Latter-day masters

By Mark Grabowski

Music collectives seem to be all the rage these days. A collective is a group of like-minded musicians (in the form of bands) who have gotten together to spread their take on noise making– usually by forming their own record label. Sure, many of the bands of the collective can start to sound alike (the Elephant 6 Collective is made up of bands like the Apples In Stereo and Beulah, all seemingly dedicated to returning our world to the LSD’d late-60s), but remember, there’s strength in numbers (most of the time).
Carlos Washington and Giant People are on the New Century Soul Records label– an eclectic collective seemingly dedicated to enriching our daily lives through exposure to large doses of– you guessed it– soul music.
Washington’s group doesn’t exactly fit the mental picture most people have of soul music– James Brown, the Motown Sound, etc.– their roots are in another version of soul: soul-jazz. Created in the late 60s, soul-jazz relies on fluid bass-lines that skate over the backbeat, emphasizing the groove of a piece. Roy Ayers is a fine representative artist of this type of music; his work was seminal in creating acid-jazz, a new style in the late 1980s and ‘90s– percussive-heavy groove-emphasized jazz.
Washington is a former member of Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe (Karl Denson is in turn a former member of the Greyboy Allstars, one of the better known acid-jazz groups), who went solo to form his own group, Giant People. Washington is the bandleader as well as the trumpet player (expect lots of flamboyant trumpet solos); John Staten is on the drums; Ignacio Arango plays electric bass and guitar; and Jessee Molloy is on the tenor sax.
Their music is a mix of soul-jazz and acid-jazz, with some world music thrown in, and although they also declare hip-hop another element of their sound, I couldn’t really hear it. What I do hear is jammy, danceable jazz music performed by clearly talented musicians.
Several tracks from their new album are available on, and I recommend checking them out if you have the means. Their newest album, Epic Soul Music (a humorous title, think of a rock band calling an album Fantastic Rock!), will probably figure big when they play at the Outback Lodge on June 1.
My head is presently in uncontrolled bop mode thanks to the track “Freedom Condition 2000.” As I can feel the bop moving to my feet, and the need to dance is steadily increasing, I gotta switch off Carlos Washington and Giant People before something really embarrassing occurs. I’ll just save that for the show.

Carlos Washington and Giant People perform at Outback Lodge, June 1. $5, 8pm.