March 23, 2018

Detroit Rising: A Cosmic Jazz Funk Adventure


Down Jazz Records has forwarded the funk. Detroit Rising: A Cosmic Jazz Funk Adventure, on sea-green vinyl, is the latest tentacle of the George Clinton P-Funk octopus of mammoth proportions. While the man himself continues to tour and excite new generations, his family of musicians — who have been the bulwark of progressive funk for decades — has banded together under the nom de plume of Detroit Rising to create one for the ages. Even the old man’s granddaughter, Tonysha Nelson, sings with breathy sexuality. Jam-Band Funk? (Four out of 10 rock on for nine minutes.). Future Jazz? Cosmic Fusion Slop? Call it what you will but as engineered and mixed by Richie Beretta (Beyonce), Tatsuya (A Tribe Called Quest) and Mark Santangelo (Childish Gambino), the sound itself doesn’t flinch, providing a groin-shaking bass while not losing one iota of that attention-to-detail treble.

The A-List musicians who lined up for this pioneering project all have superstar gigs so it had to be recorded on the fly in Detroit, Hollywood, New York City, Baltimore and Florida. Three years in the making, Creative Producer David Schwartz has helped fused funk, soul, rock ’n’roll, techno, world, electronica, dance, pop and jazz.

Prince singer Sue Ann Carwell, Lady Gaga bassist Kern Brantley, Herbie Hancock guitarist Blackbyrd McNight, Parliament-Funkadelic Moog Synthesist Danny Bedrosian and bassist Lige Curry are 5 of 13 musicians who sacrificed their own touring schedules to be a part of this. “Little Bit” takes 9:32 to get its jam across. (It’s been edited down as the first single and is as catchy as a tattoo on the brain.) Composer-vocalist, B Vintage took time out from his work with major stars to sing this jam that’s accentuated by a Hendrixian solo by Duminie Deporres.

“What’s That You Heard” mashes up the Ohio Players, blaxploitation Superfly-styled cinema, Sly & The Family Stone and James Brown in a joint of groovalicious proportions, spearheaded by P-Funk drummer Benzell Cowan. Saxophonist Greg Thomas squeaks and squawks in a spiraling effervescent moon shot but it’s P-Funk bassist Lige Curry who almost steals the show with his accentuated pop. Then there’s P-Funk drummer Gabe Gonzalez knocking himself out with fill after fill. Greg Thomas blows his brains out right through his sax, double- and triple-tracked like a horn-section unto himself. Prince vocalist Sue Ann Carwell’s “Fly To Freedom” was never more in tune with today’s dystopian zeitgeist. “We gotta find a new way to love each other,” she whispers under her breath in-between verses and, man, no greater truth was ever told.

The album ends as it started: with a funk jam for the ages, recorded at Motown, and, as is often the case with this P-Funk crew, no vocals are needed. “Song #4 Part 2 Funk Instrumental” would be the centerpiece of most projects. Here, it’s a goodbye, and it only makes one want to push play one more time.

Detroit Rising: A Cosmic Jazz Funk Adventure will open doors to a 2018 revolution of black sound, refusing to be compartmentalized, analyzed or even asked why. Showcases are in the works as are dance remixes from Joey Negro & Sean McCabe as well as Kaidi Tatham in the U.K. and EVM 128 of the electronica jazz collective known as “Worldwide FM DJ’s Co-Op Selectors Assemble.”

Events at record stores start April 6, 7 and 8 leading up to Record Store Day (April 21) across California, US, UK and Europe. Let the party begin! This is what happens when an entrepreneurial-minded New York samba drummer who is also a producer, composer and arranger, David Schwartz, gives in to his big ideas. His love for this music pours out. You can hear it in the grooves. And this family of P-Funksters, seasoned studio pros, rap and jam instrumentalists made it into a labor of love.

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