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Now that’s what I call a band! No fewer than 90 musicians representing about 50 different bands came together to create the funk outfit The Big Ol Nasty Getdown and their debut album Volume 1. This massive undertaking was the brainchild of bassist John Heintz of the band Trulio Disgracias, multi-instrumentalists John-Paul Miller and Derrick Johnson, both of Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band.
The line up for The Big Ol Nasty Getdown includes musicians and vocalists such as the George Clinton, the iconic leader of Parliament/Funkadelic who has been sampled by countless hip hop artists, and drummer Alvin Ford Jr. of the group Bonerama, best known in New Orleans or among music fans who gravitate toward the grittier jazz based funk that emanates from the Bayou.
Making an all-star album that features this many all-stars is a risky proposition. The effort could meander and never really develop an identity. Or the record might suffer because so many top-flight musical chefs stuck their fingers in the pot and listeners end up with a big helping of ego. Fortunately, Volume 1 suffers from neither shortcoming. The project is diverse while never losing its focus.
There is a temptation to stereotype funk music as solely featuring up-tempo dance tunes that fuse rock, jazz and R&B. However, the genre also draws in elements of folk and balladry. Here, singer Belita Woods delivers a bluesy performance on the torch song “I Will Wait For You” and then teams with Ralph Roddenbery on the folk influenced ballad “Wake Me Up.”
But Volume 1 also delivers plenty of plucking and thumping on the bass, witty and irreverent lyricism and the kind of sonic horn play that made funk music an American music treasure. Instrumentals such as “Platinum” and the award winning “College Funk” remind listeners of the places where funk and jazz intersect. Both tracks showcase musicians who are experts at improvisation, while also laying down some infectious grooves that will fill dance floors.
With so much focus placed on those grooves, listeners often sleep on funk music’s lyrical content. However, from “Include Me,” a humorous plea by a neglected woman to be included in her lovers conquests, to “Room 2012” a rollicking invitation from vocalist Reverend Desmond DeAngelo to watch the end of the world from a hotel room, the lyrics on Volume 1 pop. The writers, composers, musicians and singers were definitely on point when they created the magisterial project. The album’s title leads me to believe that a Volume 2 is in the offing. I certainly hope so. This is one big ol’ nasty getdown that I’ll take any time. Highly Recommended
By Howard Dukes