Victory Soul Orchestra
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Victory Soul Orchestra

Albany, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015

Albany, New York, United States
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Rock Funk




"Astrobeat Review"

Hailing from Albany, New York, Victory Soul Orchestra describes themselves as a “nine-piece afro-jazz/funk/soul,” band. And if you think that description makes them sound interesting, just wait until you hear them play.

Very much like their live show, Victory Soul Orchestra’s album is packed with funky, delicious jams from a set of musicians that know their way around their instruments. From start to finish you will enjoy some of the most unique ska-infused, African-driven, funky-style jams you can imagine. The album doesn’t have many lyrics, but you won’t miss them a bit over the bass, drums, guitars, and horns galore. When the lyrics do appear, however, you will certainly want more.

If you haven’t heard this band, you should know that Victory Soul Orchestra has one of the most prolific and polished sounds out there. And this album, with high-energy tracks like Astrobeat and Tru’s March to keep you on your toes, and down-tempo rhythms like Zoe Barnes, is a ride through funky town that you’re going to want to take over and over again. - Mirth Films

"Astrobeat Release Show Preview"

The late Sharon Jones was a force of nature. The vintage soul-funk of Jones, her backing band the Dap-Kings and the Daptone Records label she was the centerpiece of for years is just so fresh, so alive that it can leave an indelible mark on listeners.

About four years ago, trumpeter Joel Yannuzzi was sucked in by the Daptone sound. But Yannuzzi did more than just listen to the tunes; he drew creative inspiration. He started a new band.

"Around that time, I started really listening to (Daptone recording artist) Budos Band," Yannuzzi recalled. "The mix of horns, big rock guitar and these Ethiopian rhythms, it was really cool-sounding stuff.

"That whole of Daptone, I loved how really talented they are and how they record things. It's inspirational," he continued. "Victory Soul Orchestra was started out of respect – they do it so well and they don't get the credit they deserve."

To bring his musical vision to life, Yannuzzi teamed up with his bandmate from Albany-based surf rockers Kimono Dragons, bassist Sarah Clark, baritone saxophonist Joe Paparone, keyboard player Ryan Devine, drummer Ben Fedak and guitarist Justin Fuld to create the Albany-based Victory Soul Orchestra. After some time jamming, the band grew.

"Along the way, we beefed up the band," he explained. "Pretty early on, like the second year, we added a percussion section (percussionist Nick Palazeke). Then we started beefing up the horn section (to include Chris Russell on tenor sax and Dave Paul on trombone)."

While the initial influence was rooted in soul music, Yannuzzi sees Victory Soul Orchestra as more than a "straight soul" act. The band's ability to incorporate strands of funk, Afrobeat, jazz and rock has given Victory Soul Orchestra the flexibility to play with a diverse cross-section of 518 talent.

"We can hang out with anybody," Yannuzzi enthused. "We started out doing (Albany-based collective) Built4BBQ shows and those guys do punk, straight-ahead rock stuff. Then at the same time, we're doing shows with (DJ) Trumaster and (local hip-hop label) BeatShot."

On Saturday, Victory Soul Orchestra will be celebrating that musical adroitness with a concert at the Hollow. Hosted by DJ Trumaster and featuring sometimes collaborator JB aka Dirty Moses and a set from local jam rock-and-funk hybrid Hartley's Encore, the show is also an album release party for Victory Soul Orchestra's first full-length LP, "Astrobeat."

"Astrobeat," released digitally this past December, is the product of several years' worth of writing and live fine-tuning. Considering that everyone in the band has full-time jobs and real-life obligations that make it unfeasible to have lengthy recording sessions, Yannuzzi made sure the material he was coming up with was ready to go before booking time at Blue Sky Studios in Delmar. Once the studio was booked, Victory Soul Orchestra hit it and quit, recording live and fast. Basic recording was wrapped up in two days, with some horn overdubs and minor tweaks over the course of the past year.

"I try to make it as efficient as possible," Yannuzzi explained. "As a band of eight, nine people you really get into time management. I tried to be super-prepared and keep it as professional as possible.

"All these players read music, none of us have the time, we don't have eight or nine hours a day to practice like kids," he continued. "I tried to be efficient and not burn everybody out."

Yannuzzi is looking forward to the Hollow performance and releasing "Astrobeat" on vinyl for the first time. As well as being an important event for the band, it's the culmination of an immersion into a vibrant Albany music scene that, much like the Daptone sound, sucked him in after moving to the Capital District from Baltimore in 2003.

"I came up from Baltimore and met Sarah and Eric (Sarah's husband and bandmate in Kimono Dragons and Charmboy), and became friends with them early on. And I worked with Joe Papparone at John Keel Music," he noted. "There was and is a lot of music going on. The Capital District, it's not as small as you think it is." - Albany Times Union

"NYS Music Astrobeat Preview"

You need not preach to Joel Yannuzzi on the importance of timing.

In hindsight, however, it is ironic to remember how he was running late to his band’s rehearsal one Thursday night. We agreed to meet at Justin Fuld’s home in Voorheesville. That’s where Victory Soul Orchestra gets together. When fully assembled, it’s a nine-piece funk band. Coordinating schedules between bandmates is a task within itself. We initially agreed to meet at six o’clock. Just prior to that, he said he was running late. “I will make it there by 6:10,” he texted.

The Fulds live in a quiet development comprised of raised ranches, well-kept lawns and only holiday lighting to distinguish one home from the next. Their driveway is atop of where two streets intersect at a “T.” A fact that’s important only as I sat inside my car; I observed Yannuzzi’s sedan sprint down the road and coast up the driveway, like T.S. Garp in his make-believe submarine, before he popped out of the car, retrieved his gear and slipped himself past the open garage door. It was the start of a near procession of cars as the rest of his bandmates rolled in before disappearing through the garage door. Within minutes, it had the look of a high school keg party, but on a school night.

Inside, everyone works on preparing their respective instrument. Ben Fedak pieces together his drum kit. Nick Palazeke does the same with his congas. Fuld is caught in a conversation over his addiction to Starbucks cold brew coffee with keyboard player “Devo” Devine and alto-sax player, Chris Russell. Sarah Clark is taking out her bass when the band’s trombone player, Dave Paul, hustles in. Paul shares a quick apology as he takes his place next to baritone-sax player, Joe Paparone. It’s a few minutes after 6:30 and they’re giving themselves two hours to go over their playlist. Within minutes, Yannuzzi pulls his trumpet in. He calls “D is Dead” out to the room. On queue, Fedak strikes his tom-tom and the horns blast.

“It’s all about schedules,” said Yannuzzi. Everyone juggles times with jobs and families. Yannuzzi is a school teacher. Palazeke lives “20 minutes” away in Rotterdam, but plays in a handful of other bands. Fuld plucks away on his guitar while his wife tends to the kids upstairs.

Clark may be the coolest librarian around. The affable bassist picked up the instrument a dozen years ago because she found it “easy.” She said the same thing about going into library science, “Well, I thought it was easy,” she said. She seldom seems to be without a smile on her face. After several years working in a frenetic environment at the Albany Public Library, she accepted the director position at Voorheesville Public Library last November. “I could get used to this,” she said, describing her first day on the job.

“Nobody here is making money off of this,” said Yannuzzi. “Any money we made went towards the record.”

Tonight, the band’s preparing for their album release party at The Hollow Bar + Kitchen on Saturday, Jan. 26. It’s the first show in which they intend to play all — mostly all — original work. They will showcase songs from “Astrobeat,” an 11-track album printed exclusively on vinyl, outside of online streaming channels like Spotify. The show will also include Hartley’s Encore, DJ Trumastr and JB – aka Dirty Moses, who cameo’s on “Shot Your Shot,” an inspirational B-side track. It’s also the only track on the album with lyrics.

Victory Soul Orchestra is unique to the local scene. An exclusively instrumental group backed by a strong horn section you’d be hard pressed to find outside of a big band. So many moving parts, Yannuzzi furrows his brow as he concentrates on each part. As the band finishes a song, he gives a quick suggestion to try something different.

“It’s physically exhausting,” he said, speaking more towards playing his own instrument. With a slender build, he appears to be in good shape. He said he also just gave up smoking. A habit he picked up in high school.

Yannuzzi started piecing the band together four years ago. Devo joined after hearing about it from Clark. Fuld, who’s been friends with Devo since grade school, asked to tag along for a practice, and it grew from there. Each brings an appreciation for music from the past. Paparone, however, hates Jimi Hendrix.

“I don’t hate Hendrix,” he said, as the rest of the band chuckles. It’s a reputation he developed after the band performed a Hendrix themed show and it’s been a joke within the band ever since. He moans at the thought of covering “Fire.” “Every high school garage band does that song.”

As the evening starts to wane, Fuld throws on a King Curtis record. Captured on vinyl is Jerry Jermont plucking away at his bass while Curtis introduces Aretha Franklin’s band during a performance at Fillmore West in 1971. It’s “Memphis Soul Stew.” Fuld tries to step in.

“I give about a half a teacup of bass,” he said, as Clark mirrors back on her bass. It was the start of a near procession as the rest of her bandmates rolled in and found their place in the stew. Fuld stumbles as he tries to find words that will reference home instead of “Memphis.”

“Well, that’s how Curtis makes a stew,” he said. “I’m not going back and telling him that he’s wrong.” - Spotlight 518




Victory Soul Orchestra is a hometown horn funk favorite. The dirty sounds of New Orleans brass drive their sound with influences that include Galactic as well as the Dap Kings. You can also find them fronted by Albany's own MC extraordinaire JB!! aka Dirty Moses. Their efforts combined help create a funk/rap show that brings the house down!

The 10-piece band was formed in 2015 by trumpeter Joel Yannuzzi. Since then they have consistently performed in and around the NY Capital Region, playing with several international touring acts over that time. These acts include Average White Band, Fishbone, Wyclef Jean, The Slackers, Sadat X, and The Brighton Beat among others.

In January 2019 they self-released their first album (titled Astrobeat), which is available now digitally and on vinyl. The band was nominated for two awards at the first-ever Thomas Edison Music Awards, in the categories 'Best Rock Band' and 'Best R&B/Soul' group. Their song 'Suspension of Disbelief' was featured as the 'sports' section on the popular podcast 'Welcome to Nightvale'.

Recent events for the band have included headlining performances at Albany's PearlPalooza and Kingston's O+ Festival.

Band Members