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It comes as no surprise that a jazz band as gritty and soulful as Disaster Relief should have its foundations in Detroit, the home of Motown. Featuring a large cast of seasoned jazz professionals, their self-titled debut Disaster Relief started as a series of improvisational jam sessions and gradually codified into the current package of raw soul grooves and tight, screaming horns. Never mind the artwork which calls to mind the typography of Pet Sounds, this record is far funkier than anything ever attempted by The Beach Boys, and above all, it’s a fantastically fun forty-five minutes which serves best as the soundtrack to any party.
In the spirit of MFSB or the Salsoul Orchestra, there’s nothing especially deep or groundbreaking in these songs, but the band themselves admit the project is a stylized attempt at “joyful escapism.” Songs like “Too Hot For June” perfectly capture vintage 60’s soul, while more extended tracks like “Transplant” are reminiscent of the more psychedelic style the genre adapted as the ’70s wore on. You’d be hard pressed to find many horn sections today finer than the one in Disaster Relief, and this album comes just in time to remedy this summer’s heat wave.
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