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  • Jonathan Widran

KEITH ANDREW, Soul Expedition

While many funked out, high energy contemporary urban jazz artists use song and album titles reflecting the concept of adventure, globetrotting, Bay Area guitarist Keith Andrew is the real deal, a deeply committed cultural explorer whose passion for exotic sounds, crisp fluid melodies and pushing the boundaries of the groove have driven his solo career for over 15 years.

On the playful, gritty and spirited Soul Expedition, his first album in six years, Andrew, he creates the perfect sequel to his likewise (mostly) stylistically eclectic, high energy 2014 collection Adventurous Soul. Vibing with genre stalwarts Nils (who penned the wildly infectious single “It’s a Party” and the cool down ballad “Take It Slow”), Johnny Britt, Chris Standring, Blake Aaron, Greg Vail, Darryl Williams and others, he creates a freewheeling journey full of playfully jangling bursts of in the pocket funk/soul (“Soul Expedition,” “Squirley”), sly excursions into blues and Latin music (sometimes at the same time, as on “Cielo,” his whimsical jam with Standring) and even a punchy, horn fired two-fisted tribute to NOLA via “New Orleans Bump” and “Who Dat, Where You At?” featuring vocalist/saxophonist Darryl F. Walker.

Not that a set fueled by Nils-penned joints and Andrew’s own dynamic songwriting skills needs them, but it’s a blast hearing Andrew and Co. take Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” (in medley with “Funky Good Time” to transcendent anthem-like singalong levels and wonderful hearing Johnny Britt’s beautiful lead vocals and trumpet on Jimi Hendrix’s mystical and romantic “Little Wing.” One of the song titles says it all about Soul Expedition – It’s a Party!

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