Poised and polished, Santa Barbara unfolds with an ease and elegance rare amongst even seasoned veterans. Drawing from a broad base, Santa Barbara nods to R&B, disco, jazz, soul, Latin, and, well, funk. Nothing feels contrived; these myriad modalities are stylistic colors in their compositional palette. Gilding above and grooving in-between it all is the records’ keystone; the velvet, dynamic voice of Yanick Allwood.
Before After Funk, Allwood (who also plays keys), drummer Jaime Rosenberg, guitarist Phil Tessis, and bassist Justin Bontje lived parallel lives steeped in music. Their paths first crossed at the University of Western Ontario. In 2014 they released a self-titled EP and hit the road. Word of their electric live show started to spread, and soon the band was playing alongside Snarky Puppy, Lettuce and more, and gracing the stage at major festivals such as Electric Forest, Harvest Jazz & Blues, and Evolve in Canada.
In 2015 the band released the ‘Til The Sun Comes Up' EP, followed by 2017’s FREAK single. In early 2018 After Funk completed their first coast to coast tour of North America. The bulk of Santa Barbara was written, rehearsed, and workshopped in the band’s house on Santa Barbara Road in Toronto.
In addition to the core quartet, the record features performances by: vocalists Kyla Charter (Alessia Cara, July Talk), Stacey Kay, and James Bailey (July Talk), bass clarinetist Jacob Gorzhaltsan (Jack Dejohnette), tenor saxophonist Julian Nalli (Fred Penner), trumpeter Tom Moffett (BadBadNotGood, Arkells), flautist and alto saxophonist Rob Christian, and Cuban percussionist Rosendo “Chendy” Leon (Sultans of String). The record was produced by Jeff Hazin (Yoko Gold) and mixed by Gabe Gallucci (Shawn Mendes).
An imminently engaging, fully-wrought record that takes the listener by the hand and sprints off into a heady journey, Santa Barbara is nuanced, articulate, and profoundly satisfying.