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Album Review

If you miss the sounds of the Meters, of vintage Northern soul, of James Brown, of 1960s jazz-funk, and of Hammond organ jazz by the likes of Jimmy Smith, and if you wish you could hear all of them at the same time, then you're sure to get a kick out of this Leeds-based quartet. To call the New Mastersounds "old school" doesn't quite do justice to their simultaneously backward-looking and forward-pushing sound, which fans of modern bands like the Charlie Hunter Quartet and Medeski, Martin & Wood will recognize immediately — but so will those who cut their teeth on Jack McDuff and Lou Donaldson records. When guest vocalist Dionne Charles comes in (especially on the barnburning "Looking for an Answer"), the result is like an unholy cross between James Brown and Aretha Franklin; when the band slips into Afro-beat mode on "Kuna Matata" (featuring singer Troy Tuscan), the result is, strangely, more like a cross between Fela Kuti and Barry White.


Formed: 1999 in Leeds, England

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s, '10s

One of the cornerstone acts of the U.K. retro-soul scene, the New Mastersounds play taut, old-school instrumental funk with a contemporary energy and an enthusiasm that has earned them rave reviews and led them to collaborate with a number of major acts in Britain and the United States. The New Mastersounds were formed in 1999 by guitarist Eddie Roberts, who was DJ'ing at a weekly club night in Leeds devoted to classic soul and funk. When the event moved to a new venue that covered two floors, Roberts...
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