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HEY, ACID-JAZZ CAN BE SUPER FUNKY!!





By - "Stimpson"

There's alot of funk fans that think that they have to necessarily buy records from the 70's for their fix, when there's a burgeoning scene that's been going on for the past 6-7 years.

Considering that all things funky are discussed in this newsgroup, I'm surprised that there's rarely any discussion on some newer acid-jazz groups that are putting music out that's easily as funky as anything released during the heyday. For example, I'm sure that many fans of Donald Byrd would truly dig the Greyboy Allstars, who are laying down stuff that's quite similar in groove without sounding like clones. Also, I'm pretty sure that fans of artists like Herbie Hancock and Jimmy Smith would groove to Slide Five and The James Taylor Quartet. Like War and Santana? Groove Collective's done stuff that's reminiscent of those two bands while still sounding as fresh as ever. Besides, Acid-Jazz labels are also quite prominent in releasing some very rare and previously unreleased old-school funk like the New Jersey Kings and The Pharoahs.

Like everyone here, I'm always searching for new, fresh sounds that stretch the boundaries of funk and help to evolve the music to the next level. While there are a few good artists that are doing just that right here in North America, I feel that the RnB/Rap/Hip Hop scene is at a bit of a creative lowpoint in terms of doing something new with our favorite music and evolving it's sound. I'd have to say that alot of the really great new funky sounds are coming out of England rather than the US, both from the DJ culture and from fresh new bands who grew up listening to James Brown and all the greats.

I guess I'm mentioning all of this in an attempt to broaden the spectrum of our discussions, and hopefully to get other listmembers to talk about and review all the really great new stuff that's being released overseas that isn't necessarily listed under "funk" in the record stores. Personally, I can't possibly keep up with all of the new stuff that's coming out, but I'm often in a position where I find myself wanting to buy something new and funky, but just can't think of what to buy anymore, and the funk list is quite obviously one of my primary sources for that sort of info. In any case, here's a list of some funky stuff that's been released in the last few years. For anyone who is so inclined, feel free to list some of your favorite new funky artists; that's what I'm hoping will come of this post.






SOME ACID JAZZ YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT...
  • Medeski, Martin and Wood!! Super-funky organ jazz. Get "Shack-Man", y'all won't regret it! Their latest album, "Combustication" is also quite good. Actually, John Scofield's latest record, "A Go-Go" is a collaboration with MMW and is also quite funky..

  • Greyboy Allstars- Personally, I love everything these guys have done, but I'd have to say that my favorite record is "Freestylin'". They've also released an album called "West Coast Boogaloo" which features none other than Fred Wesley on the trombone. Vibes, organs, flutes, percussion, turntables: these guys have it all

  • The James Taylor Quartet(no, not that one): The Money Spyder- I name this record cos it's the only one I own, but all of their stuff should satisfy fans of organ-funk and spy and car chase type psychedelic music. They do great funky covers of Blowup, Mission Impossible, the theme to Starsky and Hutch, even Led Zep's Whole Lotta Love.

  • New Jersey Kings- Party To The Bus Stop: This is an old 70's band whose music was sitting around in record company vaults until someone "discovered" them. Released in '96, most of this stuff was never released before, except for a few 7" singles. Great party grooves, complete with a great Miles Davis/On The Corner-type album cover.

  • Groove Collective- We The People: This record definitely reminds me of Santana's Abraxas at times, but branches out into other funky sounds as well. Until today, this was the only Groove Collective album I owned, but I found their self-titled album today for 3$, so what the hay. After one listen, it sounds like very good funky Roots/Digable Planets-type rap/RnB. Anyone heard their last one "Dance of the Drunken Master"? I had a chance to listen to the first Groove Collective record a little more in-depth this morning, and I'd say that it's primo beat laden jazzhiphopfunk that would appeal to fans of groups like The Digable Planets. Whole lotta instruments going on this record, including congas, vibraphone, flute, trombone, saxaphone, clarinet, kalimba, keys, piano and Fender Rhodes. You can just imagine how good it gets if all these musicians can pull it off, and they certainly can!


  • Slide Five- Rhode Trip: Man, I just loooooove this record!!! Fans of organ jazz-funk won't be disappointed.

  • The Pharoahs- In the Basement: Great afro-party funk from a now defunct 11-piece outfit, from which, according to the liner notes, some of Earth Wind and Fire's original members came from. Don't know which members, sorry.

  • As for compilations, Ubiquity records' excellent Cookin' series is a sure-fire bet. Fans of psychedelic music would definitely dig most of the stuff being released by great labels like Crippled Dick Hot Wax and Irma Records. Ubiquity records also put out an excellent "Loungecore series" which would appeal to fans of psychedelia.

  • Incognito- Excellent funky acid-jazz with really smooth, laid-back beats. "Beneath The Surface" is their smoothest record and probably their best, while "Positivity" and "100 and Rising" tend to be a little more upbeat, but they've recently put out a greatest hits comp called "Blue Moods" which I don't think necessarily contains their best songs, but gives the listener a good idea of what they're about. I'd recommend Incognito mostly to fans who like jazz as well as funk, since their music leans fairly heavily towards a groovy jazz-funk sound.

  • King Britt's "Sylk 130-When The Funk Hits The Fan" is absolutely incredible. Fans of Digable Planets will know King Britt as the touring DJ, and the sounds on this record certainly remind one of the Digables. Top notch record from top to bottom, which includes a great party remake of "Last Nite a DJ Saved My Life"

  • The Jazzhole - Again, these guys should probably be recommended to jazz and beat-heads, but their stuff can be incredibly funky as well. They have two albums and an ep out on Justin Time records, with the funkiest of the three being "....And The Feeling Goes 'Round"