Bahama Soul Club is a project by producer and percussionist Oliver Belz. Oliver lives in Braunschweig, the musical silicon valley of Germany. Groups like Dancing Fantasy, Blue Knights, Jazzkantine, D-Phunk, Bahama Soul Club and many more have their origin in this German city.
Oliver started the project in 2008 with the album Rhythm Is What Makes Jazz Jazz. He returned in 2010 with Bossa Nova Just Smells Funky, added in 2013 Bossa Nova Just Smells Funky Remixed and followed in 2013 with The Cuban Tapes.
November 2016 sees the new edition with Havana '58. All tracks are written and performed by Oliver and keyboardist André Neundorf. Additional musicians on selected tracks are Ralli King (guitar), York (sax), Thomas Wolter (orchestra), Lars Lehmann and Helge Preuss (bass). The group describes their style as Afro-Cuban jazz, but with the original style of the fifties and sixties their music has at best in common just the inspiration. It is a groundbreaking conglomerate of bossa nova, rumba, jazz and much, very much modern beat.
The title of the starting track Something Unique perfectly describes the magic sound of retro-organ, flute, piano, and glorifying lap steel guitar. All together into a dense cocoon, and the dreamy music rises like a wonderful butterfly. The evident affinity for Cuban music is also reflected on No Words featuring American jazz and soul singer Brenda Boykin. The idea behind this song is intensively visualized in the trailer of breath-taking pictures of the film “I Am Cuba”, directed in 1964 by Mikhail Kalatozov.
Meyer Lansky known as the "Mob's Accountant", was a major organized crime figure of the 20th century. The piece captures the mysterious aura of this high criminal and his mundane decadent environment. Casino De Capri was the place to go under the egis of president Fulgencio Batista, known as one the nicest mob and celebrity hang-outs in Havana. The band sums up the elegance and decadence of this heinous place.
Muévelo Papi (Move Papi) splashes of joy and the messenger is Cuban singer Olvido Ruiz, who is residing in Germany and has already absolved a fantastic race of career. She is also the voice of the Bahama Soul Club Liveband. Rumba Fugaz is presented by Cuban singer Arema Arega, who was discovered by Gilles Peterson for the well-respected "Havana Cultura" project. She too knows how to portray the lively style of the island with her sinful voice.
Olvido Ruiz shows another aspect of her omnipresent vocals on the dark ballad Let God. On the shuffling swing Dizzy's Bounce Brenda Boykin delivers a swaggering Scat song bridging the gap between the 50's and contemporary fashionable jazz. Eleggua is a figure of the Yoruba religion of the Yoruba people, a choral piece performed by the vocal quartet Sexto Sentido grounded on a modern rhythm.
That's Why I Said builds itself from a single sentence and develops into a relaxed interlude. Call it Disco music, call it Funk. Tropicana Flight is pure entertainment featuring again Cuba's finest export, the vocal quartet Sexto Sentido. This sound has indeed ants in the pants.
With an incredible erotic charisma and an all enchanting rumba Cuban siren Olvido Ruiz lures us into the Night Breeze. Finally we are caught Under The Mojito Moon. No better way to describe this musical limbo between dreaming and sociable bohemian.
Bahama Soul Club's new album Havana '58 is the musical spectral analysis of a bygone era. Beyond a stylistic definition is this project rhythmic adrenaline at the highest level. Better than a drug you get the extra kick by listening this album over and over again.