Sultans of String – Move (2011)

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What’s intriguing about Move by Canada’s Sultans of String isn’t so much the dancing violins that skitter here and there, or even the fizzy guitars that seem to weave in and around this globe-trotting tapestry. It’s the way the album, for all of its Spanish flamenco joys, great bossa flourishes and gypsy jazz mystery, does all of that while still swinging like crazy.

They called the project Move for a reason. For all of the many, many sophisticated trappings here — Sultan of String can be as richly diverse as they are deliciously exotic — this thing never lets go of a good, groovy groove. And that adds a lasting allure to what could have been just another bubbling pot of old-world influences. After all, “world music” has had its own section at the local music store for some time now.

The Sultans of String rips those easy cliches to shreds.

Instead, what resonates here is how this group rouses itself for a slap-bass driven gallop through “Andalucia,” then funks its way around “Emerald Swing,” a kitchen-sink jazz song. They burnish “Ernie’s Bounce” with these sun-bursts of greasy R&B, undulate betwixt the itchy romanticism of “To You” then unwind just in time for limber soul of “Return to Lisbon.”

Even when the album finally settles down some, as on their touching rendition of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold,” Sultans of String does so amidst a sensual rumba rhythm. Move is this gloriously bumpy ride.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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