Monday, December 20, 2010

Baaad Jazz 1-Funk Inc

 originally posted 3.30.07
Don't get me wrong I've got a good share of "real jazz" records in my collection. Blue Note, Impulse,Prestige, Verve, and Bluebird are all amongst my favorite labels of all time. For many those labels produced the records that are the standards by which jazz is judged. Buyers and critics alike (not everyone)pretty much dismiss records that came out after 1965. I know what I like in classic jazz, but I find a hard time reviewing it because I feel unqualified. I just don't know enough about music theory to comment. As jazz has continued to grow and folks have continued to push the boundaries, it has for the most part left me in the dust. I can catch glimpses of brilliance, but most of todays Jazz soars over my head.
Songs From Funk Inc (1971)

After cutting edge jazz pushed beyond mass appeal in the 60's, and rock took over the world, musicians pretty much had to try to fit in or find new lines of work. Local jazz scenes that once thrived (Newark,Detroit,Indianapolis) were on the way out. Some players made moves to rock (Miles,McLaughlin)and ended up crossing over pretty well, over time gaining a little respect from the critics. Other players went more into a soul/blues/funk bag and were generaly reviled by the jazz press.
Tunes from Chicken Lickin' (1972)

The soul jazz crowd may have been the precursor of today's mostly treacley smooth jazz, but when these guys were laying it down in the 70's it was not smooth, and as hip-hop heads and jam band aficionados have noted, there was a lot of sweat soaked, fun-filled, musically challenging, and downright funky music being created in what must have seemed like the death throes of Jazz at the time.

Tunes From Hangin Out (1973)

Funk Inc.
Congas -Cecil Hunt
Drums - Jimmy Munford
Guitar - Steve Weakley
Organ - Bobby Watley
Saxophone [Tenor] - Eugene Barr
One group that exemplified that era for me is Funk Inc. Working with Organ,tenor,guitar,drums, and congas (killer congas I might add) in Blues based textures on 4 records from 71 to 74, Funk Inc. first fell into my lap during the acid jazz days of the 90's. There are a few very mellow, very 70's; vocal cuts, but the rest of these first 4 LP's are raw,dirty Jazz Funk, with strong blues guitar, swinging B-3, and banging funky drums.
If you are into Medeski,Martin, and Wood, you should check 'em out. If you are into hip hop, the drums from,"Kool Is Back" have been sampled into countless rap tracks from folks like DJ Shadow, Geto Boys,and Jeru tha Damaja. So despite their humble beginnings in Indianapolis,IN. Funk Inc. are still influencing and inspiring folks today.You won't find a whole lot about Funk Inc. in any jazz tomes and I didn't see anything on wikipedia either, but folks who study grooves know they are not to be missed.
Tunes From Superfunk (1973)

12.20.10 notes- Since I made this post both All Music Guide and wikipedia  (copied from All Music Guide) have entries for Funk Inc. I've also discovered there was a pretty sizable jazz scene in Indianapolis, but  more on that later. Funk Inc. recorded one other LP in the 70's:Priced to Sell, that isn't quite up to the standards of the initial 4 records and a comeback record in 1995 brought on by their support from the (also reviled...but to me crucial) Acid Jazz community. They are still gigging in one form or another.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was here. Cap