'Steady Groovin' is a retrospective of select funky moments. Special Guests included Fred Wesley & Black Thought from the Roots. Blue Note. 2005.
Although not clearly stated in the title, this is a compilation of the soul-jazz-funk-jam band's songs aimed primarily at those new their sound. The album highlights Soulives
more upbeat improv tendencies and their genre-stretching abilities. Comprised only of drums, guitar and keyboards (bass is handled by pedals from Hammond B-3 man Neil Evans), the threesome gets a lot of sound out of its relatively stripped down format. Crisp and tight, the approach finds common ground between Booker T. & the MGs
' crackling R&B instrumentals, Medeski, Martin and Wood
s more experimental acid jazz and even Brian Augers Jimmy Smith based vibe. The programming features the bands buoyant nature, especially on the Fred Wesley dominated "Doin Something," and the live tracks. Expanding into hip-hop with The Roots
' (Black Thought rapping on "Clap"), the group stumbles slightly from an all-instrumental M.O. but shows an impressive willingness to broaden their horizons. A cover of Stevie Wonders "Golden Lady" from a Japanese release is the discs one rarity and probably isnt enough to entice established fans. As Soulives final release on Blue Note, Steady Groovin
works best as an overview as opposed to a straight hits collection/contract fulfiller, and is an excellent place for those unfamiliar with the group to hop on board. --Hal Horowitz