Editors' pick

Zo! and the Foreign Exchange Soundsystem

Funk/soul
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Editorial Review

The liner notes of Zo's album "Sunstorm" feature a sepia-toned photograph of an afro'ed infant gleefully clutching old soul records. Fast-forward a few years and the tot is a school kid practicing his piano lessons with adult-like focus, the afro still connecting him to the stars on the covers of those beloved records. Multi-instrumentalist and producer Zo has birthed a strain of modern R&B with hip-hop in its DNA, but he never lets you forget that his musical architecture builds on a structure erected by old masters. On "Sunstorm," everything from a Midwest-style stepper anthem, quiet-storm ballads and a soaring jazz-fusion flight bear the imprint of a student well-schooled in both modern beats and the work of Quincy Jones and the Mizell Brothers. The album features contributions from a who's who of modern soul, including Jesse Boykins III, Eric Roberson and Darien Brockington. The release party, tonight at U Street Music Hall, should be a celebration.

-- Rhome Anderson (August 2010)