Jimi Hendrix & Jazz-Funk

Jimi Hendrix untimely death unleashed a spectre (along with the still living demons of James Brown and Sly Stone) on Miles Davis recordings in the 70's. Across both "Jack Johnson" and "Agharta" we see the three combined in the form of Robert Johnson's hellhound. On "Jack Johnson" Hendrix allusions dominate "Right Off" and "Yesternow" from start to finish. From Billy Cobham’s muscular R&B drums (a young Buddy Miles with technique) to John McLaughlins fierce, snappy Wah-Wah riffs to Sonny Sharrock's closing sections on "Yesternow" where he unleashes a sea of feedback that drifts ominously through the music. But it is with "Agharta" that we get as fans the most explicit understanding of what might have happened if Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix had gone into the studio together. Jimi Hendrix haunts "Agharta" from beginning to end and Miles invokes him ceaselessly through both the two guitarists and his own wah-wah drenched trumpet and organ. Pete Cosey (one of the guitarists) represents Jimi's ornamatic, poetic guitar improvisation side while Reggie Lucas (the other guitarist) represents Jimi's soul, funk, and R&B side. Here Miles Davis both grapples with and mourns Jimi by playing solos over the 4-sides of the album that are simultaneously laconic and eloguent, sobbing unashamedly, without even the slightest hint of sentimentally. If you want to know what Miles Davis thought of Jimi Hendrix go no further than this album, everything you need to know is on "Agartha".

So, Jimi Hendrix didn't just influence players, he influenced a whole new form (Fusion/Jazz-Funk) and for a good example listen to what Miles does on his album _Agharta_ (along with _Pangea_ were his last recordings before hiatus) where they settle into a deep rhythmic groove thing invoked by Sly Stone and James Brown and then Miles starts invoking Hendrix through his two guitar players (Cosey and Lucas) along with his own wah-way drenched trumpet. One guitar player invokes Jimi's R&B, blues, funk leanings while the other gets into that ornamental, ethereal thing...the influence is unmistakable.

-- unknown posting from the "Hey Joe Mailing List"

Jimi Hendrix and the "UNCUT FUNK" - John the Baptist ?

Some hard core "funkateers" talk about the notion of a "holy trinity" of funk (James Brown, Sly Stone and George Clinton). If you take this notion one step further, Jimi can in many ways be regarded as "John the Baptist". He pointed the way to the future.
I have absolutely no idea who the artist was that did the painting at the left, but he/she certainly gets the point across. Jimi Hendrix, sitting on top of the White House, pointing his guitar at a spacecraft (the mothership perhaps ???)

While I was in high school I became exposed to the music of Jimi Hendrix in a big way. This was as a result of the friends that I made at the all white high school that I was bussed to. But it just wasn’t cool to dig Jimi Hendrix back in my neighborhood, so I became a closet Jimi Hendrix fan. When I arrived in college at the University of Pittsburgh in 1973, I found the completely different environment with respect to the music of Jimi Hendrix. You can imagine my sheer delight when going to Black fraternity parties both on and off campus and seeing people moving and grooving to prime Hendrix cuts such as "Who Knows .wav file 50 K " & "Dolly Dagger". (dancing to Jimi Hendrix ????)
Interesting enough at these parties “Dolly Dagger” was usually followed by "Cosmic Slop" - Funkadelic
The very first album that I purchased upon my arrival in the city of Pittsburgh was "Rainbow Bridge". I still have that album (one of the few vinyl albums that I still own) and still play it occasionally, even with all of the pops and scratches it still sounds great. If you were to close your eyes and listen to it, you would swear that you were listening to an “early Funkadelic album" ......which of course is exactly what Rainbow Bridge is !!!
(Where do you think they got all of those ideas from in the first place ?)

Prototype Funkateer

In my mind, both the life and music of Jimi represent the a prototype for being a funkateer. He lived his life without restrictions of race or class and his music combined both power and sensitivity. His death in 1970 was a tragic (but not fatal) blow for a movement among a certain type of person (usually but not always Black), that would reach it's height during the mid-70's. He was searching for just the right fusion of Soul, Jazz, Blues and Rock, that would obliterate artificial categories between both music and people.

Presented bellow are some definitions gathered from some of the folks we hang out with on-line. Read them and see if you don't agree that Jimi wasn't the first !

1. I can definitely see what you are talking about in terms of "lifestyle". For example, when people in the chat room are saying things like "I lived the FUNK", it isn't just a catch phrase. Usually people are referring to an entire lifestyle (clothes, politics, sports, art, movies, work, hairstyles ......and yes even music !!!) that defined them as a person. The 1970's were truly a glorious time to be a young black american and the FUNK was at the core of it all !!! Many of us were able to experience (thanks to the Civil Rights Movement) a kind of freedom that our parents had never enjoyed. And the FUNK was at the heart of it all. One of the best parts about this is that it was (and still is) a common "shared experience" of pure joy. It was a time of cultural expression, political solidarity and musical grooves that seems to have disappeared from the american scene. I just hope that it hasn't disappeared for good. Does anyone have a clue as to what happened to that "groove" ?

2. I my opinion, a "funkateer" is much more than a person who listens to funk music. I feel that it is more like an attitude and a way of life. A "funkateer" likes to party and have a good time, but also takes care of business. They are responsible people who will question the "status quo" and will speak their honest opinions. They have a vision of a better world and are willing to stand up for causes that will bring it about. Almost everyone that I know that calls themselves a "funkateer" possess these qualities. I feel that the world needs more of them!

3. What Im tryin to say is that music isnt just music. Its a lifestyle and behavior yes. If your like me, music influences alot of aspects of my personality. If you can get into music instead of just listening to it, then any music can be a way of life. It sort of becomes a part of you, when you feel down you think of or listen to a feel good song like "No Woman No Cry" as the lyrics go "everythings gonna be alright". If you feel bored you listen of a up beat song,and so on. Well I hope you get what Im trying to say, Peace Out.:)

Click here to enter your suggestions and feedback

Jimi's Discography, Album Reviews and Music Downloads