On The Commotions: Volume 3, the 12-piece Ottawa-based band expands substantially on their ‘soulicious’ blend of jazz and Motown. From the funk-fuelled lead single and opening track, ‘Feel The Commotion,’ through to album closer, ‘You Complete Me’ (a song intended as a love letter to their growing audience), the album plays out like the band’s high energy live shows, with The Commotions unleashing an even bigger, funkier sound and throwing the doors open to greater collaboration within the band and with some very heavy-hitting arrangers.
On Volume 3, the approach is “Go big or go home,” says bandleader/tenor saxophonist Brian Asselin, an ethic he shares with each of his fellow Commotions: vocalists Rebecca Noelle, Jeff Rogers, and Mackenzie Di Millo, fellow horn players Mike Lett (Tenor Saxophone), Caelan Roberge-Toll (Bari Saxophone), Trumpet players Ed Lister and Eric Littlewood, as well as drummer Jeff Asselin, bassist Ken Seeley, keyboardist, Deniz Lim-Sersan and guitarist David Gaw.
That comes across loud and clear on every track on Volume 3, with the band mining a familiar vein of funk, jazz-inspired soul but stepping out collectively and individually in a way that’s entirely fresh yet refreshingly old-school.
On every track, there’s an intentional musical or lyrical flex. “We really opened up the floodgates in terms of songwriting,” Asselin says. “All the songs are co-writes with someone in the band or outside it," including co-producer Alex Mastronardi, vocalists Noelle, Rogers, and Di Millo, and songwriters Matthew Chaffey and Ron Weiss.
Volume 3 also features guest arrangers Mark Ferguson (Manteca), Dave Eskridge (Tower of Power), Philip Lassiter (Prince), and Michael B. Nelson (Cory Wong, Prince), with whom Asselin either collaborated (on songs like ‘Nothing But You’) or invited to provide their own arrangements, such as Ferguson’s work on the standout ballad, ‘Where Does The Love Go?’
That ‘go big or go home’ mentality has always been a hallmark of The Commotions’ records; on both their debut, Let Me See You Dance as Delbert and The Commotions, and 2017’s Volume II, which Asselin describes as a rebirth, owing to the addition of multiple local lead singers and a name change to The Commotions.