Release Date: October 2007
ROAD sound like Massive Attack going on a trip to brazil and Africa, taking with them the soul of Terry Callier and the raw funk of Gorillaz.
Most roads lead somewhere. Whatever the destination, the great majority in London tend to be rather stressful, hurried and inorganic places. This is what immediately sets the musicians of ROAD apart.
Paul Gunter, Mike Benn and D. “Boo” Gallagher, recorded their debut album blessed by several strong vocals from the likes of Terry Callier, Earl Zinger (2 banks of 4), Valerie Etienne (Galliano, Kylie & Jamiroquai), Lucy Jules (Brand New Heavies, George Michael & Beverly Knight), Rosina Kazi (Lal), Elliot May (Basement Jaxx), Lorna Brown (Terry Callier), Jeanine levy and Will Mathews (Lo-finger & Rub Ultra), and the result is an infectious, fresh debut album.
“With the name ‘ROAD’, we just wanted something short, to the point but slightly open-ended,” says Paul Gunter, an experienced drummer/percussionist who has toured Europe and Japan with legendary folk jazz singer Terry Callier, conquered the world with acclaimed performance company Stomp. “People can create their own journey or perceptions linked to whatever they think the music is. That’s important.”
Listen to the almost spiritual mantra of vocalist Rosina Kazi breathing over the highlife guitar line and bass of ‘We Are’ (“Hope is the root of ourselves/We are here, there, everywhere/We are sunlight”) and you swiftly begin to sense where this three-piece is coming from.
That is not to say that their sound, all mellifluous ‘Latinised’, afro-percussive movements, is contrived in any way. “The real strong motivation right from the start was to not do anything for the sake of chasing a place in the market,” says Mikey Benn, a seasoned producer who plays keyboards, bass and melodica and has previously worked with Beth Orton, Bebel Gilberto and Terry Callier, as well as writing and producing numerous film and TV scores. “We wanted to do something that we enjoyed, to create something that people could dance to…but in a less obvious way.”
This sentiment is echoed, by the rhythmic driving force of the group, former Galliano player and Stomp alumnus D. “Boo” Gallagher. “The organic way in which our very first Acid Jazz label recording came about is strongly reminiscent of how ROAD works today. We never really have a specific thing in mind or audience to sell to.”
As a writer, D. draws on his love of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian music, particularly legendary percussionist Airto Moreira, a man he admires as much for his non-conformist attitude as his playing.
ROAD has two storming gigs under their belt: a coming-of-age performance at the breeding ground of talent that is the Jazzfly in Earl’s Court, London and an eye-catching turn supporting Callier at the Jazz Café.
Live they perform as a seven-piece band (with three singers fronting the experience), or with a scaled down unplugged version for smaller venues. They are ready for full-scale assault on the festival circuit in 2007. ROAD are, in time-honoured tradition, bringing it to you live. Subtle, sophisticated and simple songs never sounded so effortless.