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Brooklyn Funk Essentials: Stay Good

Chris M. Slawecki By

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Back in the day, jazz bands like Roy Ayers' Ubiquity and soul bands like the Ohio Players played more than jazz and soul. Jazz and soul were their main ingredient, but only one ingredient among others stirred in from R&B, funk, pop, Latin and other music. You might have heard them on different radio stations, but they shared that same groove back in the day. Somehow, Brooklyn Funk Essentials have stayed back in the day and stepped it forward into a new old school sound on Stay Good. "In many ways," muses Swedish bassist and producer Lati Kronlund, "Brooklyn Funk Essentials has morphed into something completely new. But we're all committed to stay good, to continue developing and improving as musicians."

Stay Good brings Brooklyn Funk Essentials (BFE) full circle. Kronlund first teamed with London-based singer-songwriter Alison Limerick on "Where Love Lives," a 1990 danceclub hit so successful that it prompted Kronlund to move to Manhattan and put together the band that eventually became BFE. In 2016, Limerick accepted Kronlund's invitation to sing at a BFE gig in London, and then the band's invitation to join them in the studio to record Stay Good.

"Stay Good" kicks things off with just the sneaky, snakey rhythm track, then blossoms like a flower into a more colorful and Prince-like funk sound. Falsetto vocals flutter and sing, "I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna do it..." as bassist Kronlund and drummer Roma Hux Nettermalm illustrate cool dexterity in the international language of funk. "Stay Good" honors the classic soul and funk sound of the 1970s without getting stuck back there; it would have filled a dancefloor decades ago and could fill one tonight.

Stay Good doesn't forget the instrumental jam to shake your jelly. Saxophonist Anna Brooks pokes out the sticky melody to "Bahabana," which sounds like the George Duke band playing hard bop in his chatty electric funk style, and comes out swinging again with Kronlund in "Y Todavia La Quiero" upon Nettermalm's New Orleans shuffle drumbeat, slippery and hard to nail down but so rock solid.

Sure enough, Roy Ayers himself pops up in in the shimmering "Breeze on Me," a ballad so steamy that Ayers' vibes and Iwan Van Hetten's brooding trumpet blues seem to rise up like shimmering heatwaves from its luscious mix.

BFE shuts Stay Good down with a glistening, soulful update of "Where Love Lives," Kronlund and Limerick's first tune together, to bring their funk full circle—back to the day.

Track Listing

Stay Good; Ain't Nothing; No Strings; Watcha Want From Me; Miss Mess; Keep the Love; Funk Ain't Ova; Breeze on Me; Bahabana; Y Todavia La Quiero; Steps; Where Love Lives.

Personnel

Anna Brooks: saxophones, vocals; Desmond Foster: guitar, lead vocals; Jonah Gold: live sounds, studio dubs; Lati Kronlund: bass, keyboards; Alison Limerick: lead vocals; Roma Hux Nettermalm: drums, percussion; Iwan Van Hetten: trumpet, keyboards, vocals; Roy Ayers; vibraphone; Leena Conquest: vocals.

Album information

Title: Stay Good | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Dorado Records

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