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Free Form Funky Freqs: Urban Mythology: Volume One

Mark Corroto By

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Your patience will be tested. You heard me: the ability to sit through the entire 58 minutes of Urban Mythology: Volume One at high volume is an act of perseverance. The power trio known as Free Form Funky Freqs brings on the noise with such intensity that it is best served in small bites (but at high volume, of course.)

FFFF—the group better known in its individual identities as guitarist Vernon Reid, bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma, and drummer G. Calvin Weston—have played this music in other variations. Reid might be most famous as a member of Living Colour, but he was a recognized guitar master before he was a rock star, playing with Ronald Shannon Jackson's Decoding Society. Lately, he has been the other half of Yohimbe Brothers with DJ Logic, as well as the guitar of choice in James Blood Ulmer's rootsy blues recordings. Likewise, Weston has recorded with a range of prominent crossover artists, including Ulmer, John Lurie's Lounge Lizards and Ornette Coleman's Prime Time Bands; in Coleman's group he shared the stage with Jamaaladeen Tacuma. At one point the Philadelphia bassist Tacuma branched off into his own form of funky dance music, but lately has stuck close to funk and jazz.

This recording, subtitled Volume One (and lets hope there will be a second), began as a get together for the closing of the infamous Tonic performance space in New York. Soon afterwards, the trio played a second gig, and then recorded this CD at their third meeting.

Loaded with fiery rock, free-form jazz and funk, the disc opens with a twelve-minute jam, "A Tale Of Two Bridges"—certainly a reference to the Hurricane Katrina disaster. The song morphs from monster chords into guitar synth rock and pure energy funk, daring you to spin the second track. The heavy bass laid by Tacuma on "Don Cheadle" sets up the funk for Reid's solo flight. Like much of this record, the drumming is fiercely geared towards the rock genre, but with enough changes and flavor to please a jazz audience. The energy continues on the fast-then-faster "Over And Under," the disco-driven "Nappy Hour," the Southern rock-influenced "Chump Champ Chunk," and the video game soundtrack of "Street Corner Prophecy."

This music brings to mind the old saying: "If it's too loud, you're too old."


Track Listing: A Tale Of Two Bridges; Don Cheadle; Ghost Sign Crossroad; Over And Under; A Lost Way Found; Nappy Hour; Chump Champ Chunk; Get Your Legs On; Doing Within; Street Corner Prophecy.

Personnel: Vernon Reid: guitar, guitar-synth, laptop; Jamaaladeen Tacuma: bass; G. Calvin Weston: drums.

Title: Urban Mythology: Volume One | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings


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