By: Rachel Aiello

Souljazz Orchestra performed to a packed house at Babylon Nightclub- the band’s home turf -March 28. The group’s distinct sound, showcased in their latest album: Solidarity, was achieved with Jaknuna’s help.


Solidarity, the latest Souljazz Orchestra album produced by Algonquin music engineering production instructor Jason Jaknunas, has been nominated for a Juno for World Music album of the year.

The Ottawa-based band and Jaknunas collaborated yet again to create and foster their signature synthesis of soulful and jazzy Afro, Latin and Caribbean sounds that saw them nominated in 2011 for Instrumental album of the year.  Solidarity is the group’s fifth record and with the assistance of Jaknunas’ music industry art talent, Souljazz’s Solidarity has also been picked by CBC as one of their top five world music albums of the year, as well as one of Exclaim magazine’s top groove albums of 2012.

Jaknunas has been working with Souljazz for nine years, after seeing them play at Café Nostalgica at the University of Ottawa.

“They blew my mind and I asked if I could work with them.  I’m reluctant to ask to work with people, kind of like asking a pretty girl out on a date… Regardless, I asked, and thankfully they said yes, and we haven’t looked back,” said Jaknunas in an email to the Times.

Although he is busy working in the studio throughout the week, Jaknunas still finds time to teach and incorporate his work into his classes, including bringing in Pierre Chrétien, a member of Souljazz to act as a guinea pig so the students can get experience working with a deeply involved artist.

“I think it’s great for the program because our instructors are real producer engineers that are actually working on stuff that gets nominated for Junos,” said Colin Mills, music industry arts program coordinator.

Jaknunas has been an instructor at the college for three years, after being the first phone call Mills made when he was looking for instructors to start off the new program and Jaknunas has taken the role as an instructor in stride.

“At one moment your jaw could be on the floor listening to a great vocal performance, and the other moment you could be soldering a cable, and then at another moment you could be acting as psychologist to members of a disintegrating band.  It’s curious.  Not many jobs like that out there.  I try to get the students to see that this gig is pretty special, and way more than just rock n’ roll,” said Jaknunas.

The 42nd annual Juno winners will be announced April 15-21 in Regina, Sask. And the award broadcast airs April 21. Jaknunas won’t be making it to the awards this year, but he insists it’s really about the band, and he’s just happy to be a part of a nominated record.

“Its awesome, how many artists from Ottawa get nominated?” said Mills.

“He’s very humble which I think is good, he’s not hiding it and I’m sure he’s very proud of it.”

As for Jaknunas, he is already hard at work at Metropolitan Studios on a new Souljazz Orchestra record, looking forward to pairing the bands increasing level of musicianship, and creative vision with his own tools and skills.

“I’m so proud of these dudes, because they deserve the accolades that they’ve been given.  They work their butts off, tour non-stop all over the world, and concentrate on making great music with no pretentions,” said Jaknunas.