In an age when parties are started by pressing “play” on a MacBook, and partygoers are more often glued to their smartphones than to each other, House of Soul is remixing the concept of a dance party, playing pulsating music like a DJ would – but with real instruments – to create a personal and intimate approach to making a crowd sweat.
In live shows, the six-piece House of Soul takes a cue on keeping a party going from dance DJs and go go bands by weaving improvised grooves, "remixes" of classic selections, and original tunes into non-stop, thumping sets for an uninterrupted experience of grooviness – turning listeners into dancers and making the dancers the seventh band member. The album title, “Let’s Move,” reflects the band’s mantra of fostering free expression, uninhibited movement and community.
House of Soul is the brainchild of veteran bassist and bandleader Matt Grason. His 20-year music career portrays diverse tastes and interests, playing with indie klezmer mavens One Ring Zero, Virginia rockers Carbon Leaf, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the genre-bending Miscellaneous Flux, hard-hitting jazz pianist Eric Lewis, and folker Robbie Schaeffer (Eddie from Ohio). After earning a Master’s degree in jazz performance at Manhattan School of Music in 2003, Grason engrained himself in the DC jazz scene, freelancing and leading his own jazz quintet. Capitalizing on his love of hip hop, Grason created the Motel project in 2007, bringing a NYC jazz-fusion quintet together with DC’s most talented freestyle MCs. With Motel, Grason produced his first commercial CD release, “Lost and Found.”
By then, Grason had developed an appreciation for DC’s dance music and the DJ scene. Seeing the inspiration DJs brought to dark, humid rooms of dancers, Grason envisioned creating an even more intense music experience for listeners and dancers by bringing recorded tracks to life. He assembled top-shelf jazz talent and crafted a band that can play just about anything – but uses the timing of a veteran DJ to hit the crowd at just the right moment to elevate everyone’s experience.
The band’s debut release is Grason’s second album as producer. He shares the writing cred with other band members, most notably with vocalist Rochelle Rice -- who penned the lyrics for the wild and funky “Push It” as well as the smooth and jazzy “Forever be Free.” The album’s second track, “Choices,” penned by fellow MSM alum and Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition winner saxophonist Jon Irabagon, is reminiscent of Jamiroquai with Amel Larrieux’s voice.
Put it on. Turn it up. Let’s move.