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Michael Ray and the Cosmic Krewe: Funk If I Know

Jack Bowers By

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Running short of fresh musical ideas? Well, how about a catchy album title? That should help. Oh, and throw in some outlandish photos of the leader to accentuate his “other–worldly” persona (on the order of Sun Ra), furnish the group with a similarly far–out name and make sure the songs also bear titles that are expressly designed to appeal to a younger audience. Actually, trumpeter Michael Ray and the members of his Cosmic Krewe seem to be capable musicians, able to dress in a variety of styles from street–wise Jazz and ultra–hip rapping to themes from the swing era, Latin America and the Caribbean (which they do). Does the music measure up to what is being produced by other such groups? Funk if I know. It’s an outsized kettle of stew they’re cooking, that’s for sure. Whenever they avoid the more obvious pitfalls (synthesized overlays, vapid rap lyrics, over–used special effects and so on) the music can be quite pleasant, as on “Yolinda,” “Latin Monkey,” “Big John Special,” “Dance of the Cosmos Aliens” and, believe it or not, the title selection, whose funk is explicit but securely harnessed. Solos aren’t plentiful, but trombonist Glasgo fares nicely on “Funk If I Know,” there’s a respectable uncredited tenor solo on “Cosmos Aliens” and breezy choruses by (we presume) Ray’s muted trumpet and Grippo’s alto sax on Horace Henderson’s bustling “Big John Special” (a few more charts like that one would have been welcome). If funk is your bag, check out the Cosmic Krewe. Are they eloquent spokesmen for that brand of music? Funk if I know.

Track listing: Cosmic City; Funk If I Know; Yolinda; Earthrite; Latin Monkey; Neon Cosmos; Worry Bout Dat; Cosmos #2; Angels and Demons at Play; Watusi; Big John Special; Made a Mistake; 6666; Dance of the Cosmos Aliens (60:19).


Personnel:

Michael Ray, trumpet, synth, vocals; Eddie Dejean, drums, vocals; Bob Gullotti, drums; Kevin O

Title: Funk If I Know | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Monkey Hill


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