Disaster Relief grew out of weekly jam sessions in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The band got together with the goal of writing and recording one new song every week. Eventually, they had an album’s worth of tracks, which they recently dropped. It’s called Disaster Relief because the music is designed to save us from disaster.
The band is made up of Brennan Andes (bass), Rob Avsharian (drums), Dan Bennett (baritone sax), Tim Haldeman (tenor sax), Ross Huff (trumpet), Darrin James (guitar, organ), and Molly Jones (tenor sax). Their sound encompasses funk, jazz-funk, Afro-beat, and soul-jazz.
With nine tracks of funkified, upbeat instrumental music, Disaster Relief runs the gamut from Memphis soul music to James Brown-flavored funk.
The best songs on the album include the opening track, “Downtown F#@karound,” a funky jazz number with braying horns backing up the neighing saxophones. “Dorian DeLorian” features a pulsing groove, along with a quavering organ that shimmers with surging energy. This is delicious soul-funk, innovative and brisk. And the sax positively rips it up.
“September Skunk” opens with discordant layers of horns drifting and oozing until the syncopated beat enters and the tune takes off on a funked-out journey. The tight horns dominate as the organ quails in the background. Tremolo guitars set the stage for “October, Who’s Sober?” There’s a definite James Brown relish to this tune. The horns squeeze out raucous, funky colors tiered one over the other, a sonic mishmash of tones lumped together in a bubbling cauldron of pure funkiness.
If you’re into buoyant funk riddled with soul and jazz aromas, then Disaster Relief is where the trends intersect. There’s nothing sterile about this music; this is all-out funk played with fervent passion and oodles of sonic heat.