Crescent City to become the ‘Funk Capital of the World’ on June 15
13th June 2011 · 0 Comments
By Geraldine Wyckoff
The Louisiana Weekly
Bootsy is coming! Bootsy is coming! That cry heralds the arrival — perhaps by spacecraft — of Bootsy Collins, one of the funkiest, bedazzling, psychedelically-bent bassists on planet Earth. In celebration of his new, get-down album, Tha Funk Capital of the World, Bootsy and his 13-piece, all-star crew land at Tipitina’s on Wednesday, June 15, as part of his first headlining tour in 16 years. The players include notables such as P-Funk conspirators keyboardists Bernie Worrell and Razor Sharp Johnson, drummer Frankie Kash and guitarist Blackbyrd McKnight, Public Enemy’s bassist/vocalist Colonel Hargrove and The Pretenders and Shocka Zooloo’s bassist/vocalist Tim Steven plus a horn section and background vocalists.
Bootsy of the signature star-shaped shades, platform boots and sparkling red outfits first caught major attention in the late 1960s as the suit-clad, bad young bassist William Collins in the legendary James Brown’s band. It’s Collins’ bass heard on The Godfather of Soul’s hits like “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” and “Super Bad.” Under this master’s tutorship, Collins emerged from the experience with the absolute knowledge that “funk hinges on the one (beat).” He embraced that concept throughout his over 40-year career that included laying it down with monsters like Parliament-Funkedelic and George Clinton’s P-Funk nation as well in his own Bootsy’s Rubber Band.
Collins purpose in producing Tha Funk Capital of the World and pulling in an array of guests artists, including Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Chuck D, Musiq Soulchild, Sheila E, George Duke, George Clinton, Ron Carter and more, was to make sure that today’s musicians and audiences remember those “who opened the door” and the links between the music of now and then. The late Jimi Hendrix, one of Bootsy’s first inspirations, is bowed to early when he’s heard doing an interview before his “Mirrors Tell Lies” cranks up.
On the album, Bootsy with the help of Rev. Al Sharpton, pays tribute to Brown on “J.B. Is Still the Man.” “He taught the world to be on the one,” Sharpton speaks while the band plays in the mode of the late king. The song goes out with the refrain, “Say it loud, long live James Brown.”
There’s an abundance of consciousness-raising lyrics directed, primarily, at the next generation. These thoughts and suggestions are delivered in a variety of styles — funk, hip hop, contemporary rhythm and blues, jazz, soul — depending on the featured artist. Naturally, Ice Cube, Chuck D and Snoop Dogg tell it in a rap on “Hip Hop@ Funk U” offering up that it’s not all about the money. Meanwhile, over a strong melody and a funky beat, Dr. Cornell West declares “…we need words of encouragement, we need words of gentleness…” on “Freedumb (When Love Becomes a Threat).”
The great Bobby Womack and Bootsy’s late brother, guitarist Phelps “Catfish” Collins, who also played with James Brown and the P-Funk collective, are heard together on the soulfully melodic “Don’t Take My Funk.” This gem stands as a love song to the genre, treating it as if it was a women.
At the bottom of the 17 cuts is Bootsy, the Bootzilla bassist, magic creator, vivacious vocalist, florescent spaceship captain and, yes, socially conscious educator.
When this vortex of funk and dazzling finery stands at the center of his Bootsy-fied “on the one” universe at Tipitina’s, he’ll again prove that the capital of funk isn’t a specific locale. It’s wherever this Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famer and his like-minded funksters roam.
Edward Petersen and The Test
As is his usual way, Ed Petersen immediately steps up and makes a tonal statement on The Mission’s opening cut, “This One’s for Wilbur.” This type of attack proves to be one of the tenor saxophonist’s most identifying characteristics. He doesn’t mess around. Whether a tune, all of which are penned by the leader, is a ballad or experiments with the music’s structural boundaries, Petersen wrenches each note with determination to make it suit his vision, his purpose.
Petersen, an associate professor of music at the University of New Orleans, and his band, The Test, so named, in part, because of his and the band members’ affiliation with UNO, celebrate the album’s release at Snug Harbor on Thursday, June 16. The group includes the saxophonist’s fellow jazz faculty member/pianist Victor Atkins plus alumni of the university’s jazz program bassist Tarik Hassan and drummer Paul Thibodeaux.
“The Test” is also the name of a cut that lives up to its title. It’s a speed demon of a song, one in a free flight of excitement. It might also describe how a musician might feel when experiencing the challenging ride presented by Petersen’s explosive, savvy horn. Let’s just say, the band The Test passes the examination on the tune “The Test.” The always tasteful Atkins adds melodic beauty while keeping up the pace with his fluidity. Thibodeaux’s light touch offers crispness and a flavor of Africa and Hassan’s round bass mellows the vibe before Petersen squeezes out, almost literally, the last few notes.
Ed Petersen, a gift from Chicago that the Windy City’s jazz fans reluctantly handed over when he was lured to New Orleans by UNO, gives every ounce of his great passion, dexterity and knowledge to the music every time. The Mission of all-encompassing jazz is accomplished. The Mission swings, moans, explores and dances until the title cut’s wonderfully lingering last bars.
This story originally published in the June 13, 2011 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.