|Dr Hypenstein – Redtenbacher’s Funkestra
Funk lovers everywhere may already be acquainted with Stefan Redtenbacher’s ‘Funkestra’, featuring Stefan himself on bass and a host of familiar names on other instruments, including educator extraordinaire, Mike Sturgis.
Absolutely rammed with funky bass lines, exciting horn figures and some outstanding drumming, this is a really top funk album.
It starts uptempo with a flute playing melody and from here the album continues in an upward trajectory with some absolutely fantastic grooves and melodies.
Things get a little heavier by track 5, “Swagger”; with more of a rock guitar riff and heavy drums with a nice reverb before settling back into an uptempo groove again.
The bass line on “Cave Canem” especially made me smile as the tone and groove are just pure classic funk, alongside some great horn playing.
There’s a little bit of a disco vibe on “Bassbulator” which you can’t help but get into, driving the car, washing the dishes, walking the dog; doesn’t matter where you are you will just have to move as it’s infectiously groovy!
As far as song titles go, this album also has some gems, add to previously mentioned “Bassbulator” the excellent “Bassface”, “Macho Matchup” and “Tower of TNT”.
It’s a great album and almost too much funk (if there could be such a thing) by the end of all 13 tracks, but I guess on the flip side you could just say it’s value for money.
London’s 606 Club gets a special mention inside the sleeve and I can imagine seeing these guys in that dark and moody jazz club would be a fantastic night’s entertainment, I’ll certainly be keeping my eye out for them playing live.
Wooden Hat Records
Grounded – Connected
This release from Connected, featuring Glasgow based drummer Chris Whitehouse, is a quartet album featuring Chris, Jonathan Edwards on sax, Stephen Maxwell on guitar and Euan Taylor on the electric bass, recorded during Chris’ fourth year at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
When it comes to jazz Chris is a passionate guy with a deep love of the genre and that comes across in this record, although there is the occasional nod to other musical influences in there. In fact there is a bass line in the second track that wouldn’t be out of place on a Muse record!
In true jazz fashion, there are no songs on this record short enough for the modern commercial radio station and each song really does try to take you on a journey.
I rather enjoyed the third track on the album called “Yes, and?” The progression from more relaxed vibes into something a little more urgent was nicely done and came through well.
We’re treated to an enjoyable piece of guitar and sax at the start of the fourth track, “Two Four One” which features some sparse melodic playing from Chris before things again pick up tempo somewhat.
The album continues with some more nice ideas on all instruments but in particular I liked the intro groove from “The Wasp”, a track with a slightly funkier vibe and “I’m Fine Thanks” has a fun, up tempo groove with some interesting time ideas to it.
An enjoyable listen, this is an album for jazz enthusiasts, Chris says inside the sleeve that all the musicians have come a long way since this recording; I look forward to hearing their future material.
Stand Up – PB Underground
Having played with Incognito and Level 42, The PB Underground is an original funk/soul group led by the drummer Pet Ray Biggin.
It’s a very groovy album, as you might expect and Pete not only plays drums but was also involved in the writing of the songs, arranging the horns and oversaw the production. It’s a great example of a drummer leading his own outfit and getting involved in all aspects of the creative process, from the initial song writing up to the production of a fine album!
I feel a special mention needs to go to the design of the disc, this is one vinyl record that you can play in a CD player!
From a musical standpoint the tracks are both satisfying in terms of the musical composition; with catchy melodies and lyrics you can sing along to as well as some room for the musicians to stretch. It’s an easy listen but the surprises keep coming which is great.
Highlights for me especially include “Dance Dance Dance” which almost has a funky house vibe to it; this is band that will definitely have the crowd dancing at a show. A special mention also has to go the cover of “Drop It” by Snoop Dog. It’s a completely different rendition of a song you’ll probably recognise and if there was a song on this album that really showcases Pete’s chops, this would be it.
A really enjoyable album and very accessible, I feel it crosses the boundaries between some of the more popular urban genre’s while at the same time retaining some more traditional funk ideas that those who are familiar with funk music will appreciate.