SOULIVE performing as part of the Mod Club with DJs MARK HOLMES and BoBBI GUY at Lava (507 College), Wednesday (May 2). $8. 416-966-5282. Rating: NNNNN
At first glance, Soulive's organ, guitar and drums instrumentation seems to be the classic jazz organ combo set-up that Hammond heavyweight Jimmy Smith helped define during his mid-50s peak at Blue Note.
While Soulive's swinging Doin' Somethin' also happens to carry the Blue Note stamp, the breakbeat-backed melodicism that brothers Alan and Neal Evans dish out with guitar-stroking pal Eric Krasno bears little resemblance to the churchy grind of Smith and his acolytes.
In fact, the Soulive sound -- which favours the groove over solos -- has more in common with the funky flow of the Greyboy Allstars, with whom Soulive's 26-year-old drummer, Alan Evans, honed his beat-bashing.
"Whenever I hear somebody say, "You guys sound just like Jimmy Smith,'" snorts Evans before a Manhattan date, "I know they haven't got any idea what we're about. The whole concept is completely different.
"There's definitely an improvisational aspect to what we do, but we're more of a funk band. We don't play traditional jazz clubs, and our audience is split between dance club cats, hiphop headz, college types and the people from the jam band scene."
The club and hiphop crossover appeal of the Soulive vibe is understandable. It's even possible to see how they might connect with the Mod Club crowd, since they clearly have some Peddlers-style Flamingo Club flava going on. But it's a bit baffling how this tie-dye-fearing crew ever got the jam band hookup.
"Yeah," chuckles Evans, "that is kinda strange. From the time we started playing, I can remember seeing people taping our shows. My guess is that those tapes made it into some trading network and found their way into the hands of the jam band people.
"That must be how it happened. I certainly don't recall ever hearing about any Phish endorsement."