The New Mastersounds

There are two ways to make records. The relatively new way, one the Beatles often used, is to let every musician track his parts and then mix the whole thing together after the fact. Then there’s the old school approach of setting up your gear and everyone playing together live. In essence, recording a gig with the slight exception that today clams can be easily fixed later via Pro Tools. Both methods have their fans and detractors. Some genres of music, like the organ-driven, small combo funk of The New Mastersounds, just naturally lend themselves to one way of recording. Formed in 1999 by Leeds UK DJ Eddie Roberts who knew how to spin a Northern Soul mix, the band has made 14 records since, a mix of live and studio recordings, often with guest singers like Corinne Bailey Rae, Dionne Charles and Grace Potter. Their specialty is Jimmy Smith/Grant Green styled boogaloo with lots of New Orleans and Muscle Shoals heaped on. For their 15th record, they came off the road and in a single day at the increasingly prominent and analog-inclined Nashville studio, Welcome to 1979, they cut The Nashville Session. Interestingly, the album is a compilation of tracks from their earlier albums, all of which have a similar trait.

“On all our albums, the first track is usually a Meters-esque four piece tune. That’s kind of like a time stamp that we do on every album. So the concept here was like taking the first tracks from all the albums.“

After Roberts on guitar, the instrumental quartet is completed by Joe Tatton on organ, Pete Shand on bass and Simon Allen’s the drummer. According to Roberts, who was reached on his cellphone, “at a truckstop sitting in the sun,” the band’s usual procedure for recording has always been to cut everything live.

“We’ll do like three takes of something and use the best take. And maybe there’s the odd little overdub `cause when you’re writin’ on the fly and then recording straightaway, now and again there will be the odd note out of place, or something like that. But very minimal editing.”

For this record, one in which Roberts says he only had a single “soundscape” to work with, the process had an unusual tweak.

“I mixed it before we recorded it. I worked with each instrument and got the exact sounds that I wanted. I didn’t even want to use more than one keyboard because I wanted to get one sound right and then press `Record.’

“Ideally we like to have it running simultaneously from the multi-track straight onto the one inch, but this time they couldn’t quite set it up that way. We just recorded it and without even touching it, just bounced it as was straight down onto the two track, and then within the same studio, cut it to vinyl a couple of weeks later.”

For a man who cleanses his sonic palate by laying off the funk records in favor of “listening to Coltrane all day,” Roberts and his crew jump in and sustain a irresistible groove throughout, The Nashville Session. It’s no wonder these old pros are favorites at jammy events like the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage and Mountain Jam in upstate New York. One wrinkle with this record is that it’s only available in a limited edition vinyl pressing on the website of up-and-coming Brooklyn independent label, Royal Potato Family (

The record’s only cover, “In The Middle,” which is the band’s arrangement of Grant Green’s arrangement of a James Brown number, is an accurate tracing of the band’s influences.

“We started played it years ago, but just never put it on record. I actually didn’t realize it was a James Brown track. Funny enough, we were at a festival a few years ago and we had Maceo Parker sitting in with us. We were in the back room discussing what tunes we could do and I said we could do this tune, it’s pretty simple and I played it for him. He goes, `Yeah, Pee Wee [Ellis] wrote that.’ And I just kinda thought to myself ` Hmmm, I’m not sure about that.’ Sure enough, when we went to clear the publishing, it said, Alfred Ellis.”

bmoura's picture

You can buy an earlier album - The Hamburg Session by The New Mastersounds - at the Horch House music store.

It's available in Stereo Analog Tape, DSD Wafer Card and WAV Wafer Card in the Jazz category. Recommended for Fusion Jazz fans.