According to Jez Colin, there’s a revolution under way in jazz and pop music. The bassist with the Los Angeles-based Solsonics says that young people are getting into acid jazz--an amalgam of funk, hip-hop and more traditional jazz sounds. Colin further thinks that the sub-genre is poised to become a legitimate link in the evolutionary chain of jazz, along with bop, cool, swing and Dixieland.
“There’s definitely a movement going on, whether you call it acid jazz or street jazz or soul jazz or hip-hop jazz,” the London-bred Colin said in a recent phone interview from his home in Los Angeles.
“I just came back from Virgin Megastore, where we were No. 12 on their (in-store sales) chart.
“That’s very cool for me, to be right up there with Soundgarden, Us Three, Tori Amos and Crash Test Dummies. Obviously, there’s an audience out there that’s buying this music.”
The 10-member group, which performs tonight at the Coach House, is among a new wave of jazz acts that embrace various styles of yesteryear while adding what they view as the best elements of modern music.
That makes the title of the L.A.-based group’s debut album, “Jazz in the Present Tense,” something of a misnomer. While rap, hip-hop and reggae are integral to the Solsonics’ very eclectic sound, the overriding impression it creates is of a return to the stylings of such ‘70s jazz and funk hit-makers as Grover Washington, the Average White Band, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder and, especially, War.
The album, while sounding fresh and inspired in parts, is also awash with such ‘70s hallmarks as wah-wah guitar rhythms, deep funk grooves and keyboard programs that evoke electric piano.
“This isn’t a deliberate attempt at being retro,” said Colin, 30. “What we have done is deliberately not include any modern keyboard or drum sounds. We don’t have that slick, produced R & B sound.
“The L.A. flavor is definitely there; we’re very much influenced by the Latin sounds of Los Angeles. War was a fantastic band, which was very much associated with L.A. Their sound included soul, R & B and a very heavy Latin influence. So yes, there’s definitely a War influence on the group.”
The members of the Solsonics are as varied as the music they make. An international, interracial and gender group whose ages range from 19 to 31 years old, they grew up with disparate music1634476130burgeoning, if curiously named, acid-jazz scene.
The group, together for just two years, was signed directly to a major label (Chrysalis Records) without first having to pay its dues on an independent label--a fact that Colin is proud of.
Too, Colin is something of a crusader for the music he believes in, determined to expose young people to not only his own group, but the jazz men of years gone by.
“Jazz has been around a long time, but what happened in the ‘70s and ‘80s is that jazz kind of turned into a four-letter word,” he said. “One of the reasons that happened is because people would influence the production of the music purely for the way it sounded. That’s the way fusion developed, and it became a very self-indulgent form of music. It wasn’t very soulful.
“What this music is doing, and even some hip-hop acts are doing, is bringing jazz back to the forefront. It’s making jazz a cool thing again, whereas for the longest time, jazz had lost it’s acceptance with youth. But it’s become hip to be into jazz again--that whole sensibility, that whole West Coast-cool thing. It’s becoming a desirable fashion statement.
“A lot of records by, like Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones, have been sampled (on computer by hip-hop acts) over the last few years. That exposes it to a younger generation that really hasn’t heard it before. Things go in cycles, and what I think we’re seeing right now is a return to good, live music that’s organic and can be re-created live, onstage, without sequencers or anything like that.”
Colin is also pleased that the Solsonics’ efforts have received support from some of the groups’ heroes.
“Herbie Hancock came down and played with the band last New Year’s Eve,” he recalled. “Poncho Sanchez has played with the band. Verdine White from Earth, Wind & Fire came down and sat in one time. . . . So nobody’s turning their back on us.”
* The Solsonics and Strangefruit appear tonight at 8 at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano. $10. (714) 496-8930.