Funk Shui NYC – Shark NATO on a Plane( ZOHO ZM202001. CD/Digital. Album Review by Adam Sieff)Funk Shui NYC is a 16-piece New York-based ensemble mixing up funk, jazz, film music and even a touch of classic rock. The pun of the album title explains a great deal, although I didn’t get it until someone pointed out the series of six ‘Sharknado’ sci-fi disaster films (2013-18). There’s a healthy dose of irreverent New York musician humour here, both in the conception and the writing. If it helps them stand out from the crowd, then more power to them. But you can ignore the shtick and just listen to their exciting and uplifting funky jazz.
I headed straight for the third track ‘What Barney?’ inspired by two of my favourite pieces of music: the theme to the Barney Miller TV series and ‘So What.’ Although it isn’t as strong as either of them (how could it be?) it does work, set to a hip hop beat the Barney bass line is given new clothes and there are some familiar sounding trumpet lines. There’s plenty of energy and some juicy solos from guitarist Noel Cohen, tenor saxophonist Stan Killian, trumpeter Seneca Black and baritone saxophonist Dave Morgan. In fact, it’s Morgan and trombonist Rob Susman who lead this band of New York sidemen and session players who all seem to be having a great time throughout the ten tracks on this album.
Some songs work better than others: Cream’s rock standard ‘I Feel Free’ features a fine arrangement by Dave Morgan with a ferocious groove from bassist Dan Asher and drummer Peter Grant and a nice alto sax duel from Chris Hemingway and Charles Lee. Rob Susman’s title track has a latin/rock feel and is described as ‘like Bo Diddley playing a Greek Wedding’. I enjoyed the 1970s feel of ‘July Groove/September Funk’ and the smart ‘Professional Development’ featuring Morgan’s satisfying charts and some more excellent soloing from tenor saxophonist Stan Killian and Trumpeter Jordan Hirsch. I could live without their take on ‘Summertime’ which almost had me fast forwarding and the rocky ‘Rock Bottom’ feels a little out of place here, although must be impressive live.
Recorded independently over a three-year period, this album gives a strong idea of what a fun event a Funk Shui NYC gig must be. Until that time returns, play this loud and social distancing won’t feel quite so lonely.
LINKS: Funk Shui Music NYC on FacebookZOHO Music website