Led by guitarist/composer Ed “Mr. Ed” Starrett, the vibrant fusion ensemble known as Soul Café has been thrilling audiences in the St. Louis area for more than 20 years with their blend of complex jazz and funk, Latin accents and driving grooves. Now, with their new album Step Aside, the soulful six-piece band urges listeners to clear a path for their exhilarating, infectious sound. Step Aside also serves as both reintroduction and rebirth for Starrett and Soul Café. It’s the band’s first album wholly composed of original material since their 2003 debut, Unspoken Request; the first studio session for the band’s stellar current line-up, which has honed its sound over a dozen years together; and the first outing for the band following Starrett’s nearly decade-long battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. The title Step Aside has a couple of meanings for me,” Starrett explains. “We as a band are stepping aside from what we’ve done in the past a way and bringing our own identity to the forefront. On a more personal level, I was able to walk through a very dark, challenging and difficult time while keeping this band together and moving forward. So for me, Step Aside means that I can finally put that chapter behind me.”