Saturday, February 5, 2011

Review - Efa Etoroma Jr. & The Ruckus Fo'tet: 1-2-3-Fo'

Montreal Drummer Efa Etoroma Jr. kindly sent me a copy of his band's recent EPK and, as a promised, I gave it a listen to present you a sort of review today (sorry it took me so long...)

Efa and his crew (I believe) are all current/former students at McGill University's Jazz program of which I am also an alumni. So it's great to see the high level of students continue to come through that program and always nice to see young musicians taking the initiative with such a project.

Here's a recent bio of the band from their website:

"Originally formed in January 2009 the Ruckus Fo’tet is a Hip Hop ensemble with influences stemming from modern Jazz, Hip-hop, Rock,Funk, and Latin genres. The members of the group met while attending the McGill Schulich School of Music’s Jazz Program in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Performing chiefly original material, the group’s compositions draw influence from artists such as Herbie Hancock, J Dilla, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Although previously known as an instrumental ensemble, the Fo'tet exclusively collaborates with Montreal's esteemed MC Milla Thyme. In Montreal the Fo’tet has a reputation on the live music scene with recent performances at the 2009 Montreal International Jazz Festival, 2010 McGill Nuit Blanche and Open Air Pub events, as well as with performances at notable venues such as Upstairs Jazz Club, L’Absythne, Jupiter Room and Trois Minots.

Known for their soulful originals and deep in-the-pocket grooves, the Fo’tet takes pride in delivering performances that are both groovy and intellectual. The combination of groove, thoughtful arrangements, and Jazz-inflected improvisational elements make the ensemble’s music accessible to anyone from the jazz aficionado to hip-hop lover to rock enthusiast and to the casual music listener. The group’s distinct electro-acoustic sound is cumulated via the combination of acoustic drums, tenor saxophone, electric bass, and electric guitar."

The music presented on this EPK represents an enjoyable approach to a funky backbeat/hip-hop style of contemporary Jazz. Efa is a great young drummer and the influence of such contemporary drummers as Chris Dave and Questlove was obvious from the first few bars. He plays his backbeats and grooves with a lot of discipline and overall musicality and demonstrates a real maturity in an age where many young drummers seem to try and prove themselves with the number of notes they play rather than how they play them.

All the tracks I heard had a nice forward driving vibe without feeling overally aggressive or edgy and all with a certain casual/relaxed and in-the-pocket attitude towards establishing a nice solid groove (in a good way). This is the kind of music I could easily sit, chill out, relax and listen to during a night out.

I was particularly impressed with the recording quality of the tracks they sent. It was obvious that they took great care in the production quality of the recording process and it really shows.

My only potential criticism is that it would have been nice to hear these guys stretch out more with some more open blowing and take more chances within the context of the nice grooves and vibe they clearly establish so well. However, I'm pretty sure I would be pleasantly surprised and satisfied if I had the opportunity to hear this unit live (ie. come to Calgary, please!)

The Ruckus Fo'Tet - "1-2-3-Fo'"


Future Blues


The D

This Is

The Ruckus Fo’tet is comprised of:

Jarryd Torff - Tenor Saxophone

Evan Stewart - Electric Bass

Dave Ison- Electric Guitar

Efa Etoroma, Jr.- Drums and Cymbals

Max Miller- MC

Here is also a nice clip of the Ruckus Fo'tet from a recent performance in Montreal:

For more information about this band you can find them here: www.ruckusgroup.com

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