Get Ready for Jazz-Funk Dynamos Rock Candy Funk Party!
It’s time for some jazz-funk boogie! We’re counting down the days ’til the next Rock Candy Funk Party album goes on sale and I could not BE more excited! For those of you new to the Joe Bonamassa scene, Rock Candy Funk Party is an incredible side project that Joe is involved with. The band is composed of founder, producer and drummer Tal Bergman, who you might recognize from Joe Bonamassa’s touring band, guitarists Joe Bonamassa and Ron Dejesus, and Mike Merritt on the bass. They are an incredible contemporary take on the jazz-funk genre that was pioneered by artists like Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. The band’s roots may be in the 70s and 80s, but their sound is right now, hot, and most of all funky. I LOVE this band. The grooves are tight, the arrangements crisp, and the improvisation is smokin’! The album is available for Pre-Order now, which you can find here! The official on-sale date is July 31, 2015, and it can’t get here soon enough as far as I’m concerned!
To bring you up to speed or give you a quick refresher, Rock Candy Funk Party’s first album was the jazz-funk tour de force We Want Groove and was followed up with a live set from one of New York City’s hot spots for live music, The Iridium, Rock Candy Funk Party Takes New York – Live at the Iridium. Both albums are counted among my very favorites. The music is an expression of pure joy, built from a mutual love of music in the spirit of great fun. The attitude is completely infectious, and it’s the kind of album you can play during parties or listen to with headphones and yield equally great rewards.
In honor of the festive occasion of the upcoming release of their newest jazz-funk album, Groove Is King – I’ve only heard tiny snippets, but I can tell you my excitement level is through the roof – I thought I’d take you on a little musical tour to help get you ready for this thrilling occasion! Here are some records you might want to listen to to get you in the spirit of the music:
1. Miles Davis, Miles Davis, Miles Davis! I was going to recommend you listen to one Miles Davis record. Then it grew to two, then three, and then four, so I’m just going to recommend that you listen to lots and lots of Miles Davis to sink your teeth into the deep jazz roots of Rock Candy Funk Party. Miles Davis is one of the great musical innovators of the twentieth century, and his mark on jazz, including jazz-funk, cannot possibly be overstated. He invented or refined so many styles of jazz music it’s hard to keep track of them all. One of my favorite albums of all time also happens to be probably the best selling jazz album of all time, Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue. Considered by many to be his magnum opus, the record is a scintillating, breathtaking force of horn, piano, and rhythm. The tracks are mellow and deeply moving, treading on modal progressions rather than on the breakneck paced chord changes of so much jazz that came before it. After that legendary album, Miles Davis continued to innovate, until he came to a whole new revolutionary vision of jazz, the fusion of his late 1960s and early 1970s albums like In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew. One of the albums with the greatest influence on Rock Candy Funk Party, however, is We Want Miles, a direct inspiration for their debut album We Want Groove. The album was released in May of 1982 and features an awesome blend of jazz-fusion and jazz-funk. A double live album, the record features mostly all-original Davis compositions plus one DuBose Heyward and George Gershwin composition, the album’s longest track, clocking in at 20:12. It features some jazz heavy hitters in addition to Davis, including bass guitar master Marcus Miller and sax man Bill Evans (not the same as piano man Bill Evans, who played on Kind of Blue). This Grammy-winning album is a must-hear in the jazz-funk genre without a doubt.
2. Herbie Hancock – Head Hunters – Herbie Hancock is another jazz legend that helped shape the genre of jazz-funk. For awhile he was part of Miles Davis’ band. He released a series of more experimental albums in the early 1970s, but then began searching for an earthier, more grounded sound. Hancock loved the funk music that was emanating from artists such as Sly Stone, and decided to incorporate it into his brand of jazz. Head Hunters is a seminal album in the jazz-funk genre. One interesting fact about the album is that, unlike some prior Hancock albums and the electric-era Miles Davis albums, there is no guitar present on Head Hunters. Instead, the lineup features Hancock on electric piano, clavinet, and various synthesizers, Bennie Maupin on winds, Paul Jackson on the bass, Bill Summers on percussion – including the beer bottle – and Harvey Mason on drums. Maupin especially creates some phenomenal sheets of sound on the album’s third track, the heavy-hitting “Sly.” The album’s first track, “Chameleon” has become a standard in the repertoire and has become a cover favorite of an incredibly diverse and highly respected group of artists, including funk legend Maceo Parker, drummer extraordinaire Buddy Rich, and jam band scene favorites Gov’t Mule, The String Cheese Incident, and Umphrees McGee. “Watermelon Man,” the second track on the album, is also a standard in the repertoire but was originally composed as a hard bop era piece from Hancock’s debut album, Takin’ Off. This rerecording of the song is under the heavy influence of artists like hardest working man in show business, the Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown, as well as the aforementioned Sly Stone. Despite its name, “Vein Melter” is a slower jam that proves funk ain’t just for grooving on the dance floor, but also in the bedroom, if you know what I mean. All in all, this record is a fantastic listen.
Want more groove? Need to further funkify your life? Never fear, dear Bona-friends, for there is more to come soon in “Jazz-Funk Boogie: Get Ready for Rock Candy Funk Party! Part 2” coming soon to this very blog!
– Brian R.
Images belong to the Public Domain