=Monday, July 28, 2008

Funk Inc. - Bowlegs - Prestige

Trunk of F.U.N.K. singles is back again this week with the first of what I expect to be many jazz funk sides to be presented here.

Bowlege -Funk Inc. - Prestige

Ohio-native Bobby Watley began performing as a drummer at the age of 15. Later, while working alongside a variety of organists, including Winston Walls, Manuel Riggins, and Lonnie Smith, he made the decision to switch to the organ himself. Mostly teaching himself to play, he has also acknowledge insight from acclaimed players such as Brother Jack McDuff. In 1969, after a request by the owner of the Indianapolis club Surf Side Seven for a house band to back vocalists, he pulled together guitarist Steve Weekley, tenor saxophonist Eugene Barr, conga player Cecil Hunt, and former James Brown drummer Jimmy Munford, who collectively came to be known as Funk Inc. During their work at Surf Side Seven, Funk Inc. caught the attention of Jack McDuff and Houston Person. Here's where a couple of conflicting stories begin to emerge. Some references indicate that the band sent a demo recording to Bob Porter, a producer at Prestige, with a letter of recommendation from McDuff, while a different story indicates that McDuff and Person passed word on to Porter directly (if anyone out there has a more definitive answer, I'd certainly appreciate more accurate information). Regardless of how they got there, Funk Inc. was soon signed to Jazz-Funk powerhouse Prestige Records. Today's selection, "Bowlegs", is taken from Funk Inc.'s first LP for Prestige, "Funk Inc.", which is the only Funk Inc. record produced by Bob Porter. The band recorded two more 'acid-jazz' LPs for Prestige, "Chicken Lickin'" and "Hangin' Out", before trying to move to slicker production in the mid-70's. The pressure and disagreement of reinventing the sound of the group proved to be too much as Funk Inc. disbanded in 1976. In 1995, Funk Inc. reassembled to begin recording for Prestige again, resulting in the release of the album, "Urban Renewal".

P.S. If you dig this side and can't get enough of Funk Inc., the fine people at Fantasy records have done a bang-up job re-issuing "Funk Inc.", "Chicken Lickin'", and, "Hangin' Out" on CD and LP.

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