Self-titled debut album from The Olympians in stores today, 10/28

If you like vintage soul, R&B, and funk created by a new generation of musicians, Daptone Records has been the place to look for it. The label, which may be best known for jump-starting the career of soul belter Sharon Jones, has released lots of great music. Their latest, the instrumental funky soul of The Olympians, is out today.

The band includes musicians associated with the label’s house band, the Dap-Kings, and other bands connected to the label. The music features lush instrumental arrangements of strings, harp, vibes, guitar, and a plethora of keyboards, all laced with blazing horns soaring over funky bass and drums.

The story of the band and its music begins with a dream. Multi-instrumentalist Toby Pazner (keyboards, vibes, bass, and percussion) was moved to put the story of the actual Greek gods, whose mythical home was on Mount Olympus, to song.

He enlisted members of the Dap-Kings including trumpeter David Guy (also of the Tonight Show band), drummer Homer Steinweiss, saxophonist (and Daptone Records co-owner) Neal Sugarman, saxophonist Leon Michels, as well as trumpeter Michael Leonhart (the musical director for Steely Dan and David Byrne), trombonist Aaron Johnson of Antibalas and the musical director of the Broadway show Fela!, and drummer and percussionist Evan Pazner.

All of the songs on the album reference the ancient gods, though with apologies to classics geeks everywhere, they use the Roman names of the deities. Some of the songs simply give shouts outs such as “Mars” and “Neptune.” Others evoke other sentiments including “Sirens of Jupiter” and “Pluto’s Lament.”

The Olympians deliver a new sound that is compelling in a way that would have made the ancients proud and will keep dance floors hopping. With cascading harps, violins, and driving horn charts, they have created sumptuous cinematic songs over the tough rhythmic sounds that have become synonymous with the Daptone label.

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