Seattle’s High Pulp brilliantly savoring funk, R&B and jazz – Music

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High Pulp is big in size and ready to go big with its latest release.

Kaline Cimone

OOne of Seattle’s biggest groups in terms of personnel is set to go big in a different way, if current trends continue. With frequent shows in the city and a recent live appearance on KEXP, High Pulp is gaining momentum, which should culminate in its record breaking March 7 release show in Neumos.

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The countless limbs of High Pulp interlock with loose limb precision to create a nuanced amalgamation of funk, jazz-fusion and R&B. In local terms, you might think of High Pulp as the slightly smaller, more moderate sibling of Eldridge Gravy & the Court Supreme. Their music might be more suited to the after-party and the seductions you exploit. after after that the party itself. But High Pulp can also rock a dance club. Experience “Midnight Bistro” – an elegant nocturnal electro-funk track that sounds like Mandré and Grover Washington Jr. jamming in a planetarium serving wine – and the spasmodic funk and action scene of “Juiced”.

Four or five years ago, High Pulp emerged from the informal Friday night jams in the Greenwood basement of drummer Rob Granfelt (who also plays in the excellent sinking neo-trip-hop unit). The core of the group now includes Antoine Martel (synths), Rob Homan (keyboards), Andrew Morrill (alto sax), Victory Nguyen (tenor sax), Scott Rixon (bass) and Gehrig Uhles (guitar). With the 2019 Light correction EP, High Pulp added the refined vocals of JusMoni, Shaina Shepherd and Falon Sierra, which add sparkle to the mellow luxury of R&B ballads. Their contributions help Light correction exude a deep carpet-shag seduction.

The flip side of this aesthetic, High Pulp recently tackled three spiritual jazz classics for the Mutual Attraction Vol. 1 EP. It is the beginning of a series in which the group pays tribute to its formative influences. The initial edition includes covers of works by Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders and Sun Ra. High Pulp handles these intoxicating works with aplomb, subtly reinterpreting the touchstones of avant-garde black expression. Talk about setting yourself an intimidating bar… but High Pulp handles the high-flying act with aplomb.

While the freer end of the jazz spectrum is the music that binds the members of High Pulp the most, they also love the music of Miles Davis. Birth of cold Duke Ellington LP and big band material. In addition, they are inspired by, among others, Shabazz Palaces, Jonny Greenwood, Flying Lotus, Frank Ocean, Hans Zimmer and Yes.

High Pulp honed his skills for his next album during a residency of over a year at the Royal Room (where Granfelt works in social media). Every Wednesday night for a few hours they would play tunes and improvise, forming the ideas that would become finished songs. “There is a really fervent creative energy in the band,” Granfelt said in an email interview. “It allows us to keep going back to the drawing board, over and over again, until we decide on something that everyone can approve of.”

With so many people at High Pulp, it must make for an interesting and perhaps convoluted creative process. Do chance and spontaneity play a role? “It’s spontaneity and chance,” said Granfelt. “Songs can come from any angle, at any time. Sometimes things are organic; for example, we can sit down at a rehearsal or a concert, and someone will start to. messing around, and I’ll be like, “Keep playing this! ‘and record a voice memo which I will come back months later and present as an idea to build from. Other times, one of our members can come and rehearse with a complete idea they had for a song with several sections and we go from there.

“Either way, we write as a unit. It doesn’t matter where the idea starts, but by the end it will have gone through our ears and got our cosign. Once everyone agrees that something is done, then it is done. Until then, we keep looking. “

After being a strictly instrumental proposition for years, High Pulp decided to bring in singers last year “to push us in a new way. Just to achieve discomfort, a challenge,” Granfelt explained. “Collaboration is a real central part of High Pulp’s identity. We see ourselves as a collective. We have performed with over 20 different musicians over the years, whether in concert or in the studio, so it was natural to bring singers into the fold.

“It was an opportunity to play less, to leave more space and to be super intentional as a writing unit. We are all taking influence from those Soulquarians releases in the early 2000s, with Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, the Roots, Common … We wanted to see what would happen if we took a step in that direction and tried to get into that headspace. ”

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Henry R. Wright

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