Posts Tagged 'groove music'

Funk Prelude by Funktion

Groove scientists Funktion

Kalamazoo funk maestros Funktion have dropped an impressive debut CD that is as well crafted as it is enjoyable. The band is known for their high energy live shows and slamming covers of songs by James Brown, Kool and the Gang, Parliament, and others. Funk Prelude ups the ante and marks a major step forward in the band’s evolution. The debut is a refined studio recording of surprisingly strong original material. On it we hear a maturing group with a rootsy funk sound that is really starting to gel. Funktion has harnessed their vibrant live mojo to produce an eclectic batch of solid tunes that grow on the listener.

This band does not fake the funk. One can hear the classic elements of great funk music here. Tight syncopated rhythms, playful upbeat grooves, soulful vocals, jazzy overtones, sophisticated arrangements, expressive solos, and contagious horn parts are all here. As the dust settles and history weighs in, Funk music will no doubt be seen as the highly innovative, enjoyable, and important artistic achievements that it is. This band is definitely doing their part to keep this under appreciated art form alive. They are paying homage to the form and its roots while forging their own unique sound. In doing so Funktion is blazing a fast path to join the ranks of contemporary funk artists like Galactic, the Greyboy All Stars, Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, and the parade of talent on the Daptone label.

Funk Prelude is a solid debut from one of the most impressive live acts in the region. Having said that, the band has a ways to go to ascend to the level of the classic funk masters. Funk greats like Sly Stone, Stevie Wonder, George Clinton, and James Brown had a socially conscious sophistication to much of their best work that seems to be somewhat lacking on the dancing and romancing tunes found here. Still Funktion nails the fun factor, and turning out a party has always been the foundation of funk. This is a tight knit group of talented musicians that have been working very, very hard to take their music to the next level. They have succeeded strongly here and the future is wide open with possibilities. Funk Prelude shows that Funktion is more than just a funk cover band. They are original artists applying tasty musicianship and stellar chemistry to unique sounding music that is genuinely funky. Its a shame there are not more bands around like them.

“Single File” by Half Pint Jones

Local homies Half Pint Jones.

Half-Pint Jones is one of the more promising original groups to come out of Michiana in recent years has. Hot on the Heels of their infectious debut CD “Trilogy of Patches and Olaf”, these funky jammers have released their follow up CD entitled “Single File”. A marked departure from the spirited first album, this CD features shorter radio friendly tracks that have a bit more polish and compositional edge to them. The album does succeed in evolving their eclectic sound and moving their songwriting style forward but leaves some of the free wheeling funkiness behind in the process. Form outweighs feeling here, which is in direct contrast to their previous release. The fun and laid back approach to music they nailed on “Trilogy” gets distracted by more structured efforts that don’t always justify the trade off. Still the album works on the whole and shows the band has some new tricks up their sleeve.

Some of the tunes here grow on you and really shine. The songwriting and sound are growing up big but are clearly still maturing. This band has a unique musical style all their own. Great horn arrangements, soulful vocals, tight musicianship, and an eclectic groove palette are setting them apart form the crowd. It is their live chemistry though they need to keep kindled as they move into future recording efforts. On “Single File” the band’s jammy mojo is kept in the background sneaking around like a skilled ninja who infiltrated the wrong party. While still a party, the ninja has neither reason nor time to kick butt.

Half-Pint Jones deserves credit for trying something new with this album. It is nice too to see they did not try to remake the first album and are indeed evolving artistically. On their new CD they have taken another solid step towards fulfilling their vast musical potential. So many musical styles fluidly fuse into a tight batch of crafted songs here. At the same time though, they have taken a step away from some of what makes this group so magical. This CD is kind of a musical switchback in a different direction in order to get higher up the musical hill. It is a transitional album that leaves me wondering what musical mountains they will climb tomorrow. It’s a solid yet imperfect effort that left me wanting more in both good ways and bad.