10 essential Jazz Funk classics Part 3… Like always, a selection is per definition limited, and God knows how the groove would definitely not have sounded the same without the regular experimentations which have paved its way… Such as back in the 70’s when Jazz came to integrate Funk, Soul or Disco along with analog synthesized sounds. As a result, many are the gems we couldn’t talk about here, even though they would definitely have deserved a mention.
You obviously enjoyed our part 1, which we deeply appreciate. With the same applying to our Part 2 of the likes. Here we go then with its follow-up. No need to say how, as usual, this selection is way from being exhaustive. Most likely due to find a third round when the right time comes. Nevertheless, you should find thereafter a pretty much illustrative sample of highly energetic jams where the infectiousness of the groove predominates.
Wishing you’ll enjoy the ride as much as we did, while putting this together for you. With your feedback, and a mention of your favorite song more than welcome.
A trumpeter, composer, bandleader and educator, Donaldson Toussaint L’Ouverture Byrd II came to score one of his biggest successes back in 1975. This on Blue Note with the release of the seminal ‘Places And Spaces’ produced by the Mizell brothers.. An album that spanned the memorable ‘Change (Makes You Want To Hustle)’ which inspired UK outfit Funky Worm in the late 80’s. But also ‘(Falling Like) Dominoes’. Itself influencing artists such as Stetsasonic, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince and Carleen Anderson who eventually sampled it.
James Brown most likely spent his life reinventing himself. With thanks to the countless talents who happened to surround him. Beginning with Pee Wee Ellis. He put out the first Funk track ever by the likes of ‘Cold Sweat’ back in 1967. Three years later, he would come up with the influential ‘Funky Drummer’. A track which happened to be the most sampled beat in Hip-Hop. No less!
A songwriter, an arranger, a producer, also able to sing and play keyboard and synths, Alphonse Mouzon‘s legacy embraces the Jazz-fusion scene and way beyond.
The final cut of his 1981 released album of the likes, the atmospheric ‘By All Means’ sees him surrounded by an impressive array of luminaries. From Herbie Hancock to Freddie Hubbard, Lee Ritenour and Paul Jackson. Not to mention Jerry Hey, Larry Williams and Larry Tim.
A British Jazz/Funk band, Atmosfear saw the light back in 1979. They consisted of bassist and keyboardist Lester J. Batchelor, drummer Ray Johnson, guitarist Andy Sojka, saxophonist Stewart Cawthorne, and producer Jerry Pike. Not to mention singer Antony Antoniou who joined’em the year after.
‘Dancing In Outer Space’, their 1979 debut-single, remains their most famous gem ever. Even though other cuts worth the listen followed such as ‘Motivation’ and ‘Xtra Special’. ‘Dancing In Outer Space’ eventually resurfaced back in 1997 with remixes courtesy of Masters At Work.
Not much can be said about the transient Pamoja. With the reasons for this almost speakin’ for themselves as a matter of fact. The brainchild of Chicagoan Keith Stevenson and his former wife only recording this one release back in 1975. And putting it out on Keith’s own Keiper Production label. It nevertheless obviously made its way through. With thanks to the haunting vocals of ‘Oooh Baby’ and its killer drum mix. Eventually resurfacing 30 years later on US indie label Lotus Land.
A native of Norristown, PA, Jimmy Smith pretty much contributed popularizing the famous Hammond B-3 electric organ. Born in the second half of the 20’s, he released more than 100 albums until the date of hios passing, back on Feb. 08, 2005 in Scottsdale, AZ. Meanwhile exposing countless facets of his art. With the intoxicating ‘Give Up The Booty’ – one of the highlights of his 1977 ‘Sit On It’ album – seeing him jamming along with Herbie Hancock on piano and Lenny White on drums…
A Detroit, MI native, Earl Klugh has established himself among the finest acoustic guitar players ever. Givin’ the full illustration of his talent back in 1981 on the infectious ‘Twinkle’. One of the highlights of his ‘Crazy For You’ album. Meanwhile sharing the bill with Louis Johnson on bass. But also Greg Phillinganes (electric piano, synthesizer) and Paulinho Da Costa (percussion). This with production work courtesy of Dave Grusin.
Pleasure saw the light in Portland, OR back in 1972. This from the reunion between local outfits Franchise and The Soul Masters. With both of them comprising members who’d been friend since their childhood. They eventually came to the attention of The Crusaders‘ producer Wayne Henderson during a live performance. The latter bringing them to sign a deal with Fantasy and eventually produce their 4 first albums.
The opening cut from their 1977 album of the likes, ‘Joyous’ has been sampled by an impressive array of luminaries along with time. From Daft Punk (‘All Around The World’ to Janet Jackson (‘Free Xone’). Not to mention Eric B & Rakim (‘Let The Beat Hit’Em’). Or Public Enemy (‘Leave This Off Your Fu*kin Charts’ to name but a few.
I gotta pay my props to José Padilla for havin’ brought DTTB to my attention during one of my stayings at his home in Ibiza by the end of the 90’s. I remember I instantly stumbled upon the toxicity of their ‘Staten Island Groove’ at the time. With its brilliant sax hook along with a stellar vibe part over a rumblin’ bass driven rhythm pattern. The whole progressively turnin’ into an obsessive atmospheric affair as time goes. Meanwhile standing among my all time favs.
Last, but certainly not least! The relatively obscure The Spirit Of Atlanta, responsible for the 1973 released ‘The Burning Of Atlanta’. An album the title of which comes as an echo to General William Sherman‘s order to get the capital of Georgia into ashes back in 1864. This after it had served as a hub of war supplies for the Confederate Army. Meant to be the soundtrack of a film of the likes that never saw the light at the end. Buddah Records nevertheless releasing the album in 1973. The latter featuring countless goodies beginning with the firing ‘Messin’ Around’.
The Spirit Of Atlanta happened to be no one else but the renamed group of drummer G.C. Coleman. A man himself renowned for the most sampled drum break in the history of music – the Amen break – back in 1969. Which didn’t get him from tragically dying homeless back in April 2006.