The Maple Leaf Bar
January 22, 2005
In the middle of the set, the number of people in the room dropped from twenty to ten. In The Maple Leaf's rectangular performance hall, ten spread out looked like nothing. After Soul Project's previous song, nobody even clapped. That was cold. I started to clap, but then I just got depressed about the rest of the concert and sat down on a side bench. I put my head down and my arms between my legs as the Soul/Funk/R&B band began the next song. I looked up at Soul Project and felt proud of them for visibly, at least, keeping their composure during the small exodus. There was some pity in there, too, beause I wasn't impressed with their music. Well-executed? Yes. Special? No. Then, a crowd started rolling in--slowly but surely until about fifty people heard Soul Project finish their set. The funny thing was that my disappointment with Soul Project's music disappeared as more and more people entered. Did the amount of people in the room change my view, or did the band step up their performance? Either way, the band got on a roll. Every song from there on out was enjoyable, not average like before.
Soul Project fixed a few problems I had with the music once people started arriving. First, the drummer, like many jam/funk drummers, was playing with a limp wrist, but he began striking the snare with gusto. There needed to be room for the intricacies of the guitar, trombone, and trumpet, but more importantly, there needed to be a snap solid rhythm base. Second, during jazzy interludes, lead singer Christian was taking solos that weren't strong enough to keep the song afloat. The trumpeter somehow got the hint to play a complentary solo with Christian. Third, it's possible Soul Project was looking for a subtler, softer sound at the beginning, but once the guitar, horns, and bass started playing the same lines, the music got beautifully heavy. The groove got stronger.
Once the crowd got into it, even Soul Project's instrumentals, their achilles heel previously, started working. The songs were arranged well.
Christian's voice went well with Soul Project's more romantic, soulful songs, and his wah-wah playing was the band's defining aspect. The trumpet and trombone player's contributions weren't anything to shout about, but the two musicians got the job done.