Led by writer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Toby Pazner, the idea of this record came from a background full of soul as well as funk – Daptone Records based in Brooklyn. Home to the Dap-Kings who have recorded with Amy Winehouse and chosen label for musicians such as Charles Bradley, Menahan Street Band and Sharon Jones, their contribution to this genre is unprecedented. Toby took on the task of bringing some of the label’s best and fuse them all onto this instrumental voyage of soul music, releasing ‘The Olympians’ in 2016. The result is an incredible mix of instrumentalism, ranging from flutes to harps, bringing us on a journey through various energies inspired by Greek gods.
Pazner has taken part in a lot of Daptone records, whilst also being the keyboardist to Lee Fields and playing the famous piano part to Aloe Blacc’s “I Need A Dollar”. He decided to orchestrate this project by building a home studio from scratch and was inspired after a trip to the islands of Greece made him vision to tell the stories of ‘The Olympians’ through music. We have all sorts of instruments that pop up in different tracks, “Sirens Of Jupiter” with its saxophones, the flute, “Apollo’s Mood” dangly guitar amongst other string and wind based instruments. Each track contains such intricacy and detail, it’s hard to pinpoint what brings about that sound/feeling, this is a result of Pazner gathering musicians and letting them be. Whilst the musicians all have their shining/improvisation moments across the record, this is the achievement of orchestrating but in a liberal manner, giving air to this project and opening its horizons further as an instrumental album.
Instead of babbling on about the awesome dynamics, funk/soul melodies and much else, this is an album that’s meant to be heard and that’s why it’s hard to get to know more about this project. The whole album is fantastic, it’s a gift to the ears of those who love everything about this genre, knowing the figures behind this record, it’s not hard to understand why we’re captivated by what’s produced. Whilst I recommend listening to it from start to finish, here are some of the tracks that stood out for me and even though this might be a one-time thing, the celebration of the art behind soul music on this album is enough to leave you wanting more.