Text by Franck Cochon
For a band whose passion lies in 60’s soul music, opening a show for Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings is a little bit like hitting some balls with Roger Federer just before the Wimbledon finals: a unique experience that makes you gain many years of learning.
When in 2003 the Shaolin Temple Defenders were able to approach the very core of Brooklyn soul funk music, analyse its structure, go into minute detail in producing the right sound, they used this precious knowledge for everything that was about to come.
A top quality demo in hand, the Defenders had already captured the fundamental elements of the soul music they adored, and proceeded to produce themselves on stage numerous times, working hard on the details of the show, recording on the old magnetic medium and making sure the pure live sound remained key.
Some titles were captured on stage, others in the studio: these are the foundations on which the band from Bordeaux built their first album in 2006, “Chapter One: Enter the Temple”, the first musical recording that exposed their liveliness. But this was still nothing to what was about to happen the following year, when the Shaolin encountered one of James Brown’s most faithful and devoted backup singers, Martha High.
The band offered their fieriness to Martha and wrote her a made to measure repertoire. Brother Lion, the Voice of the Temple, took a step back to take over the artistic direction, only appearing on the mike for a few duets with the Diva. On tour, they opened for Sly and the Family Stone at the Olympia, recorded the live album “Woman” in 2008… these are just a few of the incredible experiences they enjoyed together for some years. Years of jumping up steps, 4 at a time, accumulating as much practice and training they could in order to be as precise as possible.
In 2009, they recorded their second album, a warm gritty groovy “Chapter Two: Gettin’ the Spirit” with Eddie Roberts from The New Mastersounds on production. The sound, the songs, are classic soul tracks, but not for very long… No later than the following year, they opened the doors of the Temple up to hip hop, rock music, latino sounds and string instruments. Take It Slow (2010) determined a much more sophisticated sound and the Defenders distanced themselves from the strict 60’s original vibe. They kept the taste for it, but gave it a twist and opened it to new horizons, such as in From The Inside in 2013 and then Keep this Funk On a Roll in 2014, their first digital EP. This led them to also experiment with a Shaolin Play the Beatles in a Funky Style tour, where they completely revisited the famous Liverpudlian tunes.
In the true spirit of politically-engaged and militant soul music, they continue to hold the protest banner high with their most recent freedom-fighting album Free Your Soul (2017).
Whether it be virtual, political, economical, or religious, the alienation of the human race is the main theme to their fifth album, which was produced in the studio with no stage practice.
It’s vindictive and militant, and once again recorded in the traditional way: everyone together.
To the everlasting satisfaction of their personal needs, which have become a goal as much as a philosophy in life, the Shaolin Temple Defenders oppose their firm rhythms with solid horns, their answer to selfishness lies in a federating soulful music, joining forces with rock and hip hop, where the samples of soul have been present for so long.
The head of guitars, the Preacher, is also in charge of the artistic production and has enabled such sounds as the gospel organ, traces from the Godfather and also from the Motown scene to all melt into the groove. Without ever losing the sense of direction which has been theirs for over fifteen years, a sense of a certain kind of soul music, protected and guarded in a temple, somewhere around Bordeaux.
Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow? Free Your Soul, and the same thing should happen too…
Mickey Fourcade : Drums
Jérémy Ortal : Bass
Pierre Petit a.k.a The Preacherman : Guitar
Cédric Lacaze : Organ and flute
Laure Fréjacques : Trumpet
Vincent Le Fort : Saxophones
Brother Lion : Lead vocals and Tambourine
Henry Rollier : Sound engineer
OLYMPIA BRUNO COQUATRIX – FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL DE JAZZ DE MONTREAL (CAN) – GAROROCK – FESTIVAL PAPILLONS DE NUIT – CRAIG CHARLES FUNK & SOUL SHOW (UK) – FESTIVAL DE MUSICA NEGRA (ESP) – FESTIVAL MUSICALARUE – MERCOGLIANO BLUES (IT) – FESTIVAL BOBITAL – FESTINEUCH’ (SUISSE) – NEW MORNING – BELLEVILOISE – GAITE LYRIQUE – ENGHIEN JAZZ FESTIVAL – FRANCOFOLIES DE LA ROCHELLE – FESTIVAL JAZZ DE PARIS …
‘Clean Up Woman’ (live with Martha High) on – Soul Divas- Wagram Music- 2009
‘W.O.M.A.N’ (live with Martha High) on – Soul Divas: 36 Original Rare Soul Tunes- Wagram Music- 2009
‘International Soul’ on – Soulshaker Vol.6- Records Kick- 2009
‘I Know What It Is’ on – Soulshaker Vol.7- Records Kick- 2010
‘Message To The Soul Sisters’ feat. Dionne Charles & ‘Take It Slow’ feat. Gift Of Gab on – Château Soulbeats- Soulbeats Records- 2011