Archive for the ‘ Funk ’ Category

George Anderson – Expressions

Hands up if you remember Shakatak and great dance tracks like ‘Down on the Street’. Hands up if you read that and thought “I wonder what ever happened to Shakatak…”

What happened to Shakatak is that they have continued to tour and to release their own brand of British jazz-funk. Check out their website to see what you missed…

One of the cornerstones of the Shakatak sound was – and still is – the solid bass sound of George Anderson. I’m lucky enough to have a promo of George’s second solo record ‘Expressions’ and I’m doubly excited that my CDR was burned on the computer that was used to master the album. Hot off the press or what? Enough chat – let’s get to the music!

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Rico Belled – XR7

XR7 is an album about the relationship between man and machine. In a time where most music is so computerized and emotion is not easily found, Rico Belled takes a bold approach: to try to truly integrate the computer into the traditionally non-electronic musical style of Jazz. When most musicians ‘fix’ their mistakes during the recording process, Belled instead celebrates the imperfections, seamlessly blending acoustic instruments with virtual ones, never quantizing anything. Featuring 4 songs done entirely without a click-track, even the 6 that did start life on a grid, never sound metronomic, bursting with life from the many layers.

Named after his beloved 1973 Mercury Cougar XR7, a car which Rico has driven around L.A. for almost 15 years, this CD is built to last. Blending elements of the past and the now, more than anything it’s a hint at the future of music, where anything goes. Stylistic walls are crumbling, with everyone exposed to all kinds of music and sounds from all over the world. Fearlessly breaking down the walls so carefully built up by purists, it is Jazz in its truest sense, where improvisation rules, but composition matters and is not just an obstacle on the way to showing off chops. Drawing from a deep well of years as one of L.A.’s top session musicians, Grammy nominated Belled pulls out all the stops.

Rico chooses to use the computer as a kind of ‘multiplication machine’ allowing him not to sterilize his performance, but instead create densely layered music inspired by Phil Spector’s famous “Wall Of Sound” style of production. The possibilities are endless and he explores many: from complex odd-meter jazz, to sexy R&B, from Smooth Jazz to soaring Fusion, XR7 is a musical journey bursting with originality, while never sounding contrived or forced. Featuring 10 original songs, and some of the best musicians in the world, Rico showcases his versatility as a multi-instrumentalist, playing bass on 7, keys on 8, and guitar on 9 of the tunes, in addition to producing, engineering, mixing and mastering the record. In keeping with the spirit, Belled has tried to find exactly how much one man can do with the help of the machine of machines: the computer.

Instead of focusing on expensive equipment, everything recorded at Back Scratch Studios and Mad Meece Audio was done on literally the cheapest equipment money can buy. Running on a $500 computer Rico built, Sonar X1 was used in combination with a $200 Motu 2408 MKII and Behringer Mic Pres, with inexpensive mics, for everything but Karasony’s drums and Buckingham’s and Kashiwa’s solos. The entire rig used costs less than $2000, including the mics. Mixed and mastered in his apartment, Belled has shown that a great sounding record can now be made at bargain prices, IF the human in charge knows what he’s doing!

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I Happened To Hear 02/2012

If you look back at the October 2011 ‘I Happened to Hear’, you’ll see how much I enjoyed Scott Martin Band’s last studio outing.

The blazing ‘Manteca’ will please fans of really energetic Latin music. The piano and percussion are sizzling, but the sax is positively burning. You’ll hear the same lightning-fast runs on the groovy ‘Watusi Boogaloo’ too. That’s not to say that pianist Mark Massey gets left behind – his solos on both these songs are very satisfying. They’re very soulful and a touch of humour creeps in. Great, great stuff!! I loved the version of ‘Gregory is Here’ from the preceding studio release and it’s my favourite track here too. At eight minutes, you can get seriously drawn in.

The mood is sexy for ‘A Night in Rio’ and also for the beautiful ‘Only Trust Your Heart’. Reach for that cocktail or that chilled chardonnay…

Fans of music that brings a smile to your face will lap up the party tune ‘Mardi Gras Mambo’. Likewise, the more, ahem, mature fusion fans will love this band’s take on the Crusaders’ timeless ‘Keep that Same Old Feeling’. They deliver a respectful and true rendition which must have had a whole theatre-full of heads nodding. I wish I’d been there…


Farnell Newton – Class Is Now In Session

Hailing from Miami, Florida Farnell Newton finally moved to Portland, Oregon. He has performed regularly with musicians such as Mel Brown, Thara Memory, Bobby Torres, Johnny Polanco, Ricardo Lemvo, Darrell Grant, and is now member of Mike Phillips band. He also recently performed as trumpeter for the 2009 Soul Train Awards house band.

He is also an adjunct professor of Jazz Studies at Portland State University and run a high school jazz youth program (PDX Jazz Project) on the weekends (

His first solo album Sense of Direction was released in 2006 on Diatic Records. His newest album is entitled Class Is Now In Session (2011). The album could be created with the support of 133 backers on Kickstarter, which is obviously the model for future releases.


Chris Mann Interviews Robin Duhe

CM – Robin, what I wanted to do was go back to the beginning. You’re Californian by birth right?

RD – I was born in Oakland, California, home of the Oakland Raiders.

CM – One of their other exports was Tower of Power.

RD – There you go! They have a lot of acts coming out of Oakland.

CM – Yeah, I’m a big fan of theirs. Now I read that, as a young guy, you were probably as keen on sports as you were on music.

RD – Yeah, I played a lot a lot of ball. I’ve got a broken hip to prove it. I need a hip replacement – I’ll be a bionic man (laughs)

CM – (laughs) Six Million Dollar Man.

RD – Yeah.

CM – When did you make the decision that it would be a career in music for you Robin?

RD – That was maybe in tenth grade – came early. I was in a band – I was playing clubs in eighth grade. My father used to come and check on me. So I was already kind of working you know.

But then I got into high school – I was always playing ball. I was on the basketball team and couldn’t make some of the practices because I was playing or rehearsing so it was then that I had to make a choice between basketball and playing music.

I was already playing. I was backing up this singer named Vernon Garrett and we had put a record out, ‘We People of the Ghetto’. So my head was already in the music…

But I love playing basketball. My son plays ball – he got a scholarship to university, playing in Chicago.


Jeffery Smith – After the Rain

This is Jeffery’s debut CD released in 1997. These recordings are exceptional and timeless for a debut release. The vocals and guitar licks on these original recordings are raw and full of smooth soul. This CD puts the artist in a category to himself. The recording released after these recordings are a extension there of. As you listen to these recordings, you will hear some of the artist later works buried underneath the grooves and melodies. This is a for sure jewel to keep in your collection.

You have now the opportunity to buy this gem at CDBaby.

Craig T. Cooper – Nasty Man

My first contact to Craig T. Cooper‘s music was his song Coast to Coast from his album Got That Thang (1990). One of my top-five songs of a huge smooth jazz collection. Infected by his music I became an avid collector of his compositions on his albums Craig T. Copper Project (1989), Darkm’n (1993), Touch Tone (1995), A Romantic Letter (1996), Caught Up In A Moment (1999), Hour Glas (2006) and his side project with Denise Stewart Decide On Me (2001). She took part in his musical success as the female singer on many of his albums.

As a sideman he worked with a legion of musicians. I recommend to read the credits on his website. After a long hiatus Craig is back with a new album entitled Nasty Man (2011). The album is a ballanced piece of music with some covers but much more self-composed and arranged songs.

Craig got some support by musicians like Jaman Laws (tenor sax), the son of legendary saxophonist Ronnie Laws, Deborah Rivers and Denise Stewart (background vocals), veteran bassist Sekou Bunch, who played with the who-is-who of pop and jazz, world-class drummer Ndugu Chancler, “the virtuous man” Kevin Toney on piano and organ, Mr. “Basic Instinct” Del Atkins on upright bass, percussion player Victor Orlando (GAP Band, Billy Preston, Chaka Khan) and rap singer Bojangles.


New Foundation – Goin’ Places

Stirring-the-soul and moving-the-feet are themes at the heart of New Foundation’s freshman CD, Goin’ Places. Every song on the CD varies, still there’s an air of familiarity that links each tune. Songs like “Patricia” and “Sincere” honestly and personally connect to the listener with depth and emotional heft. The realness is rare and deepens the listener’s appreciation.

While tunes like “Yo Tengo Tango” , “Chocolate ” and “Max Anna Split” push way pass the edge with danceable rhythms full of energetic bursts juxtaposed against the quieter moments. The sound strobes the mind with a fresh approach not often associated with the genre.

Goin’ Places is lively and well paced with an unusually warm and approachable feel. Each tune has it’s place in creating the greater whole. It’s “visible” to the ear how a broader perspective on the smooth jazz genre has come from this collaboration.

New Foundation is Goin’ Places, and we’re happy to be along for the ride. No wonder,  Curtis Harmon (POAD) is in the team. Tagged under Jazz Funk (!)  we like this smooth jazz CD now at CDBaby.


Nick Colionne – Feel The Heat

Chicago is a fountain for smooth jazz artists with big talent. Among those talents one can find a bird of paradise. Renowned jazz guitarist Nick Colionne is the best-dressed musician always clad in colorful suits. But these garments aren’t satisfying no other purpose than the enjoyment of doing it, they are Nick’s trademark signaling his musical stardom. His first albums It’s My Turn, Arrival and The Seduction were released on the Lake Shore Jazz label followed by Just Come On In (2003), Keepin’ It Cool (2006), and No Limits (2008). His new album Feel The Heat (2011) will be released on Trippin & Rhythm next month.

After the first tones you know, this is a Nick Colionne quality. Some Funky are his first steps into the new album. The Steve Miller influenced tune is the right place for Nick’s brilliant guitar performance.

The Windy Dance is Nick’s new radio single. A tribute to his hometown. Funky, crispy and a great hit for the hot summer. John Blasucci supports Nick’s guitar play with distinguished keyboard lines.

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Funk My Dog – Funk My Dog

Funk My Dog is a project of Peter Marsh and Larry Tomko. Peter worked in the British music scene with Ken Nichol (Easy Street), Twist, Manfred Mann, Blanket of Secrecy, Nick Lowe, Vangelis and Godley & Crème. A few years back Peter moved from London to France, where he met Larry Tomko, a songwriter, singer and saxophonist from San Francisco.

Larry worked in the bands Wind Crazy, Shajazz, Firefly, and Armed Gang. He opened one of the first private recording studios in Italy and worked with the Italian group I Pooh. Later he performed with groups from the Bay area like White Teeth, Nobody Famous and Jorge Santana. In France he worked with the band West Coast.

Peter and Larry met at a Peter Marsh & Co concert. Peter and Larry recorded first some commercial TV tunes in Peter’s studio. One week later both recorded again some songs, which were ready for a take off as the fertile Smooth Nu Jazz Funk album Funk My Dog.

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