The well-acclaimed Chi-town collective Liquid Soul boasts multiple cap feathers, such as jamming at Bill Clinton's inaugural parade, kicking out the groove at Dennis Rodman's birthday party and hosting vocalist Simone, daughter of longtime jazz/soul crooner Nina Simone, on its last Grammy nominated effort, Here's the Deal. The musically eclectic groove band, sometimes lumped into the acid-jazz category, locks into a fresh sound on Evolution, cobbling jazz-inflected funk, hip-hop, jungle and rap lite in an attempt to jump higher than it has jumped before.
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The band's new drummer, Victor Baker, who recently distinguished himself by winning the national Guitar Center drum-off, brings new muscularity and energy to the outfit. From the here-and-now beats and mercenary lyrics of "I Was Meant to Be Rich," ("Money, it's all about the money/Money, I was meant to be rich") to the very solid old-school jazz drumming on "This and That," Liquid Soul proves itself capable of shifting groove gears at the drop of a reed.
Liquid Soul, which appears Friday, January 17, at the Bluebird Theater, is known for deftly tackling a wide range of material, from avant-garde compositions by Ornette Coleman to gutbucket blues, breakbeats, mad samples and free-form, brass-driven fusion. Imagine, if you can, Tower of Power's horn section gigging with Parliament in Miles Davis's living room. It's like liquid butter -- er, make that soul.