Natural Selection
Gig Seeker Pro

Natural Selection

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
Band R&B Soul

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

This band hasn't logged any past gigs

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos

Music

Press


By Beth Kaiserman
Collegian Staff Writer:

There will be no classes for the rest of the week because of the Thanksgiving holiday, so don't expect any biology lectures in Happy Valley for the next few days.

But Philadelphia-based band Natural Selection will offer a lesson in the science of soul at 10:30 p.m. Saturday at Zeno's, 100 W. College Ave.

The seven-piece band started performing in State College in September, Jose Perez, the band's manager, said.

This will be its fourth show at Zeno's.

Each time the band plays at Penn State, it seems to attract high-energy audience members, Topaz Wise, background vocalist for the band, said.

"It's more mellow of a crowd in the big cities," Wise said. "The energy is not as high as it is at Penn State."

Korey Riker, music director and saxophone player, defines the genre of music Natural Selection plays as "original soul." The band plays some cover songs, but about 80 percent of its live material is original music, Riker said.

"There's a lot of different stuff in there," Riker said.

Perez said that each show Natural Selection plays is different.

"Some people call it a sort of jam-band style, but [the band] enjoys improvising, and everyone kind of puts their own feel and touch and ideas on the songs," Perez said. "With little things, each show isn't identical. Each time, there's just a little something that's thrown in. [Natural Selection] prefers live music and likes being in the midst of the audience."

Riker said the band will have another performance at Zeno's in January and about one show each month through May.

He also said that the band is interested in playing other concerts at Penn State college functions.

Natural Selection started out in 1997 as a jazz trio and is now a seven-piece band that plays mostly in club-type bars in Philadelphia, Perez said.

One famous venue they have performed in is the Five Spot, where artists such as Jill Scott, India.Arie and Erykah Badu originated. The group has also played at various arts festivals throughout the Philadelphia area.

The band recently took its talents to the studio and recorded an album entitled Come On Over, which is set for release Dec. 2.

"[Live performance] is more personal. I can interact with the musicians, which makes for a better show," Alesia Dessau, lead vocalist, said. "You can't really interact with a track."

Dessau reflected on an experience from Natural Selection's last performance in State College.

"The last time we were [at Zeno's], there was this girl that kept coming up to the microphone," Dessau said. "She was a little annoying, but cool because she was into it."

Natural Selection has played at a few colleges in Philadelphia and is excited to play for the students of Penn State this Saturday.

"To be blunt and honest, it's a long drive from Philly," Riker said. "The fact that the crowd has always been so good makes the trip worth it. We look forward to it every time."

- The Collegian (Penn State)


Alesia Dessau’s sultry vocals and inventive lyrics float effortlessly above tight vocal harmonies, solid rhythmic grooves, and carefully placed melodies. One needs to look no further than Dessau's carefully assembled band to notice the diverse influences involved in Natural Selection’s music. Both drummer Justin Leigh and keyboardist Jeremey Barker are seasoned jazz musicians and bassist Michael Stauss spent years with the Healthy Doses, a prominent improvisational “jam band.” Adding lush harmonic texture and sharing a strong lead voice is Topaz Wise. Music director & saxophonist Korey Riker adds electrifying solos as well as tasteful accompaniment to the groups broad tonality.

Where Natural Selection truly excels, though, is in live performance. The onstage chemistry that exists between all of the band members is infectious, and the adventurous, improvised nature of the music moves any audience. The powerful vocals and the foundation of solid rhythmic communication that define Natural Selection’s sound are magnified by the energy of their live shows.

It’s not surprising that Natural Selection has regular gigs at many of Philadelphia’s top original music venues, and enjoys the presence of a large and loyal following consisting of fans of all styles of music.

Review: - Very much a ‘live’ and real band feel to this, not necessarily the same sounding but in the same mould as say The Chapter or Yamama’nym. Origins as a jazz band so the musicianship and diversity of musicianship is excellent, such as the Cello intro on the first track that really grabs my attention Get Through, a mellow groove, punchy beat against that cello and guitar work and gorgeous vocals of Alesia Dessau.

Come On Over is again driven by the excellent vocals of Alesia which by now I’m getting attuned to and seriously liking, more of a neo structure to this one. Unity is lyrically strong funkier and even a bit of a get up stand up kind of groove. Now You're Gone is a strong moody bluesy ballad and when all said and done possibly one of my favourite cuts.

Fly Away is a mellow funky number. Come Into My Love again illustrates jazz roots and is one of those ballads that when seen in the right environment grabs audiences attentions, quality vocals again.


Tracks: -1. Meant To Be, 2. 10/15/01, 3. Get Through, , 4. Come On Over, 5. Unity, 6. Now You're Gone, 7. Fly Away, 8. Sweet Intruder, 9. Come Into My Love, 10. Make It Easy, 11. Time To Say Goodbye ,
- life and soul promotions


Philadelphia! As vintage movie buff I will always remember W.C. Fields and his quotes about Philadelphia like “Last week, I went to Philadelphia, but it was closed.” or in a conversation with a hangman “Have you any last wish?” - Fields: “Yes, I’d like to see Paris before I die. (pause) Philadelphia will do.”
Musicwise Philly looks like the place to be these days with lots of good musicians. Natural Selection is another fantastic collective of musicians hailing from the city of brotherly love. And a name you should keep in mind!
Alesia Dessau formed Natural Selection in 1996 as a jazz quartet. But by 2006 they have adopted an organic lively soul sound which will certainly appeal to fans of Fertile Ground, Seek, Jazzhole or Sirius B Project.
Altogether eleven musicians participated on this album. Attentive readers of this website will remember Monica McIntyre from the Monica Dillion album All I Have Is A Moment. On Come On Over she appears as cellist and background vocalist. And it’s her cello that grabs your attention on the albums opener Meant To Be, a powerful midtempo soul song. Just like on Monica Dillon’s album I think the cello is a great instrument to give a soul song more depth and that goose pimples feeling. And I wish it could be heard more often in this context.
Naturally Alesia’s impressive voice and songwriting talent have a equal contribution to the greatness of this album. And actually I could praise all eleven songs here, they are all quality stuff with a capital Q. Take Get Through for example, a great soul song with an uplifting message. Now You’re Gone is another winner with its warm instrumentation and Alesia’s emotional vocal input. The beautiful ballad Come Into My Love with its heartfelt lyrics adds further proof that this is simply a must have album for any true soul music fan.
Come On Over is an album I can recommend wholeheartedly and it’s already one of my favourite albums for 2006.
I began this review with W.C. Fields, so why not close it with a quote from him: “All things considered, I’d rather be in Philadelphia.” - Jazz-not-jazz


Q: Natural Selection exists since 1996. Congratulations to your 10th anniversary by the way. Please tell me more about these ten years. Your website says you started as a jazz quartet. What did happen that made you change your sound?

Alesia Dessau: Thank you! I started singing jazz in restaurants for extra money while in college. I had written some songs and started bringing my charts to gigs. The musicians liked my music and that gave me the confidence to share more of my music. We then began to rearrange jazz standards and adding R&B songs such as "Feel Like Makin Love" by Roberta Flack and "Superstar" by Lauryn Hill to the sets. After college, it was hard to keep a band together, so I concentrated on writing songs while looking for new musicians.

Q: How would you describe Natural Selection's music to someone who hasn't heard you before? And who has influenced you in the ten years of existence.

Alesia Dessau: I would describe Natural Selection's sound as "Original Soul". Some of our influences are Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Donny Hathaway, Phyllis Hyman, Incognito, Brand New Heavies and Stevie Wonder. Given the various backgrounds of the musicians of Natural Selection, our sound is truly eclectic. We mix a bit of R&B, funk, rock and hip hop into our sound...and it's always groovin!

Q: How many members are there in the band? You website lists six, Come On Over features eleven musicians and in the liner notes you mention your manager Jose Perez as nineth member. So I'm a little confused about the numbers of band members.

Alesia Dessau: Currently there are six members in Natural Selection. There were eight members at the time of the recording and we had three guest musicians. As for Jose Perez, he helps us out with everything from taking me to my voice lessons to writing songs to handling most of our business relations.

Q: It looks to me like Come On Over is your debut album. How come it took you so long to release an album?

Alesia Dessau: Everything has its season.

Q: I really like the inclusion of Monica McIntyre and her cello. Please tell me how you've teamed up with her and what was it like working with he

Alesia Dessau: I met Monica at the Philadelphonic Jam Session at the Khyber in Philly. She was playing cello and singing. I liked her style and I thought that a cello would enhance our sound. She played with us for about three years.

Q: In songs like Unity you also address political issues. Why do you think it's important for musicians to write about politics as well? And what's your opinion why there aren't so many musicians in the soul genre nowadays that mention political affairs.

Alesia Dessau: I think it's important to write what's on your heart. I don't think of myself as a "political" person but rather a socially conscious one.

Q: Philadelphia is reported to have one of the highest murder and violent crime rate in the USA. Does this affect your everyday life? And does it have an impact on the music scene

Alesia Dessau: It does affect my music. "Get Through" was written about someone close to me that was taken away by senseless violence. It was a way to express myself but also to help someone who listened to it, get over their loss.

Q: Would it be an option for you to sign with a major label? And what do you think of the music business the way the majors handle it these days with releasing copy-protected CDs and mainly investing in one-hit-wonders for example.

Alesia Dessau: If we were offered a good deal, yes. We would reach more listeners and we could reach them faster. We're not pressed, GOD BLESS THE INTERNET!!! It allows us the freedom to not have to be dependent on a major label. Many musicians are doing the "indie" thing these days. It's a business and like any business, you need to be well versed and have an excellent lawyer.

Q: Your website tells us that "Natural Selection truly excels in live performance". What chance do we have in Europe to see you live in the near future

Alesia Dessau: We are working with some contacts in Germany and in the UK to see what we can do about that in the very near future. We are definitely a band for hire, so anyone who is interested in having us play for them is more than welcome to check out our website and contact us. Our website is naturalselectionmusic.com. - Jazz Not Jazz (UK)


Discography

Come On Over released December 2005

Photos

Bio

Natural Selection, the brainchild of Alesia Dessau, has been in it's current incarnation since 2002. As their name suggests, the Philadelphia-based ensemble's current style of music is the result of “evolution.” The group originally formed as a straight-ahead jazz combo, but has since transformed to an original soul sound that includes inflections of funk, R&B, jazz, rock & hip-hop. The current members of the collective are experienced in virtually all styles of western music, and the resulting creations of these talented musicians have a wide appeal.

Alesia Dessau’s sultry vocals and inventive lyrics float effortlessly above tight vocal harmonies, solid rhythmic grooves, and carefully placed melodies. One needs to look no further than Dessau's carefully assembled band to notice the diverse influences involved in Natural Selection’s music. Where Natural Selection truly excels, though, is in live performance. The onstage chemistry that exists between all of the band members is infectious, and the adventurous, improvised nature of the music moves any audience. The powerful vocals and the foundation of solid rhythmic communication that define Natural Selection’s sound are magnified by the energy of their live shows.

It’s not surprising that Natural Selection has regular gigs at many of Philadelphia’s top original music venues, and enjoys the presence of a large and loyal following consisting of fans of all styles of music.

For booking information contact...
nattyselect@gmail.com