01 02 03 The Jazz Word: Hard Proof, Stinger 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Hard Proof, Stinger

by Nolan DeBuke

Hard Proof is a firmly fused band that integrates African rhythms laced with rock, jazz and deep funk adventures into their sound.  Austin, Texas based, this ten-piece collective began by studying the blueprint of Fela Kuti's Africa 70 band, as well as Funk and Jazz, what makes this even more unique is they are a totally southern based American musicians, yet eloquently capture the sub-Saharan vibe with authenticity.

Stinger picks up right where their last album Public Hi-Fi Sessions left off, yet continuing to take the sound to the next level at the same time.  The title track sets the listener up for what is to come.  A hard-hitting aggressive genre-bending jam that features low notes from baritone sax, and a cutting rhythm section that drives the record with hard grooves and deeply underpinned funk.

"Men of Trouble," offers a funky flute solo followed up by a searing guitar solo to contrast the textual differences between the instruments.  The song transverses thorough various feels, beats and the ever present ambient of wah, wah drives it through a soulful experience throughout.

"Trickle Down" is a nice transitional tune, that settles the moment and builds into a rock guitar solo fueled by Afrobeats and a mighty horn section that groove together like a prayer meeting.

It was the tune "Lots" that best shows Hard Proof's Afro-Funk chops with awe-inspiring syncopation and brilliance.  Danceable rhythms are non-stop, and get your "bood" moving to the grooving.

How does one describe Hard Proof, almost like a stew that features a dapple of
Antibalas, Bixiga 70, a chunk of Snarky Puppy, a dash of Ikebe Shakedown, and the rhythms of The Funk Ark, and this will give you your entree to Hard Proof!

Track Listing: Stinger; Men Of Trouble; A.R.A.S.; Incendiary; Trickle Down; Boss; War Gin; Lots; Soul Thing.

Personnel: Aaron Sleator: guitar; Derek Phelps: trumpet; Gerardo Larios: guitar, keyboard; Jason Frey: tenor saxophone; Joe Sokolik: bass; John Branch: guitar, keyboards; Joseph Woullard: baritone saxophone, flute; Stephen Bidwell: drums, percussion; Tony Cruz: congas; Tommy Spampinato: percussion.
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