California Funk Machine is not just another tribute band. California Funk Machine is not just a collection of music. California Funk Machine is a concept, a style, a coming together of like minded musical brethren to breath new life into some of the hottest Funk, Disco, Soul and Jazz Funk classics of the 70’s and 80’s.
The driving force behind what is envisaged to be a series of volumes is none other than Billboard chart topping artist, Platinum producer and multi instrumentalist Emmanuel “U-Nam” Abiteboul who, since moving to Los Angeles from his native Paris, France in 2008, his built a reputation for knowing Funk like no one else knows Funk.
His contribution to California Funk Machine reaches far and wide. As well as arranging both horns and strings, U-Nam also produces and arranges the entire album. In addition he provides his own virtuoso input with lead and rhythm guitars, talk box, vocoder, lead and background vocals, rap vocals, bass, moog bass, rhodes, clavinet, synth guitar, keyboards, drums, editing & mixing. It places him front back and center of the entire enterprise that includes a plethora of outstanding supporting artists, including some who, back in the 70’s and 80’s, were responsible for creating some of the music that California Funk Machine is now reigniting.
Take for example ex Stevie Wonder and Prince vocalist Marva King who takes the lead on the McFadden & Whitehead smash “Aint No Stoppin’ Us Now” serves as the perfect curtain raiser to what is a very special collection.
Equally so “Ready” Freddie Washington who plays bass on the Maze classic “Back In Stride”. In his time he co-wrote, and was the bass player on, the original recording of Patrice Rushen’s seminal “Forget Me Nots”.
Here, for “Back In Stride”, Washington is teamed with Tony Tatum on vocals and former Maze & Frankie Beverley band members Wayne “Ziggy » Linsey (who plays on the original recording) on clavinet, organ,& rhodes plus Michael White (Maze drummer for 21years!) on drums. Both of these fine players enjoyed time with the band, both in the studio and on the road, for decades.
Another bass player of note, Alex Al, who for over ten years played both bass and keyboards for Michael Jackson (and features on the MJ’s documentary “This Is It”), holds it down on the Brothers Johnson hit “Stomp” for which U-Nam weighs in with a vibrant bass solo and vocals are in the capable hands of Frank Burke. Closing the circle, Frank is a former member of Rod Temperton’s band Heatwave. Temperton co-wrote “Stomp” (with George and Louis Johnson) as well as iconic anthems such as George Benson’s “Give Me The Night”, Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” & “Thriller”.
When vocal duties switch to regular U-Nam contributor Tim “TiO” Owens the outcome is Fat Larry’s Band 1982 signature “Act Like You Know” and George Benson’s “Give Me The Night”, which in its extended form includes a rap from Jeff Lacey.
Another Rod Temperton number, “Motor Mouth”, also makes the cut. This song, that was originally included on Herbie Hancock’s 1982 LP “Lite Me Up” finds U-Nam, with vocals, guitar and on point production, at his scintillating Funk drenched best.
Other gems include the Earth Wind & Fire blockbuster from 1978, “September” (complete with U-Nam and Kim Chandler on backing vocals), Al Jarreau’s “Boogie Down” and a very different version of Atlantic Starr’s “Perfect Love” that U-Nam bestows with an irresistibly hard driving edge which makes it sound brand new.
The CFM line-up is completed by percussionists Denis Benarrosh and Larry Salzmann, The California Funk Machine Orchestra (comprising Maria Grig on violin and viola plus Lyudmila Kadyrbaeva on cello) and finally the California Funk Machine Horns courtesy of Joabe Reis on trombone and Christian Martinez on trumpet and flugelhorn.
As U-Nam himself explains, “…the real purpose of California Funk Machine is to perform live on stage and to support the release of California Funk Machine Volume 1 a world wide tour is already being planned.”
The shows will be where the music, fueled by fun, an evolving set list and surprise guest performers, will really come to life. In fact to lean on the title of another famous track from that musical golden age, “Good Times” are guaranteed and the party atmosphere, built upon classic grooves and marvelous melodies, looks set to rejuvenate even the most tired of dancing feet.
With real strings and real horns California Funk Machine is the real Funk deal. For the legions of Funkateers out there it will bring the memories flooding back. For those discovering Old School Funk for the very first time this is a tremendous place to start.
The message from U-Nam is clear – “May The Funk Be With U”.
Tracklist : 01 Ain’t No Stopping Us Now feat. Marva King 02 September 03 Stomp! 04 Back in Stride 05 Give Me the Night feat. Tim ‘TiO’ Owens 06 Perfect Love 07 Act Like You Know feat. Tim ‘TiO’ Owens 08 Boogie Down 09 Motor Mouth 10 Fantasy 11 Ain’t No Stopping Us Now feat. Marva King (Radio Edit) 12 Give Me the Night feat. Tim ‘TiO’Owens & Jeff Lacey (Extended Version)
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