Funk and Caribbean

Funk & Caribbean

TDS @ Drummers Collective Day 8

“We want the Funk” or “Make it Funky”. Where did it all come from anyway. Better yet why is Da Funk so Funky? Take a read and get to the Funk of it. PICTURED: Kris,our amazing Instructor, Pat Petrillo, Alessandro and Costos.

“We want the Funk” or “Make it Funky”. Where did it all come from anyway.
Better yet why is Da Funk so Funky?
Take a read and get to the Funk of it.
PICTURED: Kris,our amazing Instructor, Pat Petrillo, Alessandro and Cost

Wednesday 9-1-10 was all about “Da Funk”. You may ask, what’s the big deal, what’s the stink all about, it’s just R&B or Soul music, right? Not a chance. So, last week we went back to the 60’s and spent almost a whole session on the drummers of James Brown.

“Jabo” Starks and Clyde Stubblefield recorded most of the popular body of James Brown’s works and it is within these songs that we find a mix of Soul, Soul Jazz and Rhythm & Blues styles, all thrown together to create what we now know as FUNK. James would often refer to the “feeling” of the music by saying “Make it funky” or “whatever you do, it’s got to be funky”. Some say James Brown’s music was Soul music, not Funk, after all, JB is the “King of Soul”. Others would argue that he was talking about a “style” instead of a feel and vise versa. Whatever it is, it changed the game permanently, this we can all agree.

If someone asked you to play “The Fatback” groove, you’d play the groove from JB’s hit called “Cold Sweat” performed by Clyde Stubblefield and even if you’re from Mars, you’ve heard this luscious and infectious groove. James Brown’s song “The Funky Drummer” (also performed by Clyde) is one of the most sampled drum beats in history. These are very syncopated rhythms with the snare moving away from a straight 2&4 feel to add lots more color, making it hot and spicy or a greasy, slick kinda feel. It makes you’re body jerk and you head snap!

We went on to listen to these James Brown’s tunes. “I feel good”, “Mother Popcorn”, “I got the feeling”, “Give it up, turn it loose”, “Get it together”, “Super Bad”, “Soul Power”,“Sex Machine” and “Doin it to death (gonna have a funky good time)”.

Take a moment to refresh yourself with these tunes and listen with new ears as you here some of the most incredible grooves, the grooves that defined the transition from Soul and laid the foundation of Funk from the “King of Soul”.

1967 Sly & the Family Stone burst onto the scene with there hybrid sound of Soul,Rock and Funk, they were another group that typified the early Funk movement. Bassist Larry Graham was one of the first to bring the “Slap Bass” technique into the mainstream. It instantly gave a more percussive sound to the ensemble which was revolutionary at the time and helped propel and “lock” in what musicians refer to as the “Pocket” for the Rhythm Section.

Sly’s first drummer of note, Gregg Errico was a solid time keeper and used elements of Rock, Jazz and Soul drumming along with the rest of the rhythm sections syncopated grooves. Check out the groove on tracks like the often overlooked “Under Dog” with the blazing fast one-handed 16TH notes on the HiHat and the hard driving “I wanna take you higher” where you can here the Rock infused kick and quarter note snare. Also, listen to the Slap Bass” technique, rhythm guitar and drum interplay in the awesome Funk classic, “Thank you (Falettinme Be Mice Elf again)” and the slow churning gut buckle Funk of “Thank you for talking to me Africa”

Andy Newmark  joined Sly’s band in 1971 and brought with him some out of the world most syncopated and funky drum grooves that are as fresh today as they were back then. You can here a very distinct difference in his approach on tracks like “ In Time” from the 1973 LP “Fresh” where the Funky interplay between bass and drums is THE quintessential sound of Funk or check out the fun-spirited Bass Funk anthem, “Loose Booty” where Andy uses the sparsely syncopated kick to compliment the Slap Bass. EXQUISITE !!

There were many other groups around at this time that were developing their own take on the Rhythm Section driven,Horn section blowin, vocal Funk music. Groups like, Booker T and the M.G.’s , The Funk Meters, The Winstons, Edwin Starr and more.

George Clinton’s P’Funk hit in the early 70’s after his Funkadelic group had established an underground vibe by combining elements of Funk and “Rock Guitar” driven music. By the time  Parliament emerged the “Funk” movement found it’s leader, freeing itself to go where no one had gone before.

George Clinton’s Parliament/Funkadelic and other Funk pioneers will be the topic of our next edition of the evolution of the Funk.

Another fine and FUNKY day in the neighborhood.


Kris Russell