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Jim Manley: Funk Factory

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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When the great Renaissance sculptor and artist Michelangelo assumed the commission to create his giant, David, he knew he was working with a piece of marble that not only had significant taroli, i.e., imperfections, but also that had been abandoned by two prior artisans. While trumpeter Jim Manley's Funk Factory might not wind up in the likes of the Louvre, this latest artistic effort from the ace trumpeter, composer—and production—master is certainly worthy of the highest artistic acclaim. It's as perfectly formed as it gets.

Delivering ten exciting original selections over a series of brilliantly selected and downloaded rhythm bed "loops," Manley and his buds exhibit two heaping handfuls of the finest funk this side of Florence. This neat follow-up to Manley's similarly created Chilled Brass (Self-produced, 2014) is an even more exciting display of superb trumpeting, composition and production skills. It's his best.

The title cut opens the ultra-high-energy session with Manley overdubbing the trumpets (as he did all trumpets/brass for the date) over a clap-track funk groove in a Bill Chase-like upper register fireworks foray. It's not long before the altissimo register is tongue-kissed—as you'd expect from this former Maynard Ferguson bandsman. However, Manley throughout the date knows what's musical up there and what's goofy showing off. His chops are deservedly right there with both revered legends. And, his stretching out improv is simultaneously tasteful and exciting.

Manley's composition skills are absolutely ideal for this type of effort. In fact, they are superb ("Cha Bow Wow," "Fly Away"). The heads he's written work exceptionally well, fitting hand-glove with the neatly intense and varying Funk/Rock grooves pulsing underneath ("FunkNasty," "Moon Dreams"). The take-away from these Manley-penned tunes is that they are simple, ear-worm memorable and Hell of a lot of fun(k).

As he's shown consistently throughout his recording career—whether working with downloaded loops or not—Manley is also a premier producer/arranger who has an innate sense of what works and what doesn't. Perhaps the most intense—and intensely satisfying cuts here are the driving "Manic Meltdown" and the techno-funked up and very muscular "Popeye's Nightmare" (complete with sailor's hornpipe cliché tag).

Guitarist Jeff Snider is right at home on this date burning with up-near-the-guitar-body wizardry throughout ("Popeye's Nightmare"). Keyboardist Jim Owens, who's recorded with Manley before, is down for the entire funky effort. Their fine work here along with Manley's sends up a seamless fit with the pre-record.

While Michelangelo's studio might have been a little funky with marble chips flying helter-skelter as he chipped away at his creation, Jim Manley's Funk Factory stands tall and shoots off nothing but sparks. It's a white-hot funkfest where asbestos headphones are highly recommended.

Track Listing: Funk Factory; Cha Bow Wow; Fly Away; FunkNasty; Fast Cars; Manic Meltdown; Popeye's Nightmare; Moon Dreams; Late Night Party On Mars; It's A Jungle Out There.

Personnel: Jim Manley: trumpets, other brass; Jeff Snider: guitar; Jim Owens: keyboards.

Title: Funk Factory | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced


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