The Funk, The Whole Funk and Nothin’ but the Funk
by Elliot Levine – Reviewed by Chris Mann
and keyboard player Elliot Levine has toured with Wilson Pickett and
Heatwave and has opened for Brian McKnight, Freddie Jackson, and McCoy
has had the number 1 song on mp3.com, with over 1 million downloads.
This amazing feat was mentioned in the Wall Street Journal. Elliot has
three internationally released CD’s which have received extensive
airplay and distribution. He has headlined at Blues Alley and the
2003, he scored the music to an Emmy nominated documentary,
Between", which was featured in Film Festivals. His
music was also used on "Inside the NBA" on TBS (2001), as
well as an independent college movie, "Friends
With Benefits" (2003). He has also featured on the Karvavena
release "The Abduction of the Art of Noise". This
funky CD is his fourth solo release.
How funky is it then?
opener Bladum features a great mass of keyboards –
clavinet-style but sounding more like a vocoder.
There’s cool electric piano sound in there too. The bass is
nice and solid, accompanied by drumming which has a great feel.
There’s a very nasal rock guitar solo and a crisp, gorgeous
bass solo. Get Up With
It continues the funky theme Incognito-style with big keyboard
chords and an upfront rhythm guitar.
The bass is sparse and really effective – which gives lots of
room for keyboard soloing, some of it quite intense.
There’s that rock guitar again…
fake human beatbox opens Clear It.
I’m not sure why. The piano has a real Marcus Johnson feel and phrasing – I
love it. The bass and
drums again sound excellent – and live I think.
The scratching could have been more vicious if the rhythm had
been harder to match. The
beatbox thing could have been scrapped – so could the guitar.
Prince’s When 2R in Love sounds very gentle like
70’s Bob James music. The
chorused guitar is too intrusive, in contrast with the subtle rhythm
section. The overall
atmosphere is like very old Earth Wind & Fire - and for me
Yes is another
gently funky song featuring acoustic piano in a Marcus Johnson style.
This soothing ballad has a nice rise and fall in intensity as
it progresses. Get
Funky With It “does exactly what it says on the tin” and in a
very simple way. The
combination of keyboard sounds used is strong, as it is on all the
tracks here. I particularly like the organ sound. This is funky, bluesy and a bit, well, sleazy.
I like it.
favourite song, though, is Sweet Funk Suite.
The piano sits back on this smoother-than-smooth groove.
The drum track again is subtle – set in a very appealing live
acoustic. There’s a Lee
Ritenour-style percussive guitar sound.
Mmm, more of this and less of the axe-attack please.
Is this an Andy Narell album?
That lovely steel drum sound and funky bass on Saturday
Night at the Wall Street Lounge would make you think so.
The chord sequences used on this song have that good-time,
summertime feel too. What
a lovely atmosphere.
Groove is now an
overworked idea and title but this is a good original composition.
Sounds like a Yamaha electric grand and therefore fantastic!
I’d have been happy for the guitar to be left out – it’s not
needed. It’s called Yeah
and it’s deep jazzy funk. The
lush, woody bass sound is overlaid with smoky, seductive alto sax.
This captures much of the atmosphere of Roy Ayers’ better
music from the ‘70’s. Listen
– you’ll know what I mean by that. What can I say? Yeah!!!
a strong vocal performance on the on the romantic ballad I Want to
Know – with a hint of Will
Downing. Good cymbal work shines out in this simple and very effective
good cymbal work on the closer Breathe too, which has shades of
Dexter Wansel. Levine
uses warm and cuddly electric piano in place of the more dramatic and
high-tech sounds Wansel is known for.
My rough notes say “old-fashioned and lovely”.
Makes me want to dig out my old copy of Wansel’s
“Voyager” – which can’t be bad.
(like me) you haven’t heard of Elliot Levine before and maybe this
CD won’t turn your world upside down.
While summer is still with us, though, play it in your car and
turn it up and you’ll realize that the title isn’t an idle boast:
there are no club anthems here but the funk runs right through this
album and it will grow on you.
label or producer credits – CD available from CDBaby.com