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The Graham Album Review #2138

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Euforquestra: While We Still Got Time

(Independent Records, as broadcast on WVIA-FM 11/23/2022)

While Americana music, borrowing from folk, blues and country traditions can be a source of profound enjoyment, some international influence can add a little sonic spice that can make things more interesting or danceable. This week we have an all-American band that originated in Iowa, who brings some African pop into their sound that is also imbued with soul, funk and straight out rock. The group is called Euforquesrta, a contraction of “euphoria” and “orchestra.” Their new release is called While We Still Got Time.

Euforquestra has been together for nearly 20 years, and after forming in Iowa, they have been based in Colorado for about a decade now. Their 2006 debut album was called Explorations in Afrobeat, in which they drew on the influence of Afrobeat originator Fela Kuti. Their website describes them as “modern funk and roots with vintage soul.” It’s a fairly large group with six regular members, but they frequently have guests on their new release, they sometimes tour with them. The group’s sound is strong on the horns, with saxophonist and vocalist Austin Zalentel on the front line with guitarist Mike Tallman. Other members include Matthew Wright on keyboards, Otis Lande on bass and Jeff Peterson on drums, along with trumpeter Matt Bricker, who does not appear on the new release but is listed as a member on their web biography. Other contributors on the album include trumpet player Gabriel Marvine, vocalist Kim Dawson, and trombonist Scott Flynn.

They serve up an eclectic mix of funk, Afro-beat, and jam band influence to make for an album that has a lot going for it. Their Afro-beat influence was reinforced by the group’s journey to Democratic Republic of Congo, and on the new album they cover a tune by the great Congolese musician Papa Wemba.

Opening is a track that sums up the band’s sound, Arizona to Georgia with a strong rock funk beat, but with the arrangements evoking both James Brown and Fela Kuti. <<>>

Giving It All brings in some reggae and ska influence for a great, danceable track but with a little rhythmic twist, skipping a beat here and there. <<>>

The cover of a the Papa Wemba tune is Show Me the Way which brings in the sort of Latin influenced rumba beat that is part of Papa Wemba’s soukous style. <<>>

The retro rock and soul facet of Euforquestra is represented by the track Move the Earth which is a kind of love song, of which there are not a lot on this album. <<>>---

One of the highlights of the record is a further departure for the group, in what is more or less the title track, Still Got Time shows some African American Gospel and spiritual influence, in a plea for people to get along. <<>>

Euforquestra would seem a natural as a jam band, but their album has mostly tightly structured three and four minute tunes. However, a track called Higher, gives the band a chance to stretch out and bring in their African-influenced soul-funk sound in a great groove. <<>>

Another one of the album’s strongest tracks is called Satisfied a kind of spacey funk mix with lyrics appropriate getting down and funky. <<>>

The album ends with the band’s classic soul side. Hands on the Wheel recalls the Motown sound. <<>>

While We Still Got Time, the new album by the Colorado-based band Euforquestra is great mix of danceable styles, including funk, classic soul and Afro-beat, served up in an eclectic collection of songs that varies in style from one track to the next, is but marked by solid writing, tight musicianship and creative arranging. The prominence of the horns in the band adds a lot to their sound, and provides the bridge between the funk and Afro-beat sounds. The one thing I wish for, would have there been more opportunities for jams on the album, with most of the tracks being quite succinct.

Our grade for sound quality is about a B+, with excessive volume compression and some of the horns and vocals sounding over-driven, which adds to the loss of clarity. Otherwise, the mix keeps everything in the right proportions.

The transatlantic fusion of American soul, and funk with Afrobeat influence is a winning combination on this engaging album by Euforquestra.

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This page last updated November 27, 2022