This eponymously entitled debut recording by Surefire Sweat cleverly mixes different contemporary styles of popular music including Black American and Afro-Cuban and other Caribbean forms into an interconnected rhythmic network that collides at the junction of the drum chair. Other instruments, of course, follow suit smartly forming – by turns – a brazen Second Line with musicians also jumping in to form an energetic, chanting choral backing group. Every once and a while, though, an instrument – the guitar of Peter MacDougall on “Sunshine Interference” for example – steps into the limelight, with an offering of a funky solo that collides with threads of an African hi-life rhythm.
This occasional soloing is also glued together by the funky horns of the burgeoning brass, reeds and woodwind section. Together with the rumble of bass, drums and percussion musicians take turns forming the bedrock of the band as each in turn steps forward to solo while the rest of the ensemble forms a rock-steady wall of sound that makes for an ever-changing canvas of tone and colour. “Rh Factor” appears to dissect the genetics of music and bassist Liam Smith’s rolling solo has a rippling Jazz groove the other members of the band follow, propelled by the drummer that gently create music with a cinematic that eventually launches into a broodingly percussive groove before a loose and funky close.
There is a fine sense of performance in both solo as well as ensemble. The wonderful sense of balance and integration of melody, harmony and rhythm, of composition and improvisation, of exploration – albeit brief – individuality and tradition is refreshing and impressively maintained throughout. Clearly Surefire Sweat has an acute sense of where they stand in musical history, which enables them to make interesting references to traditional forms while continuously innovating melodically and harmonically around the sparkling and venerable rhythms that inform their eloquent music. All of this bodes extremely well for a bright future in music.
Track list – 1: Threshold; 2: For All the Times I Never Came to See You; 3: Sunshine Interference; 4: A Tale of Two Times; 5: Rh Factor; 6: On the Phrynge; 7: Number Nine; 8: Scuffle Strut
Personnel – Larry Graves: drums, percussion, hand claps and vocals; Dave Chan: percussion, hand claps, Hammond organ and vocals; Liam Smith: Bass guitar, Fender Rhodes and vocals; Peter MacDougall: guitar and vocals; Brad Eaton: trumpet; Elena Kapeleris: tenor saxophone and vocals; Rob Neal Christian: flute; Paul Metcalfe: baritone saxophone
Released – 2019
Label – Independent
Runtime – 43:58