Those of you who are either "jazz purists" or "p-nuts" will be well advised to click the back button on your browser at this point and explore some of the other pages on this web site because what follows may make you sick !!
For the rest of you who either were "funkateers" back in the day or want to know more about the reality of the FUNK should read on....and find out what the "real deal" was !!
Miles Davis, Weather Report, Donald Byrd, Lonnie Liston Smith, Return To Forever, Sun Ra, Gil Scott-Heron, Crusaders, Passport, Brian Auger's Oblivion Express, Ronnie Laws, Roy Ayers, George Duke, Herbie Hancock, Tom Scott, Charles Earland, Bro. Jack McDuff, Brecker Bros....yeah man....that's what I'm talking about !!
Read on to see the viewpoints of others that we hang out with online....
The discussion today about Narada Micheal Walden reminded me of a concept that has been festering around in my head for quite a while, but the idea isn't fully formed (but I figured that i would throw it out for discussion anyway)
Take the case of 3 (in my opinion) GREAT (damn near perfect) FUNK Artists
Most fans knew these 3 brothas as R&B hit making artists during the 1980's.
However, during the 1970's I knew these 3 artists best as members of two of the FIERCEST HARDCORE Jazz-Funk bands around
During the 1980's while the rest of the "Funk Universe" seemed to fall on hard times, these 3 brothas went on the "R&B Tip", yet still managed to retain all of their inherent FUNKINESS, still spreading that positive message, albeit to a different audience!
Anyhow, I was wondering if anyone else here might have some thoughts about this?
(or maybe I just think about this stuff too much?....lol)
Back in the late 1960's when Miles Davis went "electric", he did so because he wanted to reach out to younger Black people (such as myself) because he felt that Jazz had gotten too far away from the people.
So he created something that I refer to as "jazz-funk" by fusing his own music with the music of Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone and James Brown. He did this using young musicians such as James Mtume, Reggie Lucas, Micheal Henderson and others to do this.
In the wake of what Miles had done, other jazz musicians soon followed such as Tony Williams and Herbie Hancock from Miles old band in the 60's, and new groups like the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report, Return To Forever, etc were formed by sidemen who had played with Miles on the album "Bitches Brew".
I was a BIG FAN of this particular "fusion" of musical styles and all of these artists sure as hell reached me in a big way :)
Jazz purists HATED this music.
But there was a problem with it to be sure, even though this music was fantastic, it was almost all instrumental and still pretty damn deep, especially with some pretty overt African/Spiritual influences as well.
Therefore it never really found an audience among the masses of people that it was intended to reach (R&B Radio audience).
I guess my point is that some of the younger musicians from this period, namely James Mtume, Micheal Henderson and Narada Micheal Waldon were able to carry the intent of this music to it's logical conclusion during the 1980's and actually reach the massive R&B audience that Miles himself was unable to reach, and they were able to do so without "selling out".
I was just wondering if others here had any thoughts on this topic?
"I don't play music for people who hang out Music Conservatoires or Lincoln Center, I play music for people who hang out at the Rib Shack on Saturday Nights in Harlem..."
Hey Bob I see what you mean. Yeah those brothers retained their FUNKINESS, but they were lucky not to be famous (I mean they were sidemen first before breaking solo) as jazz artists in the 70's before going R'n B!!! A lot of jazz purists (to use a headline of a post I made a few months back!) hated when people like Herbie Hancock or Miles or other jazz greats switched to a somehow more 'commercial' music.
It was the big issue back then. Should the jazz stay jazz or could it be allowed to incorporate some funk and become jazz-funk, jazz-rock or fusion, whatever tag was invented back then. Some people dealt with it, but a lot of them had to readjust to those modern times. Jimmy Smith, Ramsey Lewis, Cedar Walton, Sonny Fortune, David Newman, Eddie Harris, Stanley Clarke, The Crusaders, Sonny Stitt and countless others added some groove and funk to their straight jazz. Even Dizzy Gillespie put some funk into his bop on some of his albums for Perception records or later when he did 'Unicorn' with Lalo Schifrin.
But I remember reading in 'Jazz-Hot' (the mag that has been the jazz follower's bible since the 30's here in France) pages of what would be classified today as 'hate mail' about that hybrid music. It took a few years before they ackowledged that this kind of music whas going to stay in spite of their narrow-minded opinions. Some like Herbie, earned the right to record whatever they wanted, straight jazz stuff to funk to hip-hop or solo piano. I think this is the way it should be. Sometimes it is a bit hard when you go to a concert not knowing what facet of his talent you are going to be exposed to, but the musicianship is always there and that's what counts after all.
Marcus Miller who played with Miles too, got a lot of exposure with all the Luther Vandross stuff, and did some rather lame solo stuff in the early 80's before becoming a renowned jazz-funk solo artist in his own right.
To talk about the artists you mentioned, I'd say 'Wide Receiver' is a far cry from what Michael Henderson did with Miles! You can imagine the expression on the faces of Miles' fans if they bought Michael's albums at that time, expecting to hear an extension of what he played with the celebrated trumpet player! Same goes for the two others but I love what they did. I just wish I could hear more from them in 1999!!
For thos eon the list who are interested in the continual progress of Black music -- I have a recommendation of a project I have yet to have seen discussed.
It's a cd that I think will prove to be a lasting 20th Century classic. It's called "Programmed" by the Innerzone Orchestra on Astralwerks Records, 1999. The cd is a jammin' collage of "futuristic" black music -- think free-jazz/mixed w. techno-funk and cinematic soul. IO is a project of the world famous techno-musician Carl Craig from Detroit. Craig as some of you may know is considered a pioneer of the Detroit Techno scene which largely gets uncredited for it's black roots. The cd is far from a techno-album so before you start thinking whirrs, bleeps and attacking beats -- think again.
Programmed is a concept project centered around a creature called Blacula -- a beat-vampire at the end of the 20th Century and his journey through the galaxy trying to find his fix. Each song of the 13 tracks is a mini-movie, and is really a masterpiece of artistic realization -- the cd listens like a journey. There's is a jazz-funk foundation featuring real ensemble players, mingled with state of the art technology and production techniques. It features two reworked classics that would be familiar to people on the list
-- "People make the world go around" and War's "Galaxy". If you like Herbie Hancock's Mawandishi or Bill Laswell's treatment of Mile's Pathalasia or their work together on Future Shock and Perfect Machine then do yourself a favor and check out "Programmed. It's black creativity at it's highest and most proficient level. If anyone has checked this one out already I would love to know what you think.
What/Who does this term bring to your mind ?
Billy Cohham, Roy Ayres, Passport, Return to Forever (Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea, Al DiMieola & Lenny White), Brecker Brothers, Miles Davis, James Blood Ulmer, Charles Earland, Weather Report, Brother Jack McDuff.....
Just for starters, Funk, Funk, Funk........... Funk me up !!!
Got any more ????
Any other Jazz-Funk Albums that I should be listening to ??
Any Charles Earland fans out there ???
What's he been up to lately ???
He will also be doing a jazz cruise in october. this is the trird year for this. he gave me a greatlive recording of his group in tokyo, which is on the burning sounds label.he told me that a lot of his milesstone catalog has been reissued on cd. Leaving This Planet, Black Talk, etc. he also did a reunion concert with the Black Talk artists, Houston Person et al. they recorded it.
Any MF's (Miles Fans) on this board ?
Miles = afro-polyrythmic-supernasty-pure FUNK.... for the PEOPLE !!!
Hey, did you know that about a half-dozen of '70s Miles albums are getting reissued on CD this coming May? According to Cuscuna in his recent *P jazz chat!
Can hardly wait to pick up GET UP WITH IT and BLACK MAGUS-- if those are indeed among the reissues. Do you have those on LP or import CD already? What do you
think of 'em?
Since it’s election day......I’m voting for Miles today !!
I still haven't heard the album, so I'll be looking forward to its reissue here in the States....
I agree with ya bout the James Brown thang !!
Count me in !
I dig Agartha also
He knew that it was far more important to teach “James Brown fans” (like me) the entire history of jazz, blues & rock all on one instrumental album on which not one word was uttered. Songs like “Mr. Freedom X”, “Black Satin”, “New York Girl” are jams which can on some level be compared to “Say It Loud” ......they are in your face and confrontational. They force the listener to think about Africa and America, just as “Say It Loud” does. This is a connection that “jazz experts” sometimes do not wish to be confronted with.
I’m emotionally still “On The Corner” !!
didn't mean it to be. I'd immediately think, "Hey! You GOT IT!!" Some great jams and mind-boggling interplay on OTC. No wonder that many older jazz fans have never been able to accept the stuff, but it makes me sad that such people can't at least recognize how Miles reconnected with the ROOTS of
black music in this period. I wonder if JB heard this album,and what he might've thought?
The show was at the Syria Mosque (a large “acusticly perfect” auditorium seating around 3,500) in 1974. Miles was the opening act for Herbie Hancock who at that time was flying high with the big hit record “Chameleon”. Kevin, myself and about 10 of our friends who were also “MF’s” “prepared for the show” and then got there early. There were several hundred “MF’s” at the show that we knew and it was obvious they had “prepared” as well. I guess one of the biggest surprises to me was the fact that I saw some of the city's“Black Elite” (atheletes, entertainers, politicians, etc) in attendence at the show. I was shocked that many of this folks were in to Miles Davis “jazz-funk”, but it pleased me none the less.
We had all heard all of the stories about how outragious Miles was in concert and were prepared to see him do anything from spit at the audience to playing with his back turned.
He did neither, when he came out he looked like an “African King”.....played the trumpet “hunched over”.....he also had a small keyboard right next to him which he played occasionally.
Miles was backed up on that evening by:
Reggie Lucas - Guitar
Micheal Henderson - Bass
Sonny Fortune - Sax
Mtume - Percussion
Al Foster - Drums
(Somebody help me out here !!!)
I don’t remember the names of the songs played that night, but all of the stuff was from “On the Corner”, “Get Up With It” & “Big Fun”.
I sat there in sheer amazement as I watched the "master" go to work. It was a 90 min. workout of pure unadulterated FUNK
Miles himself didn't say one damn word (neither the group or the songs were introduced) during the whole show !!
To this day....it's the "best concert I ever saw" !!
About the late ‘60s thru early ‘70s JB’s: what are some peak recordings that you would recommend? Didn’t a CD of a performance in Paris get released a few years back? How’s that one?
What did Reggie say and do that was so strange? Did he seem a little too "prepared" for the evening?