Ernie Hawks and The Soul Investigators ‘Scorpio Man’ LP/CD/DIG (Timmion) 4/5

Hailing from Finland might not be the most likely place to find a flautist with a jazz and funk background, but Ernie Hawks is backed by one of the tightest musical outfits on the planet in The Soul Investigators, who previously backed Nicole Willis, and the resulting music has a strong early 1970’s feel with a groovy nod towards psychedelia. The Fender solo intro to ‘Windy City Blues’, features wah-wah guitar and some gentle flute and is an immediate winner as is the subtle Afro-funk of ‘Street Of Tears’, which has strong rhythm guitar work. Arguably, the strongest number, though, is ‘Scorpio Man Theme’, with a drum beat intro, percussion and brass ensemble, and Hawks embarking upon a Roland Kirk inspired flute journey here that works a treat. There is something of a Marvin ‘Inner City Blues feel to ‘Bag Full Of Miracles’, and it is on the minor chord numbers such as this that Ernie Hawks excels. On the evocative cover, Ernie Hawks poses in a native Indian outfit that is not without recalling a mid-1960’s album cover by Johnny Cash in praise of the cause of that minority group. This album is likely to have a wider appeal to fans of old-skool funk and even hip-hop as well as jazz fans with a progressive attitude towards fusion with funk.

Tim Stenhouse