VENUE CONNECTION: Mardid Boogie (Label: Phazz a Delic)

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Despite the utterances of blinkered purists, real soul music knows no boundaries. If you have the ears and the heart you can feel the music whether it’s been made in Memphis, Mali, Moldova or Madrid – and Madrid is the source of this never-less-than interesting 16 tracker from Venue Connection. I know nothing about the band, but my guess is that they are session musicians who hang out at the Spanish capital’s Venue Studios. It’s also my contention that they and their producer Javier del Aguila have listened long and hard to all kinds of soul and jazz – but that their predilection is for the sounds peddled by people like Incognito, the Brand New Heavies, Shakatak and even Level 42…though there’s much more to their overall sound than that. Some tracks here feature sitars, others are enhanced with flamenco hand claps while elsewhere there’s some fine true jazz piano courtesy of Sergio Delgado and much more besides. The track that perhaps best sums up this unique sound synthesis is the closer, ‘Is It Right?’. It begins with some classical Spanish guitar, before Delgado’s jazz licks float over shuffling beats; there’s a passionate and to-the-point vocal from Angeles Dorrio and an abundance of cross-fertilised musical ideas to create a complexity that matches the questioning title. It’s a good track, though in fairness, its intricacies will probably leave simplistic modern soul shufflers cold. They’ll probably prefer the pacey title cut with its grumbling bass lines, the slinky ‘Cool Vanilla’ or the polite funk of ‘Stand Up’. More variety, though, is offered with ‘The Guitar’; this one starts with flamenco clapping before paying obvious homage to Earl Klugh. ‘Stay At Home’ features some lovely crisp keys. ‘Walkin’ In Your Dream’ is a cool and light Latin lilter, while ‘Oriental Glamour’ would possibly be best enjoyed watching the sun rise over the Café Del Mar. They all add to this album’s enjoyment and like I alluded to up top, this sure ain’t classic soul but there’s soul-a-plenty in the Connection’s grooves. The album’s currently available via
(BB) 3/5