Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Funk Friday - NOLA Edition - February 17th 2012

Hey Y'all!

In honor of Mardi Gras next week I've decided to dedicate this week's Funk Friday to New Orleans-style funk music: A big, raw, noisy and sustained genre of The Funk that is characterized by its loyalty to the very roots of the New Orleans Jazz scene, specifically its use of brass instruments and band leaders that simultaneously front and orchestrate a league of backing musicians.

The NOLA style's unmistakable swing and overtly rhythmic sound have allowed for an international appreciation of artists like The Meters, The Neville Brothers, Allen Toussaint and Eddie Bo. I've featured The Meters & Eddie Bo in the past, but here's a great rare-funk track from some NOLA style all-stars and a couple from the new heavyweights of the genre.

1. Earl King - Tic Tac Toe

This is a delicious piece of New Orleans-style Funk from NOLA R&B legend Earl King. King, better known for his compositions covered by popular musicians like Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, recorded this rare 45' from 1970 with the help of producer Allen Toussaint and The Meters as his backing band. Drummer Zigaboo Modeliste and guitarist Leo Nocentelli's funky fingerprints are all over this track; a simplistic but noteworthy collaboration from the libraries of Toussaint, The Meters and King.

2. Soul Rebels Brass Band - My Time

Continuing the tradition of the New Orleans Brass band into today's decidedly amorphous musical environment, the Soul Rebels Brass Band employ a cutting-edge version of the NOLA style, meshing Funk, Jazz, Hip Hop and R&B, making for an eclectically explosive listening experience. Since Katrina, the band has garnered international attention for bringing awareness to the devastation of their hometown, with appearances in HBO's NOLA-based "Treme" and Discovery Channel's "After the Catch" and a full touring slate including a set at the 2012 Bonnaroo festival in Manchester, Tennessee.

3. Big Sam's Funky Nation - Big Ole Booty

Big Sam Williams is a true ambassador for NOLA style Funk the world over. Having seen him twice, once at Austin's SXSW music festival and most recently this summer, headlining the Toronto Beaches Jazz Festival, Big Sam and his Funky Nation are the undisputed champions of the hard working funk band. His shows are big, loud, long funk parties, the way that NOLA style funk parties should be. Here' s one of the better examples of Big Sam's sweat-drenched, booty shaking jams.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Funk Friday - February 10th 2012

1. Esperanza Spalding - Black Gold

You might recognize Esperanza Spalding as the winner of the Best New Artist award at the 2011 Grammys (beating out Justin Bieber and Drake). What you might not know is that she is a highly accomplished musician and academic, having taught at the Berklee College of music and travelled all over the world with four albums under her belt. Oh yeah, and she's only 27 years old. This is her latest single, a funky slice of neo-soul off her upcoming album "Radio Music Society".

2. BADBADNOTGOOD - Electric Relaxation

Toronto Hip-Hop Jazz trio BADBADNOTGOOD have been steadily building buzz and an intensely loyal fan base for themselves ever since posting a cryptic but headbangingly-original Jazz-Funk cover of a track from the now infamous Hip-Hop collective Odd Future back in April of 2010. Comprised of three friends from Humber College's Music program, BBNG have found themselves mentioned in the same sentence as big names like Flying Lotus, at the forefront of the post-modern Hip-Hop scene in North America. This is their silky, funky, dark cover of A Tribe Called Quest's "Electric Relaxation". Addictive stuff.

3. Eddie Hazel - Physical Love
A spacey, jammed out track off of legendary Funkadelic guitarist Eddie Hazel's 1977 LP "Game, Dames & Guitar Thangs." Up there with Hendrix as one of the greatest black lead guitarists ever, Hazel is known for his explosive work with George Clinton and the P-Funk gang, but this album in particular showcases Hazel at his best, layering tight grooves on top of wild, facemelting guitar work. A fantastic LP, especially on Vinyl.