If you’re a rap music enthusiast, you know sampling is a definite part of beat-making. And for the past 25 years, the one sound that’s been consistently used and abused has been Jazz-Funk, an overlooked, critics-panned genre when it was first created, only to be celebrated by the streets years later. The deep, complex, modal compositions, the audacious arrangements, were balanced out with a sense of gritty, true r’n’b and funk aggressivity.
It’s been a very long time since I wanted to create a band that would play that music, and from the start, it was a very clear position not to compose for this one project, but to challenge my arranging abilities in playing the widest spectrum of compositions from that era, instead of writing “a la back-in-the-day”, wich would have been reducing the effort to a mere exercice in style.
Besides playing a repertoire that is totally ignored nowadays, it forced us into finding tricks and workarounds to play the tunes, because of the limitation induced by the choice of strictly period correct instrumentation: I wanted to use something a small, gigging funk band group from that era would have had on stage. Eventually, we started developing a sound of our own and adding our modern, hip hop intensity.
I had a hard time assembling the perfect team, as I needed each instrumentist; to master the whole array of jazz and r’n’b styles from that era; to be a great sight-reader (the sophisticated arrangements would be extremely time consuming to learn by heart); and to have the righteous, ballsy attitude and street-wise feel for the music.