In a Funk is the second recording as leader by Illinois-bred composer / arranger Justin Haynes, the first by his eighteen-member Jazz Collective. As was true of his debut album, Shoeless in Georgetown (2015), the most impressive cards are Haynes' splendid charts, ably performed by an ensemble of accomplished and purposeful musicians from the Chicago area.
Haynes wrote five of the session's enticing themes and arranged all of them, raising the curtain in a hard-swinging groove with the impulsive "La Tormenta," which features an unidentifed tenor soloist who it must be assumed is Chip McNeill, an alumnus of bands led by Maynard Ferguson, Woody Herman and Nat Adderley, among others. While Haynes does name a trio of "featured soloists"vocalist Chrys Wilson, flutist Madeline Wood and violinist Haley Schricker none of the Jazz Collective's several soloists is listed, although baritone saxophonist Doug Stone, pianist Whitney Ashe, guitarist George Turner and bassist Andy Crawford stand alone and need not be named.
As for those featured soloists, Wilson sings on Stevie Wonder's "Another Star," whose high point is its enticing rhythm, while Wood is heard (briefly) toward the end of the sensuous "Impressions of You" and Schricker not at allat least, not clearly enough for one resolute listener's ears to discern. Meanwhile, McNeill (presumably) solos again on "In a Funk," with Stone, Ashe and an unlisted trumpet and trombone on Paquito D'Rivera's delightful samba, "Chucho," with Stone and an unnamed alto on Haynes' soulful "Moth Man." Crawford's resonant bass leads the way on "The Quokka," and he solos with McNeill(?) and Turner on Haynes' tantalizing arrangement of the Brazilian standard "Tico Tico," introduced to American audiences by organist Ethel Smith in the 1942 Disney film Saludos Amigos.
The album includes a "bonus" number, Pat Metheny's "Have You Heard," which raises its running time to forty-three minutes. At the halfway point, the track fades out mid-note, then fades back in, as if the helmsmanin a funk?reckoned, "Well, that's a wrap!," then realized, "Oh, there's more?" Moments later the track ends for good, again in mid-phrase. A somewhat shaky ending to what is in most other respects an admirable performance by Haynes and his Jazz Collective.
La Tormenta; In a Funk; Another Star; Impressions of You; Chucho; Moth Man; The Quokka;
Tico-Tico; Have You Heard.
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