funk Archive

Roy Ayers’ Positive Vibrations

Few popular musicians have been successful at making a switch from one genre to another while holding on to a substantial fan base. Singer and vibraphonst Roy Ayers has done it, and more than once. Famously gifted a set of vibes mallets by bandleader Lionel Hampton, Ayers earned one of his first professional breaks as

The Nth Power: Maximum Musical Skills

New Orleans supergroup delivers spirituality and soul live onstage and on a pair of new albums The hypnotic, deep-groove funky soul of The Nth Power is a big draw on the jam band circuit. On the group’s web site, the New Orleans-founded quartet claims that it’s “on a mission to share the light.” There’s no

Coffey Talk: A Chat with Guitar Legend Dennis Coffey (Part 2)

Continued from Part One … Dennis Coffey was part of a new venture, the Producer’s Workshop, led by legendary Motown bassist James Jamerson. As he recalls in Guitars, Bars and Motown Superstars, “Motown had already got rid of its staff producers who were hitless, so the remaining producers continued to develop their ideas during the

Coffey Talk: A Chat with Guitar Legend Dennis Coffey (Part 1)

The 2002 film Standing in the Shadows of Motown introduced viewers to The Funk Brothers. That name – originally coined by session drummer William “Benny” Benjamin – was retroactively applied to a large and loosely-defined group of musicians responsible for a staggering amount of the pop music that came out of Detroit, Michigan in the

Jonathan Scales, Man of Steel

Spontaneity is a highly valued commodity in the jazz world. And Jonathan Scales has that quality in great supply. He brought that just-in-time approach to competing in a national search for musicians to serve as cultural ambassadors for an international concert tour in 2017. And in December, he toured with a collective of esteemed musicians

Best of 2016: Interviews

In 2016 alone, I’ve interviewed more than 140 artists; that’s nearly half the number I interviewed in the decade prior to this year. I hope 2017 will be at least as busy; I find my conversations with creatives extremely rewarding. I’ve learned a few things along the way, and one of the most important realizations

Best Music of 2016: Concerts

There’s a bit of overlap where my best albums and best concerts of 2016 are concerned. And there are some old favorites, too. John Mayall Neighborhood Theatre, Charlotte NC March 11, 2016 It was only around this time that I pivoted to writing as a full-time job (in other words, how I make my living).

Hundred-word Reviews for Nov./Dec. 2016, Part 1 of 10

Time to clear out the backlog before the year’s end. Here’s the first installment; lots of great titles here. Consider doing your holiday shopping, and note that I’ve provided purchasing links (when available) to Amazon. As it happens, these five are all from Real Gone Music, one of my favorite reissue/archival labels. Fanny – Mother’s

Esperanza Spalding’s Musical Evolution (or D+Evolution?), Part Two

Continued from Part One… Working with Tony Visconti In the music business, Tony Visconti is something of a household name. Since his start in 1968, Visconti has produced more than 120 albums for a wide variety of artists, including more than a dozen for David Bowie. He’s worked in a variety of musical genres, but

Esperanza Spalding’s Musical Evolution (or D+Evolution?), Part One

Note: portions of this feature appeared previously (and in different form) in altweeklies in Asheville NC, Chicago and Salt Lake City. — bk Cross-genre sensation Esperanza Spalding is something of an anomaly – albeit a welcome one – on today’s pop music landscape. A fine singer with an impressive range, she’s also a supremely accomplished