On a recent episode of The Office, Broccoli Rob (played by Stephen Colbert) yells “Why don’t you ask Trey Anastasio about my pipes?” A response is still forthcoming, but while we’re at it, let’s ask him how he has spawned so many amazing duos. The latest is Soule Monde, a band comprised of a couple TABers from the way back: Russ Lawton and Ray hard-to-spell-his-last-name Paczkowski. Their band name sounds like an exotic sex position, but it’s actually Lawton’s middle name combined with the lopped off end of Paczkowski’s first.
Like the Billy Martin and Wil Blades’ release Shimmy, Soule Monde features two locked-in players who start, end and center each other’s musical sentences. Lawton provides reactive, always in the pocket drums, and Paczkowski unearths a repository of moves heretofore only foreshadowed in his work as a sideman. Paczkowski demonstrates a thorough understanding of players like Jimmy McGriff, Art Neville, Jimmy Smith and Herbie Hancock. The grammy-nominated Lawton’s beats and fills push the melodies along a tightrope. Each tune started as an improvisation but was developed into a full composition: a recipe that can lead to some self-indulgent stinkers. But there’s nothing thrown together or haphazard or indulgent about this album. It’s a fully risen soufflé for the body and the mind.