Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Brooklyn Funk Essentials : Ronnie Scotts 21/01/2016

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Brooklyn Funk Essentials now there's a name I've not heard bandied about for a while,in fact I'm surprised they are still around but judging by their rather perky new album,I'm glad they are.They were part of the second wave of acid jazz back in the 90's and hey presto! Fast forward twenty odd years later here they are performing their debut (and certainly a landmark gig for them) at the best jazz club in the world!

Proceedings got off to a promising start with a gentle funky potboiler called 'Take The L Train' settling us all in for a nice little ride with its 'Hercules' inspired bassline, lilting rhythym and hot trumpet.Sweet! It was all looking promising however the band switched tack slipping into comfortable and rather safe house grooves,the sort of thing incognito do ad infinitum and even the addition of Alison Limerick left me somewhat underwhelmed.

Fortunately with their 90's timewarp fully satiated the band launched into what they do best-their funside,mixing anatolian/turkish top lines with funk and ska grooves and lead singer Papa Dee,a colourful and consummate frontman,certainly hit his stride when the band sat between the exotic east and funky west and 'Istanbul Twilight',the catalyst,certainly cut the mustard.....

There's an old saying 'form is temporary and class is permanent' and BFE are definately a classy affair, a rock solid rythym section, a super tight horn section (who also take care of keys as well!) A charismatic frontman (with a look that conjours Ali G and Gregory Isaacs) and a guitarist who locks onto rhythm like a heat seeking missile! The star for me though is the drummer,he may look like a bike mechanic at a hell's angel rally but boy! His pocket is deep,right on the money propelling his colleagues on to great things including a gloriously cheeky Mozart Skank,(the turkish movement in A major) that brought the house down!Bravissimo! It's interesting to note this band were fusing that 'world sound' to funk and reggae well before it became commonplace so props to BFE who should get more credit as mash up specialists!

Ronnie's was now in full swing and party mode and by the time Ms Limerick came back on to sing her classic (to glorious effect) 'Where Love Lives' and Papa smashing the stand out track,the horn heavy 'Hold It Down' (on the new cd 'Funk ain't ova'-Dorado Records) it was a done deal. Staged without an interval, the two hour show kept the eager audience still wanting more,which takes some doing, but BFE CERTAINLY HAVE STAMINA (must be all that cured fish and meatballs!) Oh and I haven't mentioned their latin boogaloos,they were champion at that.Let's hope we see more of them they are one helluva band with their funk going strong and as our Lenny said 'it ain't over til it's over'....For summertime funk with a turkish twist,some dance hall riddim and horn drenched soul-jazz flavours you'd be hard pressed to find a more versatile band out there. ......A top night in Soho me thinks.
Words Emrys Baird

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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