Soul Project, The Long Hustle (Soul Universal Productions)

Aptly named The Long Hustle, this second album from Soul Project comes four long hustling years after their critically acclaimed first album, Music for Movers & Shakers. In that time they’ve become a fixture on Frenchmen Street at the Blue Nile and Cafe Negril and have become known for their high-energy shows and tight ensemble.

reviews-soulproject-the-long-hustle-front-coverFor The Long Hustle they’ve mixed elements of jazz, funk, soul, blues, reggae and gospel to create an album with many facets under a cohesive groove. It starts with the Wolfman-esque “What We Got,” which pulls an interesting sleight of hand when it morphs briefly into a traditional brass band segment near the end. There are a couple fun takes on familiar tunes such as a reggae “Down by the Riverside” with rap verses and a funky version of The Beatles’ “Blackbird” with a second line rhythm in the midst of things. Jon Cristian Duque, lead vocalist and guitarist, seems to have done most of the savvy, genre-conscious arranging. It’s unclear which tunes are originals. It would have been nice to have song credits listed, but I know for sure that saxophonist David Ludman composed the funk-fusion “Blue Snail” and keyboardist Jeremy Habegger composed the album’s live slow-burn closer “Gsus.”

All in all it’s a solid, well-produced album from a really tight band.

—Stacey Leigh Bridewell