Taken from Beck’s highly influential 1976 jazz-funk-rock-fusion LP, Wired. Enjoy!
Brooklyn, New York
(The Royal Potato Family)
“Jazz drenched, circuit bent, yes-wave”
TigerFace is a leap forward for left-field composer Marco Benevento. Benevento’s most recent drop opens with an anthemic promise to the wave of “yes” that is shooting through the dance-pop underworld of New York City.
Wildly riveting opener “Limbs of a Pine” reminds us of the pianist’s inclination toward quirky melodic excursions and dynamic rhythms. It is one of two songs that features vocals (a rarity for Benevento). Rubblebucket’s Kalmia Traver’s monotone, slightly distilled voice beats against a slew of synthesized jabs, mutilated samples of horns and guitars, and the enigmatic sounds of Benevento’s excitably quirky brain. It’s the kind of song that gets you bobbing along without your permission, nuzzling its way into your head and then surprising you with something new.
The rest of the record walks a fine line between compact dance-pop and jammy electro-jazz-rock. In “Eagle Rock,” Benevento beautifully melts sweeping symphonies into wandering-hand piano melodies.
Overall, TigerFace is a revolving door of fun energy, joy, and laughter. While it doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head as a start-to-finish record, it is a welcome first wave of “yes” for Benevento as he continues to define himself as a musician.
Recorded at East West Studios, Los Angeles, by Tom Biller
Mixed by Bryce Goggin, Chris Bittner and Tom Biller
Mastered by Josh Bonati at Bonati Mastering
Happy Funk Friday y’all!
Today’s blast from the funktorious past comes courtesy of Herbie Hancock. In 1973, Double H dropped one of the most funktastic jazz records of all time, Head Hunters. This was a pretty big leap forward in jazz fusion, and really influenced the landscape of ’70s instrumental rock and funk. Acts as diverse as Jeff Beck and Steely Dan all benefited from Head Hunters’ influence, and below you’ll find a clip for side one, track one.
Enjoy the video for “Chameleon” above and click here to learn more about this must-have album.
Following the success of The Civil War and Baseball, Ken Burns and PBS released Jazz, a sterilized institutional treatise for mass consumption that harkened back to the “good ol’ days” of jazz. Pushing forth the “neo-classical agenda” of people like Stanley Crouch and Wynton Marsalis, the documentary only dedicated a fraction of the series to music made in the latter half of the 20th century.
Unfortunately, the format presented the medium as a dead “museum music,” to quote Miles Davis. A decade on, enter Icons Among Us. Lars Larson, Michael Rivoira, Peter J. Vogt have created a spectacular piece of documentary filmmaking that showcases some of the most innovative and daring artists in jazz including Terence Blanchard, Ravi Coltrane, Robert Glasper, Nicholas Payton, Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Donald Harrison Jr., Anat Cohen, Esperanza Spalding, and Medeski Martin and Wood, talking about several topics including economics, influences, tradition, innovation and philosophy. Unlike the aforementioned Jazz, the film showcases various (often divergent) viewpoints and repeatedly questions what jazz actually is and how it fits into the socioeconomic climate of the 21st century. For anyone interested in the history of one of America’s original mediums or the future of progressive music, the film is a must see.
“Seductive jazz and refreshing Afrobeat”
Our nation’s capital has a funk and jazz scene that is flourishing like springtime cherry blossoms. Enter sailing winds and The Funk Ark: an eight-piece band brewing up a funky, textured storm with their debut From the Rooftops. For a starter, the guys open up with the mellow “A Blade Won’t Cut Another Blade,” which sounds fit for a slow-paced Cowboy Bebop episode. It gets more enticing with “Diaspora,” which darkens the mood, but retains the delight. The big hit of From the Rooftops is “Funky DC,” which features local eclectic rock band Sitali, and Asheru, a hip-hop artist popularly known for contributing the badass theme for The Boondocks animated series. With their powers combined, listeners are taken on a lyrically funkadelic voyage with the proud final destination being Washington. While the stronger tracks are mainly in the beginning and the end (closer “Power Struggle” is unbeatable), throughout the entire album, The Funk Ark sports their worldly knowledge of heavy jazz and Afrobeat elements, while also sharing their Latin and Caribbean influences.
One of the toughest things for funk bands is steering clear from incessant repetition that you find at most tedious jam band affairs or the generic poser punk show. At times The Funk Ark seems to slip away, but immediately they regain their composure and get right back on track. Fierce solos, exuberant horns and diverse beats boil down to a formidable debut. (ESL Music)
Produced by Will Rast, Jeff Ranca and Chris Garrett
Mastered by Gianmaria Conti
Recorded and Engineered at ESL Music
The New Mastersounds
Breaks from the Border
“Attention DJs, sample this NOW!”
The New Mastersounds are quite simply pure untouchable funky fire. Imagine digging through crates in a record store and stumbling upon a flawless break record that no one has ever heard or sampled before. The New Mastersounds are a group from Leeds who play soul infused instrumental break music. Cover to cover, their latest release plays out with funky flawlessness. Bassist Peter Shand keeps the bottom end locked down with drummer Simon Allen while Eddie Roberts and Joe Tatton keep the energy alive on guitar and keys, respectively.
Breaks from the Border marks the first time the group has added vocals to their original music. Mostly this really just works through as small group vocal parts and slight accents to the already churned up groove the band creates. With the neo-soul scene starting to gain some momentum in the States, The New Mastersounds are a group that we might be hearing a whole lot more from. This is a must own for old-school soul fans, anyone who owns Super Fly on 180-gram vinyl, and hip-hop beat junkies looking for the next great sample source. (Tallest Man Records)
Produced by Eddie Roberts
Mastered by John Cuniberti
Recorded at Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, TX
Marco Benevento is always great to see live. He was perfectly placed in the middle of the day, when the sun is shining bright and everyone could see that big goofy grin on his face. It’s just too bad his set was so short, timing less than 45 minutes long. He came out onstage with armfuls of t-shirts to spread onto the crowd as he opened up with some of his best material like “Bus Ride” and “Greenpoint“. Marco’s bright, energetic music re-invigorated All Good audiences, a clean but easy break from the bluesy soul JJ Grey & MOFRO. With the same amount of soul behind him, Marco’s circuit bending, rock-oriented approach at piano continues to redefine contemporary jazz in refreshing and light-hearted ways.
journalism by M E G A L O M A N D E E
Nomadic Massive at Montreal’s International Jazz Festival // Montreal, QC // July 2, 2011
Global hip-hop has been on my radar for a while now. I was introduced to Montreal super-group Nomadic Massive in 2009 at NYC’s CMJ Music Marathon. Since then, I’ve only caught the 11-member orchestra in the States. When I heard they were booked four consecutive nights at Savoy du Metropolis in downtown Montreal during the city’s International Jazz Festival, I made up my mind to take the trip to catch the show.
If there’s any group that effortlessly epitomizes international hip-hop, it’s Nomadic Massive. The outfit is a composite of musicians, singers, and emcees from around the world who have come together under the cultural hotbed of the metropolis to promote hip-hop culture and social justice. Their four nights at Savoy included collaborations with other Montreal emcees like The Narcicyst and local roots group Groundfood.
I attended the second night of their residency. Doors opened at 11pm, and by half-past the club had stopped letting people in. By midnight, there was a line around the block. The group informed fans that the previous night they had made history – as 2,000 people were turned away from their show. Tonight was proving to be no different.
They opened up with some of their best material, starting the night by playfully teaching the crowd how to hold swagger and be stylish. Nomadic Massive is known for their playfulness and their energy. They make hip-hop accessible by showing the public that anyone, as long as they’re being the flyest, truest-to-themselves they can be, can find enlightenment by expressing themselves through this genre.
What I say energy, I mean energy. They never stop moving – dancing, running, jumping, joking with each other, or hyping the crowd. Nomadic Massive is an exercise in cardio, hip-hop that flexes your mind, body, and soul. The band members are multi-instrumentalists, and are all lyricists. They’re tight, well-rehearsed, and confident. From Super Fam to Sundance, the first hour of the night got the room sweltering.
Playing alongside Groundfood and Narcy, Nomadic Massive ended the night with a ’90s hip-hop revival. While jumping on and off stage, dancing with the crowd, and rapping from on top of amps, Nomadic Massive brought back Biggie, Mos Def, Black Star, The Fugees, J Dilla, and even Cypress Hill with clarity, honesty, and heart.
When I told them I came from Boston for one night, they couldn’t believe it. If you’ve ever felt what this kind of music makes you feel, you would have made the trip too.
words brought to you by M E G A L O M A N D E E
“Vintage small-combo jazz with a metallic undercurrent”
Testament, Alex Skolnick’s main gig, shares musical ground with Slayer and Megadeth – a far cry from the likes of Miles Davis and Charlie Parker. It’s not every day you see a thrash-metal guitarist choosing to focus his chops on jazz idioms, and such a risk could very easily be a huge blunder.
Thankfully, Skolnick proves as convincing a jazz guitarist as a metallic shredder, owing to his rigorous two-decade study of the genre. He employs smooth, liquid phrases and cadences, bebop-influenced color tones, and complex chord voicings at every turn. The many faces of Skolnick’s eclectic guitar palate are spotlighted on the well-rounded “Song of the Open Road,” the album’s highlight.
While Skolnick and his group (bassist Nathan Peck and drummer Matt Zebroski) don’t reinvent the jazz wheel with Veritas, the album also cannot be considered a pure jazz record. As if the inclusion of a rendition of Metallica’s “Fade to Black” weren’t a tip-off, Veritas fuses sophisticated jazz theory with the more straightforward elements of heavy rock.
For instance, “Bollywood Jam” plays out as a weird, subdued style of metal, its riffs in a familiar metallic minor-key, coupled with mystical, Eastern guitar ambience; the characteristic swing beat so common in jazz is absent from the music.
Other tracks such as “99/09” could pass for jazz standards, with dissonant chord comps, steady walking bass passages and an equal emphasis on melodic and chordal guitar styles. The contrast between certain tracks may be jarring for some listeners, but those with an open mind will find an intriguing exploration of the territory shared by jazz and metal. (Palmetto Records)
Produced by Alex Skolnick Trio // Recorded at Spin Music Studios, Long Island, NY // Engineered by Nik Chinboukas // Mixed by Nik Chinboukas except “Bollywood Jam Remix,” co-mixed by Jay Sustain // Mastered by Maurice Gainen
Produced by the Yellowjackets
Recorded at Firehouse Recording Studies
Mixed and Mastered at Dogmatic Sound
Assistant Engineer: Ed Wooley
As one of the longest lasting bands in jazz, the Yellowjackets have a pretty diverse catalog. That’s not always a good thing; the band, among others, has in the past have tread way too heavily into the scourge upon jazz from which the genre is only now recovering: smooth-jazz.
Fortunately, on the newest release with second drummer Will Kennedy (who was unfortunately a culprit in some of their dubious releases) doesn’t tread that territory. The recording is inspired and even features an appearance from original member Robben Ford (on “Magnolia,”) even if it doesn’t reach the grooving heights of some of their more recent albums like Mint Jam, 25 or Lifecycle.
“Why Is It,” is the obvious standout cut on the album anchored by a deep pocket and propelled by an accessible melody. The odd time “Like Elvin,” also brings the group to a progressive musically adventurous territory. The remaining cuts (excepting perhaps Ford’s appearance) are more of historical note and of possible interest to musicians as the music isn’t exactly blazing new sonic territory. Nevertheless, as a document in the can from one of the longest running bands in the history of jazz, it’s worth a listen. By Joe Lang