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Fela Kuti – The Best of the Black President (KFR)

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The Best of the Black President marks the birth of Knitting Factory Records. Earlier this year, KFR licensed the 45-album Fela Kuti catalogue. Over the next 18 months, they will release remasters of all the Fela CDs in unique digi-packs with the original artwork, as well as certain releases on vinyl for the first time in North America. KFR will also be giving the first official release to the entire Koola Lobitos catalogue- this was Fela’s highlife band which he fronted through the 60’s.

More news in the world of Fela Kuti:
- the first ever official Fela Kuti website has recently been launched (Fela.net)
- and a Broadway musical (Fela!) opens this November at Eugene O’Neil Theatre, a follow-up to the highly acclaimed off-Broadway show.

The Best Of The Black President tracklisting:
CD 1 – 1. Lady | 2. Shakara | 3. Gentleman* | 4. Water Get No Enemy | 5. Zombie |
6. Sorrow Tears and Blood | 7. No Agreement
CD 2 – 1. Roforofo Fight | 2. Shuffering and Shmiling | 3. Coffin for the Head of State 4. ITT (part 2) | 5. Army Arrangement (part 2) | 6. O.D.O.O*
*edit version

The Best Of The Black President Deluxe Version: CDx2 + DVD
DVD includes segments from “Music is the Weapon”, the Berlin Jazz Festival, “Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense,” and interviews with Bill T. Jones and Carlos Moore.

Look out for Felebrations – coordinated parties across the country and across the world, to celebrate Fela Kuti’s mid-October Birthday.

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Lonnie Jordan – War Stories – Fantasy Collection

Lonnie Jordan - War Stories

Keyboard Man Lonnie Jordan
Founder Member of WAR
Revisits his Back Catalogue on his New Solo Outing

Lonnie Jordan is in high spirits when he talks about his new Fantasy collection, War Stories. It’s not a comeback, its a flashback, Jordan says laughing. It’s all live, no sequencing, no tricks, nothing but real musicians playing real music. I did a few keyboard overdubs, but that was done live to tape too; they turned on the machine and let me play, just like the olden days. Just like Eric Burdon taught me. This music doesn’t have anything to do with thinking. I just play and feel and have a good time.

War Stories details the amazing journey that took Jordan and War, the band he helped create, from the ghettos of LA to stages and concert halls all around the world. I’ve been thinking about writing a book, based on my experiences in the 60s and into the 70s, musically and personally. Thinking about that got me thinking about the music, so this is the first chapter of my musical autobiography, the soundtrack to my life story.

To capture the live vibe he treasures, Jordan enlisted the aid of two young producers, guitarist JB Eckl who worked with Santana on Shaman and bass player Pancho Tomaselli, a current member of War. The duo put together a tight sextet Tomaselli; Eckl; drummer Paul Gonzalez; Pablo Calogero on horns; Mitch Kashmar on harmonica and percussionist Dan Tai. The same group will be touring with Jordon to support War Stories.

We took the band into the studio for three days of rehearsals, nine or ten hours a day. We ate and talked and jammed and road tested the tunes in a concentrated amount of time to get that band vibe going. There’s a lot of Africa and Latin America in the music, and a lot of percussion that takes the music back to its roots in the Motherland. War dipped into rock, jazz, blues, Latin and R&B and we always liked to change up the arrangements, so we revisited a lot of War tunes to bring in some different flavors.

Don’t Let No One Get You Down is slower than the original, highlighted by Eckl’s pensive guitar and Jordan’s dreamy Fender Rhodes. Jordan’s aching vocal ups the songs romantic quotient. Jordan made Me and Baby Brother more moody and bluesy, with expansive, cinematic keyboard parts played on both Wurlitzer electric piano and Hammond B-3. Jordan’s soulful wailing background vocals add extra drama to the track. The World Is A Ghetto is, sad to say, just as relevant today as it was when it was written. The arrangement blends Latin, jazz and Indian music, all built on the propulsive rhythms laid down by drummer Paul Gonzalez and percussionist Davey Chegwidden, augmented by the tribal vocals of Jordan, Eckl and Tomaselli. Get Down is faster than the War version, with a percussion arrangement that blends the rhythms of Africa, Cuba and Columbia’s cumbia. Jordan’s exuberant vocal compliments the song’s ironic message. The police laugh as they bust us, so ya better get down, Jordan says.

Jordan’s Cuban piano licks give The Stones Paint It Black a slinky, sultry vibe. The Stones used an Indian scale for the melody, Jordan says. I added my own Latin twist to it. JB Eckl Out Of Sight is a jazzy, mid tempo blues. Jordan’s rippling Rhodes solo is played in the style of Bill Evans, while his B-3 and background vocals give the tune a sanctified feel.

Third Stone From The Sun is the Jimi Hendrix classic, given a funky, sci-fi treatment by combining Jordan’s piano with the Melotron and Moog of Sebastian Arocha Morton. I jammed with Jimi on the last night of his life, Jordan recalls. I wanted something cosmic to mirror Jimi’s soul. We slowed it down to give it a sense of energy coming from the sun – and returning to it. The album closes with Teresa, a love song Jordan wrote for his wife, with an elegant melody and some of the album’s most passionate singing.

The multi-layered arrangements of War Stories are just as eclectic as you’d expect coming from a man whose music has always confounded expectations. War Stories is as startling and inspired as anything Jordan’s ever cut in his long and varied career.

Everyone knows Jordan for the role he played in War, but he had a life before Eric Burdon and Jerry Goldstein took the band to the top of the charts. Lonnie Jordan was born on November 21, 1948 in San Diego, California, but his family moved to Compton soon afterwards. “I have three brothers,  Jordan recalls. My oldest brother Ray used to play with Vernon Garrett and R&B oldies groups. As teenagers, we pretended we had a vocal group and did songs by Little Anthony and The Imperials and Stevie Wonder. I was the youngest, so I was the lead singer with my brothers as background singers. We had lots of girl cousins and they were our audience – and our hecklers.

I started pounding on the piano when I was about six,  Jordan says. I could play by ear and took some lessons from a church lady who played for the congregation. After a couple of months I played an arpeggio like I’d heard her do on Sundays. She smacked my hand and I ran out of there and never went back. I mostly taught myself, but before she hit me, I did a recital of  Londonderry Air (Oh Danny Boy). I made one mistake and started shaking. That caused me to have terrible stage fright, which I didnt get over until my late 40s. I still have that moment of fear before I strike the first note, but once I hit it Im cool.

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Jordan delved into Ray Charles, Jimmy Smith, Erroll Garner, Bill Evans (before and after Miles), Earl Grant and Billy Preston. He loved Latin music and picked up vibes after listening to Cal Tjader. “I was in bands all through high school and got into trouble with girls, but I was more into music than girls. I was afraid to fall in love, cause that would take away time from playing music.

I felt like a professional, even before high school. I met Howard Scott in Compton. His piano player was in and out of jail, so he hired me and the band became The Creators. I had to get permits to play in clubs cause I was too young. We played R&B – Wilson Pickett, James Brown, Johnny Taylor and lot of ghetto blues, Memphis Slim, Lowell Fulsome, guys like that. We also dug pop and country – Patsy Cline, Elvis, The Everly Brothers. We played in country clubs backing up country singers and played Latin, Jazz and Gospel gigs. We finally started creating our own style. Since we all liked everything, we decided to be multi-cultural in our music.

In 1968, the band was backing up Deacon Jones, a pro football player trying to launch a singing career. Meanwhile, Eric Burdon was looking for a backing band. “Eric and Lee Oskar sat in with us one night. It sounded so good, (his producer) Jerry Goldstein took us into the studio to cut some stuff. Those tracks never came out, but Eric Burdon hired them for a tour of Japan and the five-day Northridge Festival. One night we were walking down an alley, all of us in our fatigues and boots and big Afros. Our manager said:  You look like you just came off a battlefield  like you’re ready to fight a war.  Someone suggested War as a band name and it sounded too radical. Then we thought we’d wage war with melody, rhythm and harmony as our weapons and the songs as our ammunition. We spoke out against racism, hunger, gangs and crime and fused rock, jazz, Latin and R&B, as well as being one of the first integrated bands in the business.

And the rest, as they say, is history and  still doing our thing and bringing multi-cultural audiences to our concerts, all ages, all races. Fans of hip hop, alt.rock, Latin music, jazz. We go out with everyone from Steve Miller to Ice Cube and still do low rider shows.

More on Lonnie Jordan’s War Stories

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James Brown Lives On

James Brown, the “Godfather of Funk” sadly passed away on to the next dimension early Monday morning around 1.45 am (6.45 GMT) in Atlanta. He was 73. James’ longtime friend, Charles Bobbit was by his side.

Mr. Brown was one of the hardest working artists in the music industry and inspired many popular artists, bands and musicians during the past 5 decades. He was the main influence behind soul and funk music and helped to shape the sound of countless funk bands in the last 30 years.

His fast-footed rhythmic dancing inspired, amongst others, Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson. He was also one of the most sampled artists ever, and helped to shape the sound of many funk, soul, rap, disco and hip hop artists and bands.

He has been a major influence in my musical life, from the time I was 9 years old, when I first heard his music drifting out of a house garden party I said to myself; “What’s this music? it’s so funky in there!”, I had jump over the wall, i.e. gatecrash the party, and got into the groove. I asked someone “Who is this?”, and they said “James Brown, of course”… The funk was in me. I loved it and still do.

He will be sadly missed, but joyously remembered. James Brown Lives ON!

James always did his funk on the GOOD FOOT:
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Crossroads of the Funk

I am from Dayton, Ohio and I completed a research paper on the Funk music groups from my home town during the 1960′s and 70′s. There were about 15 acts that had their origins in Dayton, Ohio. I don’t have much time to write, so I will list a majority of the acts:

The Ohio Players, Roger Troutman & Zapp, Slave, Steve Arrington’s Hall of Fame, Sun, Heatwave, Platypus, Faze-O, Shirley Murdock, The System, Lakeside, Junie Morrison, Otha Stokes, New Horizons, Dayton and Aurra. Also some of Slave’s members went to Mtume.

I wrote a 74 page research paper about it and discovered that James Brown “invented” Funk and George Clinton popularized Funk, but the Ohio Players were the real musical innovators of Funk. They mastered the musical structure that all other 70′s Funk bands produced during that time period. Even George Clinton emulated the musical prowess that the Players provided.

My goal is get the Ohio Players recognized by the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame for their contributions to the defining of Funk Music during the 1970′s. Their role was critical, because Funk was the platform for American dance music during the 70′s. That is an amazing feat that I believe needs to be recognized. Please help me spread the word and let me know if you would like a copy of my research paper.

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Prince of Funk

Is Prince the prince of FUNK?

musicology.gif Musicology

Personally I would say so, and in the steps of the Kings of funk like James Brown and George Clinton, Prince is on he’s way to becoming a King of Funk. Ahmm.. mabey I should stop with these monarchistic terms as I don’t subscribe to them.

I heard Prince’s Musicology cd a few weeks back and I thought “Yes, this guy has a DEEP scence of music, particularly the Funky kind”. Honestly, some tracks on this CD are just pure G. I would even take my hat off to have a jam with this dude.

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Sunz of Rhythm LIVE Penthouse Nightclub London

Sunz of Rhythm Sunz of Rhythm will be performing a set of live funky house music at the Penthouse Nightclub in Liecester Square, Soho London.
The event will take place on Thursday 20th July 2006.

Penthouse Nightclub 2Penthouse Nightclub 1 Penthouse NightClub.

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Funky People

There is a lot of funky people out there, it’s just we don’t often see them. Guess that’s because they’re “getting down just for the funk of it”.

I mean, I could be way off the mark but it’s just a though.

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Afro Funk music festival

Afro Funk Banner

The Afro Funk Music Festival 2006 is about to decend upon us.
There seems to be plenty of funk happening in July 2006. This festival is sure to kick some rootsy, african hi-energy funky sounds. I for one, will try and make it.

Lots of class acts from Guinea, Kenya, Nigeria, Brazil, and the Bay Area and apparently, will be raising funds towards relief aid in countries such as Darfur, Kenya, Niger and Sudan where people have been devastated by war and famine.

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George Clinton and Parliament Tour Dates

George Clinton and Garry SheiderGeorge Clinton and Parliament are making an appearence via their European tour dates in July 2006. The last time I saw these funky dudes was in London, 4 years ago, and they were funkin hot.

You can check the dates here: George Clinton Tour Dates .

Regards
Sir Funkalot

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Funk MP3 Podcasts

We have a collection of funk podcasts by the Surefunk Collective. Check’em out.

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