JOVM celebrates George Clinton’s 79th birthday.
Tomode is an emerging Swedish funk act founded by Carl Leanderson and Viktor Westerberg. Interestingly, the act can trace its origins to Leanderson’s and Westerberg’s mutual love of funk and disco. After spending a couple of years developing and honing their sound, the Swedish duo’s debut single “Destiny, No. 20” firmly establishes their sound and approach: featuring Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, shimmering synths, a sinuous bass line and shuffling four-on-the-floor, and an enormous hook, “Destiny, No. 20” will command comparisons to Daft Punk‘s “Get Lucky,” and Chic’s “Good Times.” And much like those songs, the song is centered around a wistful and aching desire to escape — in nostalgia, as much as it is to escape to the dance floor.
“We want to make music that can act as a remedy to the slight despair we all feel, living
through the 2020’s,” the members of the emerging Swedish funk pop act say in press notes. ” Destiny No. 20 opens the door to everything we love – it’s got vibrant
drums, pulsating arpeggios, disco guitars and a funky bassline. It’s as much ‘Good Times’ with Chic as it is ‘Dancing On My Own‘ with Robyn. Hopefully it ignites a spark somewhere out there in the darkness.”
The band plans to release material throughout the summer — with their debut EP slated for release during the fall.
Alan Evans is a songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known for being the co-founder of acclaimed jazz fusion trio and JOVM mainstays Soulive. Back in 2008, while Soulive was on a break from touring, Evans spent his time producing, recording and mixing bands from around the world in his Western Massachusetts-based recording studio. On his days off, he would go into the studio and play guitar, recording a collection of material that he didn’t feel fit Soulive but wanted to release under his own name — Crushed Velvet and the Velveteers wound up becoming Evans’ guitar playing alter ego.
Crushed Velvet and the Velveteers’ latest single, the strutting “Good Thang” features an All-Star cast of funk and jazz musicians that includes DJ Williams’ Shots Fired‘s and Rubblebucket’s Darby Wolf (organ), The Curtis Mayflower’s Pete Aleski (guitar), Akashic Record‘s and BT ALC Big Band’s Brian “BT” Thomas” (trombone), ALC Funktet’s and BT ALC Big Band’s Alex Lee-Clark (trumpet), BT ALC Big Band’s Tucker Antell (alto and tenor saxophone) BT ALC Big Band’s Jared Sims (baritone sax) and Kim Dawson (vocals), who contributes sultry vocals to a Daptone meets Muscle Shoals-like anthem, complete with an enormous horn section and an even bigger hook.
“Crushed Velvet and the Velveteers is all about spontaneous creation for me and the very creative friends I get to call on to be a part of it. ‘Good Thang’ is a perfect example,” Evans says in press notes. “Initially I went into the studio, picked up the guitar and let whatever I was feeling come out without worrying about what kind of song it was.” He continues, “Before I knew it, I had a really great feeling bed of bass, drums and guitar laid down. From there, I asked my great friends Darby, Pete, Brian, Alex, Tucker, Jarad and Kim to take what I started and record exactly what inspired them to play. That is the best part of making music for me, creating something that will inspire people.”
Since their formation back in 2011 by founding members Alex “ALC” Lee-Clark and Brian “BT” Thomas, the Boston-based funk collective BT ALC Big Band, which also features a rotation cast of some of the Boston area’s best funk and jazz players, has developed a reputation for crafting compositions that are heavily indebted to the big bands of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, James Brown, Parliament Funkadelic and The Meters — but with a decidedly modern take, in what the band has dubbed Big Band Funk.
Recently, the Boston-based funk act signed to Alan Evans‘ label Vintage League Music — and their first release with their new label home, “Bring Forth Change” features a collection of 18 credited artists, including Lettuce‘s Nigel Hall (vocals) and Eric “Benny” Bloom (trumpet) and Soulive’s Alan Evans (drums) was recorded remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The idea to record ‘Bring Forth Change’ was put in motion after Brian Thomas, Alex Lee-Clark and I were chatting about the possibilities of remotely tracking for a 18-piece band under the current social distancing protocol we are all following,” Alan Evans told Relix Magazine about the single’s recording project. “They agreed that enough band members had the technological capabilities to get the job done. It’s always amazing being able to work with these amazing musicians and the addition of Nigel Hall and Eric Bloom from Lettuce was the icing on the cake!”
“Bring Forth Change” is a strutting bit of funk centered around an enormous horn line, wah wah pedaled guitar, jazz-like drumming and a much-needed, uplifting message that brings James Brown’s “Say It Loud, I’m Black and Proud,” Sly and the Family Stone, Tower of Power and others to mind. As the song reminds us, now is our moment to go out there and collectively change the world in a way that’s been long overdue.
“What I’m witnessing in this moment, with these protests, is unlike anything else I have ever seen before,” Alan Evans explains in press notes. “I’m 46, I’ve lived through many moments of protest in the face of police brutality—I remember when Rodney King was beat brutally by police. But what’s different today is that I see people from all walks of life out there, coming together collectively protesting that they’ve had enough, not just Black folks.
The cats on ‘Bring Forth Change’ are representative of this America I see today out in the streets—there’s Black cats, White cats, Latino cats playing together, singing this message. I’m not sure we’ll see the change we want to see without collective solidarity.”
Formed in 2018 and led by its founding member and bandleader JayJay (trumpet), the Montpellier, France-based brass act JayJayBrass Band specializes in a modern take on the classic brass band sound — one that features elements of hip-hop and funk. Last year, the band went into the studio to record their debut effort, which was released earlier this year and features 9 original compositions and a cover of an Anderson .Paak song, as well as guest vocals from local emcee Loïs Hammel.
The album’s “Radio Funk” is a swaggering and strutting bit of New Orleans-styled brass centered around some Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, swinging saxophone and trumpet lines, some muscular low end from the sousaphone within a dance floor friendly composition with big hooks. Loïs Hammel contributes a few party friendly rhymes on an already party friendly track. Considering how bleak things in our world are at the moment, a few moments of levity seem necessary.
Color Red · Brothers of Brass – “Legal State” | Color Red Music
Tracing their origins back to their formation in Atlanta back in 2014, the Denver-based brass band act Brothers of Brass — Khalil Simon (sousaphone), Armando Lopez (soprano and tenor sax), Jake Herman (snare drum), K.R. Azad (bass drum), Christopher Henry (trumpet), Sean Bocinksy (trumpet), Matthew Rossman (trumpet), Ethan Harris (trombone) and Scott Flynn (trombone) — features a diverse array of musicians, who have roots in Louisiana, California, Kansas and Florida.
Since relocating to Denver, the brass octet have quickly become “arguably the most popular street [music] in Denver,” according to Westword Magazine while developing and honing their own take on traditional New Orleans brass, one that also finds the band infusing funk, pop and hip-hop influences.
Drawing from their shared backgrounds in New Orleans-styled brass bands and HBCU marching bands, with nods to New Orleans brass, bounce and hip-hop, Brothers of Brass’ swaggering debut single “Legal State” is centered around a strutting sousaphone line, energetic brass lines and a dexterous and expressive sax solos to create a decidedly upbeat, party anthem. But at its core is a sobering yet fiery reflection on the inequities of cannabis remaining illegal across the South while it’s legal and enjoyed recreationally in their home state of Colorado.
DJ Williams is a Plainfield, NJ-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, composer. producer, guitarist and bandleader, who grew up in Richmond, VA. Throughout his nearly two decade career, Williams has developed and maintained a reputation for being both incredibly prolific and for being a highly sought-after collaborator: the Plainfield-born, Los Angeles-based artist is the founder of the Richmond-based and DJ Williams Projekt; the hip-hop/R&B act The Breaks; the acoustic duo Williams & Jones; and he’s probably best known for playing in the critically acclaimed, San Diego-based funk/jam-band act Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe.
Unsurprisingly, as a result of his various creative projects. Williams has toured around the planet, playing in clubs of all sizes, as well as the international festival circuit, playing the largest and most prestigious festivals across the US, Canada and Europe — and he’s shared stages with the likes of John Legend, Dave Matthews Band, John Oates, Warren Haynes, Ivan Neville, Big Daddy Kane, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Soulive, Levon Helm, Slightly Stoopid, Robert Randolph, Slick Rick and a growing list of others.
As a singer/songwriter, composer and bandleader, Williams’ work boasts compelling melody, an eclectic musical palette and deliberate and careful songwriting, revealing his desire to push new sonic and stylistic boundaries. His latest project, DJ Williams’ Shots Fired features members of Dave Matthews Band, Lenny Kravitz‘s backing band, Slightly Stooped, Trey Anastasio Band, Lyrics Born, Soulive, Greyboy Allstars and others — including the likes of Dan Africano (bass), Kowan Turner (drums), Joe Tatton (electric organ), Scott Flynn (trombone), Nick Gerlach (sax) and André Mali (trumpet) and a rotating cast of collaborators and associates.
DJ Williams’ Shots Fired’s debut single “She’s No Good” quickly earned regular airplay on SiriusXM during the spring of 2018 and as a result, the band was named as a “heat-seeker” and “an artist to watch.” Building upon a growing profile, the act’s newest album, a concept album conceived as the four-part soundtrack for an imaginary movie is slated for an August 2020 release through Color Red Records. Interestingly, the album’s first single “Iron Fist” depicts a character known as “The Samurai,” represented through Williams’ slashing guitar work. Centered around a looping 12 bar blues like structure, the song features a chugging two-step inducing groove, twinkling and arpeggiated organ blasts, shuffling drumming and an enormous horn line, the track is as swaggering and expansive composition that meshes elements of psych rock, jam band rock, arena rock and funk that feels as though it captures the band’s live show and energy with an uncanny and unerring accuracy.
Crowd Company is a rising, London-based acid jazz/jazz fusion/funk octet featuring core members Rob Fleming (vocals, guitar), Emil Engstrom (bass), Claudio Corona (keys), Esther Dee (vocals), Jo Marshall (vocals) and Robin Lowrey (drums) with a horn section including a rotating cast of top local players like Piers Green and Ed Benstea that specializes in sound that draws from and features elements of 1960s soul, 70s jazz fusion, contemporary funk, the blues and jam band rock: their material is centered around arrangements that feature Hammond organ, a virtuous horn section, soulful vocals and three part harmonies and funky grooves paired with razor sharp hooks.
The British octet has also built up a reputation for a powerhouse live show, while opening for an impressive list of acclaimed and legendary artists including The Meters‘ George Porter, Jr., JOVM mainstays Soulive, The New Mastersounds, Saun & Starr, James Taylor Quartet and Monophonics among others.
Earlier this year, the band released their most recent album, the Alan Evans-produced and mixed Lowdown, which The Big Takeover lauded as an album “that bursts at the sonic seams with rich, vibrant and varied compositions.” The rising British act’s latest single “Orbital” was recorded during the Lowdown sessions at Evans’ Iron Wax Studios. And although the track sees the members of Crowd Company continuing their collaboration with Lettuce’s Ryan Zoidis and Eric “Benny” Bloom, it wasn’t included as one of Lowdown‘s album tracks. Clocking in at a little under 5:30, the funky and intergalactic composition sees the act bridging acid jazz, jazz fusion, retro-futuristic funk and psychedelia in a way that reminds me of Switzerland’s merchants of jazzy grooves L’Eclair— but with an enormous Parliament Funkadelic-like horn section.
Montreal-based soul act The Brooks formed over eight years ago — and the act can claim a lineup featuring some of the French Canadian city’s most accomplished local soul musicians: Florida-born, Montreal-based singer/songwriter and frontman Alan Prater has toured with Michael Jackson and the band itself can trace its origins to behind the walls of the Motown Museum: Alexandre Lapointe (bass) has worked alongside Joel Campbell, the musical director for Tina Turner and Janet Jackson. Prater and Lapointe are joined by Maxime Bellavance (drums), Phillips Look (guitar, vocals), Daniel Thouin (keys), Sébastien Grenier (sax), Hichem Khalifa (French horn), and Phillipe Beaudin (percussion).
Developing a sound that draws from James Brown, D’Angelo, Fela Kuti, Herbie Hancock and J. Dilla, the members of The Brooks have developed a reputation for a songwriting approach that eschews rules and trends while spreading joy and funk — and for an energetic live show. And as a result, the band has built up a profile both across the province and nationally over the course of two critically applauded albums and an EP: Named the “best kept secret of Canadian funk” by La Presse, the band has received a number of nominations and awards at GAMIQ, Independent Music Awards, ADISQ, and others.
The French Canadian soul outfit’s third full-length album Anyway Now is slated for a release this full through Duprince Records across North and South America and Underdog Records through Europe and Japan — and the album’s first single is the stomping, strutting and funky party anthem “Turn Up the Sound.” Centered around an arrangement that nods at The Payback-era James Brown, Dance to the Music and Stand!-era Sly and the Family Stone, the upbeat song was written to be played loud and to get you to get up out of your seat, escape your daily concerns for a few minutes and dance. Everything may seem canceled or postponed but music is still there to bring you joy — and to remind you that brighter days will come in time. “I just wanted to write a fun song to get you to escape from whatever you’re doing,” the band’s Alan Prater explains in press notes.
The single is accompanied by a live footage of the band performing the song in the studio, and it manages to reveal the band’s creative chemistry while being an introduction to the band to new listeners.
Over the course of this site’s nearly ten year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the critically applauded, New York-based singer/songwriter, bassist, producer Adeline. Since leaving her post as frontwoman of the equally acclaimed electronic dance music/neo-disco JOVM mainstay outfit Escort, the New York-based singer/songwriter, bassist and producer released her self-titled, full-length debut to critical praise from the likes of Vogue, NPR, Refinery 29, Rolling Stone, The Fader and many others.
Building upon a rapidly growing profile as a solo artist, Adeline has opened for the likes of Anderson .Paak, Lee Fields, Chromeo, Big Freedia and Natalie Prass among others, further cementing her long-held reputation for dazzling audiences with her captivating live show and energetic presence. She’s also made appearances at a number of stops across the national festival circuit, including Afropunk, Funk on the Rocks and Winter Jazz Fest. Further proving to the world in general that she may arguably be one of the hardest working women in contemporary music, Adeline is also a member of CeeLo Green’s touring band.
Now, it’s been a while since I’ve personally written about the JOVM mainstay — but interestingly, she’ll be releasing the highly-anticipated follow up to her critically applauded debut, Intérimes EP. Slated for a June 12 release, the EP will feature the EP’s first single ‘Middle,” which she performed on CBS This Morning earlier this month, a funky psych soul cover of Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan” and the EP’s latest single, the sultry, “Twilight.” Centered around shimmering synths, twinkling keys, a sinuous bass line and Adeline’s gorgeous pop superstar-like vocals, stuttering beats “Twilight” the track is indebted to Erykah Badu neo-soul and Quiet Storm soul. “Twilight is about a relationship that’s ending,” says Adeline. “It’s that particularly painful moment when you realize that it’s over. You have nothing left to give and there’s nothing left to say. The twilight is the period from dawn to sunrise or sunset to dusk. It’s the moment of realization that there is a transition coming. It’s saying goodbye to something while saying hello to the next.”
Directed by Adeline herself, and shot in a hazy, Super 8mm-like graininess, during the golden hour of twilight, the video features the JOVM in a number of different locations in New York, while capturing her with a brooding and seductive, movie star-like elegance.