Firstly, you have to be impressed with the sheer coolness of the name Magnum Coltrane Price, but titular monikers do not a record make. A great name might turn heads, but it is the music it is associated with which keeps those heads looking in your direction.
Since his debut single Sarah first saw the light of day in 1990, Price has been a fixture on the Swedish music scene working and playing with a revolving door of iconic names from Lisa Nilson to the Esbjorn Svensson Trio as well as international artists such as Mary J. Blige and Janet Jackson. That’s one hell of a CV to have! And as a long time bassist in Nils Landgren’s Funk Unit his name is closely associated with infectious and groovesome blends of jazzy-funk, but now with his own label and publishing company seeing the light of day, Price is pursuing a path which is centred around releasing his own music.
The bass guitar is essentially the engine room of jazz, soul and funk, acting as the drive shaft between the back beat and the melody, turning momentum into groove, taking the power of the drums and shaping it, moulding it and polishing it into a platform that the front of the music sits on. It is why Price is such an integral part of Funk Unit, and it is what he revels in on Level Up. He is also the master of revision, taking sounds and styles that we are all familiar with and giving them a makeover and presenting them afresh for the modern music fan.
It’s an album that covers a lot of ground even within its own self-imposed generic stamping ground, from TheLights’ brilliant, sultry late night soulful, slow dance to the funky sassy and upbeat addictive strut of Bassics. Between these sonic parameters Price explores bopping bass fuelled boogies on Head Check, the slow disco groove of Whut U Waiting 4 and the soul-jazz smoothness of the title track.
Jazzers will love the arrangements and intricacies
You can approach the album from many directions. Jazzers will love the arrangements and intricacies; soul fans will love the smooth deliveries, funksters the inherent dance vibe. If you like the more traditional sounds, then there is a lot here that reminds you of past glories, and golden age artists and progressives will love the forward-looking direction that the music is heading in. Yes, it takes more than a cool name to keep people engaged, but having moved in the right circles for years, more than paid his dues and chosen the perfect time to demonstrate his own musical voice. Magnum Coltrane Price has created an album which more than stands up for itself.