Engineering other bands at Paradise Recordings gave drummer Will Kahn a unique perspective on forming his own group. Not only did he want to avoid the more popular ’70s funk jams, playing instead ’50s and ’60s soul and gospel, he also wanted to do it with the best players possible—which he found thanks to the studio.
Kahn created a list of players to call when musicians needed back-up players, and used the best of those to create his own group: Paradise Soul Savers.
“You see these bands that are doing the standard funk. A lot of them play too fast, if you ask me,” Kahn says. “It’s very deliberate to say that we’re a soul band. Because it’s slower, you can fit more swing and put more oomph in it. We’re extremely conscious of groove.”
Besides Kahn on drums, the lineup features Etienne Franc on bass/vocals, Russel Kreitman on keys and Ron Work on guitar.
“These guys are all really phenomenal musicians,” Kahn says. “These guys are my first-call guys.”
The group is still new, and their focus has been locking in on their sound, which involves mostly playing covers. But they’ve also backed some local musicians, including Chris Rene, Gina Rene and Reverend Deborah Johnson. Their goal is to simultaneously find their own unique voice, but remain flexible enough to back up any singer-songwriter.
“We improvise some originals, but really at this point we are playing covers that the average person has heard maybe 20 percent of,” Kahn says. “The point of that right now is to really stretch the band, to like really hone in a sound. We’ve already done a ton of improvisation together.”
INFO: 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 21. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $15/adv, $20/door. 479-1854.