When brothers Neal and Alan Evans first invited guitarist Eric Krasno to get down at their Woodstock, NY studio, it was out of mutual love for the great soul-jazz organ trios of the ’60s and ’70s (Jimmy Smith, Groove Holmes, Brother Jack McDuff). Now, a decade into the band’s career, which has seen forays into hip-hop, reggae, R&B, blues, rock and soul, eras featuring horns and a vocalist, and collaborations with artists as diverse as Derek Trucks, Joshua Redman, Robert Randolph and Talib Kweli, it was another shared love that brought the trio to drummer Alan’s Playonbrother Studio to record their latest, Rubber Soulive.
“We’ve always been big Beatles fans,” says Krasno, who had been working on an arrangement of “Get Back” for his recent solo record Reminisce when all those remastered Beatles records came out last year. “We thought about doing all of Rubber Soul,” Krasno says, “but that band has so many great tunes. We picked the ones that lent themselves well to our sound, and others where we could add the Soulive flavor.”
Following last year’s Up Here, Rubber Soulive finds the band pushing on with its original trio formula. After 2006’s No Place Like Soul, which saw the addition of vocalist Toussaint Yeshua, Soulive decided to scale it back again and focus on the trio. This doesn’t mean, though, (to paraphrase Ringo) that the three don’t still get high with a little help from their friends. Their new artist run label Royal Family Records is home to plenty of the band’s longtime coconspirators like the Shady Horns (Sam Kininger and Ryan Zoidis) and Nigel Hall, and all the Soulive side projects, including Lettuce, Fyre Dept, Chapter 2, and Adam Deitch’s Break Science.
One decade young, Soulive is not a band to look backward, but when they do, they look way back. With a quiver full of Beatles tunes and the lineup that put them on the forefront of the soul jazz revival, Soulive is grooving harder than ever.