Sunday, June 14, 2009

Global funk connections: The Soul Investigators

I posted a while back about the unlikelihood of Finland being some kind of centre of great funk and soul music. Yet the country has a decent jazz scene, so perhaps it's not so much of an stretch. In any case, The Soul Investigators are arguably the best deep funk and soul band in the world right now, after NYC's Dap Kings of course.

Their original line up (Pete Toikkanen on guitar, Sami Kantelinen on bass, Jukka Sarapaa on drums and Antti Maattanen on organ) began in 1998, taking inspiration from 60s/70s acts like The JBs and The Meters. They were soon joined by Lasse Tolvanen (sax), Eero Savela (trumpet) and Erno Haukkala (trombone).

As good as their instrumental work is, it is their collaborations as a backing band for soul artists which has gained them the widest attention. Their chief collaborator is Nicole Willis, the American soul singer formerly of The Repercussions and who has herself worked with electronica legends Leftfield. Willis is married to Finnish techno/jazz/funk auteur Jimi Tenor, which is undoubtedly how this connection came about.

More recently, new Oakland-based soul duo Myron & E have enlisted the Soul Investigators as their backing band. Their debut single "Cold Game" has been getting a bit of play around the music blogosphere, but the b-side "I Can't Let You Get Away" is the real gem. It's a stunning slice of retro-soul balladry, which sounds messy at first, but needs a couple of listens to work its magic. It's my favourite song of 2009 actually.

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