funk music

How the funk pioneer and his intrepid band changed musical culture.

Would you believe that I once auditioned for the J.B.’s … on organ!? Unfortunately, it happened. In 1992, my manager at the time somehow convinced me to accept a studio session and failed to mention that this session was on Hammond organ, with the J.B.’s! Needless to say, it didn’t go well, and thus, I continued to admire James Brown’s music, on bass, from afar.

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Rig Rundown: Nile Rodgers

Since the early ’70s, the guitar legend has trusted his 1960 “Hitmaker” Strat to turn out chart-toppers that have changed the course of music history and shaped cultures around the world. We explore its unusual origins and DNA as well as uncover some ordinary tools making extraordinary grooves.

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The Free Form Funky Freqs—guitarist Vernon Reid, bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma, and drummer Calvin Weston—never play a note together before a show. Not even during soundcheck.

Photo by Sound Evidence

Living Colour’s guitarist and the ex-Ornette Coleman bassist let their Free Form Funky Freqs flags fly on the new Hymn of the 3rd Galaxy.

How many bands can pinpoint the exact number of times they’ve played together? “It’s rare,” acknowledges guitarist Vernon Reid of Free Form Funky Freqs, the power trio he co-leads with bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma and drummer G. Calvin Weston. Because “Free Form” is meant quite seriously—not a note of the music is planned in advance—every Freqs performance is a wholly unrepeatable event with its own distinct marker. This includes the three FFFF studio albums to date. The just-released Hymn of the 3rd Galaxy was performance number 73. Urban Mythology, Vol. 1, the band’s 2008 debut, was number three, after kickoff gigs at Tonic in New York and Tritone in Philadelphia (both defunct). Bon Vivant, the 2013 sophomore release, was number 15.

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