Tag Archives: multi instrumentalists

Anatomy of THE Groove: “For The Funk Of It” by Andre L. Parker

Andre L. Paker embodies the spirit of the lesser nationally known funk/soul/R&B based artists. Though not even apparently a major name in his native Danbury, Connecticut, Parker has performed with numerous bands and recorded 75 albums. These have run the gamut from R&B,jazz to heavy metal. Six years ago, one of Parker’s compositions entitled “Wo Wo Wo” was even played during the overnight forecasts on The Weather Channel. What makes Parker and his music so unique on Andresmusictalk is that he is a musician who actually contacted me.

He sent me a great deal of information on himself. About how he became a multi instrumentalist from the time his mother got him his first guitar at the age of 10. About his influences ranging from jazz drummer Max Roach to funk icon Sly Stone. Reading further into what he sent, he’s been online since about 2009 with a computer given to him a friend. And is very interested in me writing about his music. After looking through YouTube over the tracks from his upcoming triple set Bring Back The Funk, the song that most stood out to me as a funkateer was one entitled “For The Funk Of It”.

A thick one/two beat drum thump provides the basis for the song. Along with the pulsing synth bass and wah-wah guitar, this comes together to form the rhythmic basis for the song. Two extra rhythm guitar lines meet that rhythm during the next part of the song. One is a higher pitched strum and the other a more sustained acoustic line. Between each part, audience applause sounds provide a bridge. A whistling,almost G-Funk style synth melody comes into play on the last several bars of the song. And a combination of the applause and an electric guitar riff brings the song to a close.

What “For The Funk Of It” delivers to my personal ear hole is a musical concept of what I’d call a “one man jam”. That is a multi instrumentalist playing a consistent,melodic funk vamp that stays on the one. And doesn’t follow a strict pop song structure. And from hearing his other songs, Parker knows his way around pop structure. His approach to this is somewhere between P-Funk and Prince-with the multiple guitar parts and synth bass pump. Yet the vamp of the song has a hip-hop G Funk flavor to its rhythmic pattern. Excellent channeling from Andre L Parker of one generation of funk to another.

*To purchase music from Andre L. Parker,visit this page: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/andrelparker5 

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Anatomy of THE Groove: “Freaks For The Festival” by Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Rahsaan Roland Kirk, born Ronald Theodore in Columbus,Ohio, had a creative ethic strongly connected to his nigh time dreaming. That includes the two changes he made to his given name. As he started leading his own bands, his music grew from its hard bop roots to bring in elements of the avant garde and even older jazz styles such as ragtime. Kirk’s music also thematically explored the black power ethic of the 60’s-with a socially conscious comic wit that perhaps influenced 70’s funk era icons as George Clinton. As a multi instrumentalist, particularly with reed instruments, he was also a major innovator.

Blind from childhood due to a botched medical treatment, he developed a form of playing that has thematically broken records. It was known as circular breathing-which allowed him to sustain complex notes on saxophone almost indefinitely. Not to mention often playing three saxes at the same time. One album of his my father often playing parts of for me as a child was 1975’s The Case Of The 3 Sides Dream In Audio Color. It was a double album whose fourth side was largely empty saves for a sound snippet at the end. The song from it I’m talking about today though is called “Freaks At The Festival”.

Kirk’s rapping starts out the song before the ultra funky JB’s/Clyde Stubblefield style drum comes in-soon accompanied by Kirk’s bass sax melody. After this, his self made “one man horn section” accompanies the ever more flamboyant drumming, an amazing and complex funky electric jazz bass line. During the third chorus in, Kirk’s flute solo accompanies what I’m pretty sure is Richard Tee’s Fender Rhodes piano-with Kirk and the band exchange some their vocal raps. With some of the sax tones having some heavy fuzz peddle on them-all before everything comes to a big musical climax at the end.

“Freaks At The Festival” musically reminds me of what one might get if Cannonball Adderley,Art Ensemble Of Chicago and The JB’s all got together to do an avant funk record. The sound that the instrumentalists (who are hard to pin down due to crediting and my knowledge level at identifying musicians) is alternately controlled, focused, rhythmic and thematically chaotic. The wild way in which the melodies are played contrast heavily with its coherent funk rhythm attitude. And knowing what I know of him, this is one of Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s most defining songs that I’ve yet heard.

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Anatomy Of THE Groove: “Never Knew Love Before” by Bobby Caldwell

Bobby Caldwell is someone whom I’ve tended to view as a artists musician and something of the epidome of what they often call “grown folks music” these days. Another native New Yorker deep into jazz and classic pop/rock,Caldwell found musical homes in both Memphis and Miami. These cities are strong musical melting pots in and of themselves. Having myself recently dug right into his late 70’s/early 80’s albums,Caldwell has revealed himself to something of a solo multi instrumentalist Steely Dan musically. Only with rather more emotionally earnest and romantic lyrical content.

Caldwell’s West Coast style jazzy funk sound is best known to most through 1977’s “What You Won’t Do For Love”. Recently,Caldwell met up with producer Jack Splash while on tour-which Caldwell does frequently while also recording fairly consistently. Splash has been noted for his retro styled productions with folks such as Alicia Keys,Mayer Hawthorne,Cee Lo Green and many other similar artists in the neo soul/electro funk vein. Last year he and Caldwell collaborated on a project entitled Cool Uncle. One song that got my attention from this strong album is called “Never Knew Love Before”.

A thick,funky drum begins the song starts the song with pounding,right in the Afro Latin clave percussion. A slap bass brings in two different keyboard lines. One is a brittle synthesizer line playing the chord changes,and a splinkling electric piano plays the main melody somewhat in the back round. The drumming solos for a moment before the chorus comes in,which in turn adds a sustained slap bass line to the keyboards,drums and percussion. Breezy accenting horn charts (or samples-difficult for me to tell) play along with the song until the electric piano and sustained cymbal closes the it all out.

Caldwell’s talents as a multi instrumentalist are at top form on this song. One thing this song totally brings out about Caldwell’s talent is that he doesn’t write simplistic songs on any level. The boogie/electro funk has modern instrumental sounds for sure. Yet the entire musical content is hard core 80’s funkiness. Also its a song that celebrates arrangements. In a day and age where a lot of contemporary R&B songs have three or four basic chords, Caldwell delivers refrains,choruses and bridges with strong melodic differences. This really makes “Never Knew Love Before” stand out all the stronger as top notch nu funk.


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Filed under 2015, Bobby Caldwell, Boogie Funk, drums, elecro funk, electric piano, horns, Jack Splash, jazz funk, multi instrumentalists, Nu Funk, percussion, slap bass, synthesizers

Improvisations – Joe McPhee



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Filed under avant-garde, free jazz, Joe McPhee, multi instrumentalists, Ron Wynn, Saxophone

Anatomy of THE Groove: “Night Train” by Steve Winwood

Steve Winwood is someone whom I don’t believe has been covered anywhere on Andresmusictalk as of yet. His musical conception is interesting because of his talent across two spectrum’s.  Winwood is a multi instrumentalist across a broad variety of string and keyboard instruments-as well as drums. At the same end,he also parlayed his talents as a member of bands such as The Spencer Davis Group,Blind Faith and finally Traffic. By the time of Steve Winwood’s solo debut in 1977,the man was already a stand up band leader at least twice over-while still being able to do it all on his own.

The Birmingham,England native began his career playing in his father and brother’s jazz band. And became active on the areas blues scene-his vocals being compared to Ray Charles. So a strong sense of soul always defined his creativity. His second solo album was 1980’s Arc Of A Diver. Much as Stevie Wonder,Prince and Todd Rundgren had done he really exercised his multi instrumental talents here-playing and producing the entire album with only Will Jenning’s co-writing some songs. It re-invented him as a commercial viable artist. And the song that musically expresses this best for me is “Night Train”.

A revving guitar starts up this groove before the percussive synthesizer comes in. After that a bluesy amped up guitar solos directly into the bouncy dance beat of the drums and the very funky bass line that responds to the rhythm in kind. Before the next part of the song starts up,the synth solo that begins the song is accented with a a synthesized string ensemble. Winwood plays a straight blues guitar solo to his vocals along with the synth strings. On the choruses,the melody merely goes into the minor chord. After a rather Brazilian style drum break on the bridge,the song plays out it’s refrains until it fades out.

On a personal level,it still makes me crack up a little bit to remember the first time I ever heard this song. At the age of 11,my parents would set our VCR to record the original Star Trek series for me late at night-commercials and all. One which was constantly repeated was a PSA for the local ABC affiliate about how advertising on TV worked. I loved the funky jam playing in the back-round. Only a decade later when I purchased the Modile Fidelity edition of Arc Of A Diver did I realize the song from that commercial was “Night Train”. Really shows you how funky instrumental music is dismissed as muzak sometimes.

One thing I’ve noticed about the most successful of multi instrumentalists is the level they utilize their talents to express their full abilities. Of course one has to be instrumentally humble in the more democratic environment of bands. On this song,Winwood brings together all of his musical influences into the synth pop of the early 80’s. The song itself is structured closely to the 12 bar blues. Still the rhythmic synthesizer and general keyboard vibe is straight out of the disco/funk sound of the late 70’s. So the end result comes out as a rock musician making his own type of uptempo boogie funk record in the end.

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Filed under 1980's, Arc Of A Diver, blues funk, Boogie Funk, drums, Funk Bass, lead guitar, multi instrumentalists, Steve Winwood, synth funk, synthesizer, Will Jennings