!!”

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This is jazz. This is not jazz. In Japan they call this stuff club-jazz, meaning it’s music for the club scene. It’s a jazz combo with a hype man out front instead of a vocalist. Acoustic instruments with a hard, hard electronic sound. Did I say hard? Diamond hard.

Either you’ll dig it or hate it. They don’t fade off into the background. My reference is hard, hard bop (think Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers when Lee Morgan was in the band) except these guys are more horn led (after all who could do Art Blakey on drums?). But hard bop is just the foundation of the sound. The other part is this almost manic, hyper kinectic veneer, sort of like playing a Dizzy Gillespie LP at double time.

I don’t know how they make the sound, but it’s no accident. They work at it. Have honed it to an artform. I’ve seen videos. Imagine a guy walking around with a megaphone, shouting out encouragement as a saxophonist does his best to blow the keys off his horn. (The sax player reminds me of a Eric Dolphy approach with a junior league Albert Ayler sound.) These are computer children playing acoustic instruments. They sound like they drink acid for breakfast and eat healthy for dinner. There is something brilliantly not-quite-right about these guys.

(I don’t know how they came up with the off the wall name. One legend is that the band was originally called “Soil and Hemp Sessions” but Singapore wouldn’t let them in with for a tour with that name so they choose “Soil and Pimp Sessions.” Go figure.)
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The band is Shacho - "agitator"/president, Tabu Zombie - trumpet, Motoharu - sax, Josei - keyboards, Akita Goldman - double bass and Midorin – drums. Regardless of what you call them or the style of music they play, it’s really clear that this is an original development. Check them out and come to your own conclusion. All of the tracks except for the live cut are from their new album, Pimpoint.
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I’ve included one live cut featuring Los Angeles jazz vocalist Dwight Tribble. They perform “You’ve Got To Have Freedom,” a Pharoah Sanders song. Hearing them throw down live let’s you know that their sound is no studio tricknology. Who would have thunk it?

—Kalamu ya Salaam

           I tried...         

I tried hard to like these cats, particularly since their style of percussive club-jazz is the type of thing I usually like. But where's the funk? Where's the soul? Where's the swing? Where's the mistakes, man? Like Kalamu said, these dudes are way too loud and intense for ambivalence. He's right: you're going to either love them or hate them. Me, I hate 'em. But listen to the love from a review I found online:

"Soil & Pimp have a sound that grasps you right away, an incredibly precise approach to jazz, one that has them riffing away with an intensity that recalls some of the big groups from the 70s soul jazz scene but which seems to blow even them away with sheer ferocity."

What's weird is I agree with the reviewer right down the line, except that everything he describes is a reason I don't like them rather than do. Incredibly precise? Yeah, true. Too precise and that's exactly the problem. Why the hell would I want to hear 'precise' jazz? That's almost an oxymoron. Listen to the Toots Thielmans version of "Autumn Leaves." Toots and his bass player Marc Johnson are all over the place, obviously making a lot of it up as they go along. Johnson keeps playing these little sounds between the notes that may or may not be intentional - it's hard to tell. But that's one of the things that makes the piece work. Or check out Miles' solo on his and Cannonball's version. Miles in particular made a career out of making mistakes with his horn. But the only thing imperfect thing about these Soil & Pimp cats is their name. They play like they've been programmed by a computer. They never miss a note, never hesitate, never let even a crease appear in that wall of sound they create. I love electronic music, but not as a replacement for 'real' instrumentation. I like computers when they actually sound like computers. What I don't like is musicians playing so precisely that they sound like computers.

The reviewer also mentions that S&P "recalls some of the big groups of the 70s." Check. True. But to me, they sound like The J.B.'s minus the funk (but with both the volume and tempo amped way up). Later on, he mentions S&P's "sheer ferocity." Again, that's true, but why? They don't seem passionate, just loud. They're a tight band and what they do sound like it takes a lot of both skill and practice, but when I listen to this type of jazz, it's got to come with some soul, swing or funk or I'm just not trying to hear it.

—Mtume ya Salaam

This entry was posted on Sunday, April 22nd, 2007 at 2:30 am and is filed under Contemporary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “SOIL AND PIMP SESSIONS / “We Want More!!!!!””

Ukali Says:
April 27th, 2007 at 7:38 pm

Okay, I listened. They ain’t so bad.

Is there such a thing as Disco Jazz?

Uh… let me put that another way: I don’t drink coffee — can’t stand the taste — but it does have a nice aroma.

carlos Says:
August 30th, 2008 at 10:28 am

Soil and Pimp sessions rule! I love the song Summer Goodness the best.

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