A glance at the cover, and a jazz listener may go, “What the what?” It’s a photo of a young woman in burlesque apparel squatting over an old – think 1960s era – amplifier. That’s how Rock Candy Funk Party presents their debut album, We Want Groove (J&R Adventures, 2013). Instead of revisiting something like “Groove Is in the Heart,” this jazz-funk effort throws in some rock and a ’60s-early ’70s psychedelic attitude.
The group is comprised of some experienced jazz artists who have also played other styles. They are Tal Bergman, drums and percussion; Ron DeJesus, guitar; Michael Merritt, bass guitar; Renato Neto, keyboards; and Joe Bonamassa, guitar.
The set begins with “Octopus-e,” a hard rock piece fueled by the groove. Think of what might happen if you threw songs by Herbie Hancock, Aerosmith and early Commodores into a blender. Merritt’s bass line and Bergman’s stick work carry the piece no matter what’s going on out front. And what’s out front is that psychedelic vibe provided by the guitars and keys.
The title song, inspired by Miles Davis’ 1982 live instrumental, We Want Miles, sounds like they tried to throw a little James Brown in there along with the other mixtures. Solos in order are by Bonamassa, Neto and DeJesus. As with the other songs, it’s the rhythm section that injects a heavy dose of funk. Merritt, Neto and Bergman are as much of a factor as either guitarist, even though one guitar or the other is usually the lead. For his part, Neto revisits that early 1970s electronic sound, reminiscent of some of the works done by Joe Zawinul, Chick Corea and the aforementioned Hancock.
Rock Candy Funk Party’s members have careers that have crossed paths with Zawinul, Hugh Masekela, Prince, LL Cool J, Chaka Khan, Simple Minds, Billy Idol, Tito Puente, Bruce Springsteen, Rod Stewart, Conan O’Brien, Luther Vandross, Sheila E. and many more. Notwithstanding the artists mentioned earlier in this article, the band members cite Davis, Hancock, Brown, Weather Report, Earth, Wind & Fire, Led Zeppelin and Sly Stone among their inspirations for this project.
The package includes a DVD that includes, “The Making of ‘We Want Groove,’” “In the Studio – Episode 1,” “In the Studio – Episode 2,” and official music video of “Octopus-e.”