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Memento by Soel

The lineage of Momento, the new album by Soel, may appear rather serpentine because, well, it is.

Trumpeter Pascal Ohse is a member of St. Germain, the best-selling European group led by Ludovic Navarre. When it came time for Ohse to unveil his first solo effort, he chose to call it Soel, a West African name that honors his Guinean roots. He unveils a part-acoustic/part-electronic work that breaks the boundaries of soul, funk and blaxploitation soundtracks.

The music is a hybrid of funk, world beat, cool jazz and the soundtrack of a late 1960s or early ’70s blaxploitation film. In fact, several tracks could easily find room in the Shaft film series. The third song, My Singing Soul, for example, features a deep vocal that pays homage to both Barry White and Isaac Hayes.

Among the album’s soulful vocal collaborations are clement Ashford’s beautiful rendition of Earth Mother, a tribute to an American Indian poem with bongos, tabla and a dub background, and Victoria "Tori" Robinson, an American gospel singer who lives between Paris and Florida, and depicts the madness of our time on To This World, one of two likely dance floor fillers. The other is the opening track, Le Vicomte (The Viscount) , a tribute to a record collector friend who helped Soel with his research work.

Elsewhere on the album, the tempo slows down, from Shining Pain and Black Woman - inspired by the aforementioned blaxploitation soundtracks - to the gospel-infused My Singing Soul or the somber We Have Died Already, which brings to mind the vitality of the urban poets of the 1960s.

Throughout, Memento is loaded with music that’s bound to inspire and provoke thought. It’s a fascinating change of pace from the usual recordings.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Soel
  • CD Title: Memento
  • Genre: Soul / Funk Jazz
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: Warner Bros. Records
  • Tracks: Le Vicomte, Shining Pains, My Singing Soul, Prelude, Black Woman, The Earth Mother, To This World, The Way U R, We Have Died Already
  • Musicians: Pascal Ohse, trumpet; Victoria “Tori” Robinson, Clement “Clem” Ashford and Chris Henry, vocals; Edouard Labor, sax, flute, alto flute; Rachid Mouna, baritone sax; Mike Clinton, bass; Edmundo Carneiro, percussion; Edivandro Borges, trombone; Frantz Calcul and Alex Legrand, guitars; Didier Davidas, keyboards
  • Rating: Three Stars
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