One thing that seems to be a constant in funk,both during its process on up through present day,is its strong connections to Latin America. In particular Brazil,whose polyrhythmic Afro-Latin percussion rhythms were part of the foundation of the genre. So it makes sense that the massive cross pollination of funk,jazz and Afro-Latin percussion coming out of and through Brazil would continue to spawn artists creating from within that expansive musical spectrum. One musician who emerged from that talent pool during the new millennium is Rio’s Ed Motta. This singer/songwriter/multi instrumentalist has connections into music far deeper than recording. And today I am going to talk about a song from his newest album,2013’s AOR called “Dondi”. And I wound like to thank my Facebook friend (and funkateer) Andrew Osterov of Kiev,Ukraine for introducing this song to me.
The song starts off with the traditional neo soul device of the sound of scratchy vinyl before going into a concise,highly melodic jazz/funk groove. Musically the song is built around a drum line and chordal changes that lay somewhere between the approach of George Duke and Stevie Wonder-a full on appropriation of funky soul and jazz that seems to be feeding into both styles. The instrumentation is hard hitting,yet gentle and coaxing as the big voiced Motta talks things out with his lady love about how they might want to consider more romance and less merely talking of it. Accended by flute accents and big popping slap bass between the choruses,the song has a strong major/minor chord bridge with David T. Walker’s fluid,virtuoso guitar taking a strong solo on the songs outro.
As with a lot of “nu funk” that I’ve come to be acquainted with,Ed Motta was an artist who came to me via Wax Poetics magazine-the only funk musician oriented periodical that I know of to be in existence. This particular song not only embodies all of the qualities that drew me to the funk/soul spectrum of music,but the qualities of it that I try to extol to others to get an introduction to this music. As with Eumir Deodato before him,Ed Motta brings Brazilian melodic and rhythm flavors to a highly singable pop-funk-jazz sound on this song. And very much in the attitude of the post Prince years? Motta is a DIY multi instrumentalist who also maintains a band with a stripped down yet expansive instrumental sound. However,simply the fact that this instrumentally crackerjack type of funky music will have most people humming along says a great deal for the songs virtues. And outside all of that,Motta is an avid vinyl record collector-understanding his music from both a listener’s and instrumentalists perspective. That makes him potentially one of the most well rounded DIY artists in the funk/soul/jazz spectrum today.