Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Brothers Goldman - fOnkOlOgy


Waveriders, I come to you here with contrition  I beg your forgiveness.  I just listened to The Brothers Goldman 2011 release fOnkOlOgy.  Not only should I have brought it to your attention earlier, I should have known this off-the-charts masterpiece was coming.

Here’s why -

Bill Phillippe, a master composer and producer, as well as singer and guitarist, fronts Joe  O’Loughlin on drums.  Together they are The Brothers Goldman.  For fOnkOlOgy they augmented the band and this is why I should have known this was coming.  The Brothers Goldman used some of San Francisco’s best funk, jazz and afro-pop artists on fOnkOlOgy. Wil Blades (Stanton Moore Trio) plays the Hammond B-3. Joe Cohen (The Brass Mafia) plays the tenor sax. Joel Behrman (Lavay Smith) plays trumpet and trombone.  Will Magid (Afrolicious) plays trumpet.  Tim Wagar (Marc Hummel) plays the bass.  With all of that top Bay Area talent as sidemen you would think I would have heard of this project.  Look, I purport to be a music reviewer in the Bay Area.  One would at least hope I have my ear on the beat of the local music community, right?  I never heard of fOnkOlOgy until the CD and press materials showed up in my mailbox.

In fact, until that day I had never heard of “Tantric fOnk.”  That is what The Brothers Goldman call their style. I call it incredible fun.  It is cutting edge New Orleans funk, shuffle, blues and acid jazz.  It is unique, innovative, exciting and familiar.  Here’s my best descriptions of the eleven tracks:

1. Brahma fOnk:  This is the juke joint jam instrumental track of all juke joint jam tracks with a funky red beans and rice a’ roni finish.

2. Squeezin’ Lemons:  The blues meet funk and soul as The Brothers be squeezin’ lemons to make lemonade.  James Brown is slow-dancing in his grave and Phillippe’s vocals makes him wink and smile.

3. Nuts On The GO!:  Holy Filmore District!  We go from fascinating Stan Kenton big band jazz syncopation to hot B.B. King-like big band blues and back again.

4. Sticks & Stones:  Heavy drag blues that leads to a high energy free for all and then back down.  Phillippe again is our reassuring vocal travel guide.  

5. Where’s Houseman?:  This one is like a great Robben Ford piece.  It has an intricate driving beat covered by a great guitar line with an effective use of a wah wah pedal.  The horns also get a chance to wail. The Hammond doubles and provides a bass note.

6. Muffin Top:  Competes with Larry Carlton’s work on his album Sapphire Blue.  It is progressive jazz and blues and aural mastery.  O’Loughlin’s drums amaze and here they shine.

7. Zig & Leo:  Funky!  I mean real fOnky.  Think “dance floor bump and grind dancing” funky.  The Hammond gets to let loose and so does Phillippe’s guitar.  Phillippe adds just the right taste of sparse vocals to keep it on track. 

8. fOnky Bottom:  Move on out to the disco dance floor with this one’s double entendre repetition and obsession with a girl’s “fOnky bottom.”  The horns get a work out and Joe Cohen takes us on a tenor sax tour of the nightclub.  Still, you can’t stop moving.

9. Monkey:  A soul blues - The sound of Stax/Volt in 1965 updated to 2011.  (Go ahead Phillippe. Tell us not to monkey.)

10. Let the fOnk:  A dance tune.  Like The Twist, The Watusi, The Swim.  This one’s the

11.  Goin’ To Be fOnky From Now On:  This is a lo-fi outro that has The Brothers affirming their desire to stay fOnky.

So again, waveriders, I apologize.  I should have known of The Brothers Goldman and this Bay Area project.   Here, I’ll make it up to you.  You can freely download a track and listen to several others over at The Brothers Goldman’s website.  So hurry on over there, listen ,buy the album.  Get fOnked!!!

- Old School  

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