Tuesday 12 January 2021

'Soul Hunters' by Soul Hunters

For A.MA Records, 2020 proved to be an incredible year which saw the label bursting with creative energy leading to huge successes.  Releases from Andrea Gomellini, Sanja Markovic, Sébastien Jarrousse Quartet and Pippo D'Ambrosio did wonders for carrying the label to continually new audiences beyond their home in Bari, Italy, and mere days into 2021, A.MA Records are already staking their claim to another year boasting some of their typically exquisite jazz releases.

Which takes us to the first of A.MA's 2021 line-up - the debut self-titled project by the Soul Hunters.  With a collective comprised of guitarist Alberto Parmegiani and revered sound engineer Tullio Ciriello, the trio is excitedly rounded out by A.MA founder himself, Antonio Martino, who serves as the project's co-producer.  Through the label, Martino has not only used the opportunity to showcase some immeasurable Italian and European talent but also to share a vision for contemporary jazz that continues to genuinely deliver a thrilling perspective.  

And for the project's composer and arranger, Alberto Parmegiani, Soul Hunters proves a fantastic extension to his own musical ideologies that were initially ushered in back in 2015 with the release of his own Quintet project, 'Under A Shimmery Grace' (A.MA).  Even as far back as six years ago, Parmegiani was keen to provide his own contemporary spin on a classic aesthetic with 'Under A Shimmery Grace' hosting some beautiful compositions.  With the Soul Hunters project, Parmegiani, Martino and Ciriello immerse the project within a more soul-inspired soundscape and are backed by an incredible array of musicians including Pasquale Strizzi and Francesco Schepisi on keyboards, Gianluca Aceto and Giampaolo Laurentaci on bass, Fabio Accardi on drums and horns by Francesco Lomangino, Antonio Fallacara and Giuseppe Todisco.  

The contributions of vocalists Donatella Montinaro and Paola Arcieri beautifully elevate the project with their sublime performances - Montinaro assisting in providing the perfect album opener with the rich and warm 'Where Has All The Love Gone' and Arcieri excelling with the early-90s-esque sounding 'A Brand New Soul'.  Brian Ferreir also warrants mention for his rapped verses which once again help to steer the project within a more contemporary (neo) soul setting.

There's something about this album that makes the project, both, something distinctly an A.MA release yet something wholly original for them at the same time.  The elegant production and arrangements, the crisp performances from an awesome collection of artists, are all synonymous with the label's past releases but this new direction that strives to pay homage to a new and modern era of soul music just all adds up to a fantastic record within the A.MA catalogue.  And the first great record for 2021.

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