Funk

Jazz music community with review and forums

The worlds of jazz and funk have been intertwined since the early days when James Brown brought us the One. Both genres have been such an influence on each other over the years that it is often hard to tell where one starts and the other ends.

The funk genre at JMA is not an exhaustive list of all the funk bands in the world, but is instead a list of the best, most pure funk bands that are of the most interest to jazz fans. Our definition of pure funk can be found in the music of James Brown, Bootsy Collins and Parliament.

Funk is a genre that is often misunderstoood, poorly imitated and pimped for all the wrong reasons. You will find none of that at JMA. Its hard to describe what is pure funk, but often it involves interweaving snippets of syncopated melody that intertwine in circles within loops and land on the one every other bar. Funk artists such as Bootsy and Parliament, with their constant improvised polyphony, are closer to the concept of early jazz than most jazz artists since the 1930s.

funk top albums

Showing only albums and live's | Based on members ratings & JMA custom algorithm | 24 hours caching

PARLIAMENT Mothership Connection Album Cover Mothership Connection
PARLIAMENT
4.81 | 11 ratings
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SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE Life (aka M'Lady) Album Cover Life (aka M'Lady)
SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE
4.83 | 3 ratings
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TROY 'TROMBONE SHORTY' ANDREWS Backatown Album Cover Backatown
TROY 'TROMBONE SHORTY' ANDREWS
4.62 | 4 ratings
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FUNKADELIC Let's Take It to the Stage Album Cover Let's Take It to the Stage
FUNKADELIC
4.47 | 7 ratings
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FUNKADELIC America Eats Its Young Album Cover America Eats Its Young
FUNKADELIC
4.39 | 8 ratings
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SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE Stand! (aka Everyday People) Album Cover Stand! (aka Everyday People)
SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE
4.31 | 16 ratings
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FUNKADELIC Hardcore Jollies Album Cover Hardcore Jollies
FUNKADELIC
4.31 | 4 ratings
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RICK JAMES Cold Blooded Album Cover Cold Blooded
RICK JAMES
4.33 | 3 ratings
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JAMES BROWN The Payback Album Cover The Payback
JAMES BROWN
4.19 | 6 ratings
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PARLIAMENT Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome Album Cover Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome
PARLIAMENT
4.15 | 6 ratings
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FUNKADELIC One Nation Under A Groove Album Cover One Nation Under A Groove
FUNKADELIC
4.11 | 9 ratings
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FUNKADELIC Standing on the Verge of Getting It On Album Cover Standing on the Verge of Getting It On
FUNKADELIC
4.00 | 8 ratings
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This list is in progress since the site is new. We invite all logged in members to use the "quick rating" widget (stars bellow album covers) or post full reviews to increase the weight of your rating in the global average value (see FAQ for more details). Enjoy JMA!

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funk Music Reviews

CAMEO Word Up!

Album · 1986 · Funk
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CounterClockWorld
Funk has an interesting evolution to me. The 50s/60s had R&B that would go on to become a more repetitive and jam band oriented genre artists like JAMES BROWN and WAR are some examples but the 70s saw fit to evolve the genre into having synths, and larger horn sections, (PARLIAMENT being the prime example) however the 80s threw horns away, it was all about synths and drum machines and the synth funk of the 80s even started to incorporate hip hop, at its infancy. PRINCE, ZAPP and CAMEO are the big three of the 80s funk scene imo although some might disagree, this band can get very 80s at times but I honestly love it, every track here is just fun, the track "She's Mine" is a fun, funky 80s hip hop track and do I even need to mention the track "Candy"? Overall this album is a blast and has always been a personal favorite of mine, I wish I could go into greater detail about this album but tbh I don't know how to sum it up other then "It's good, it's fun" sorry if this is a lackluster review lol

JAMES BROWN The Payback

Album · 1973 · Funk
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AshtrayHeart
One of the masterpiece albums by the lengadry James Brown, The Payback is an essential funk album for any record collection, a classic album in general. Funky guitars, gritty polish production, drums on the one, and almost every jam settling around 10 minutes long and lots of hip hops DNA is here. The album is insanely consistent and is easily James's best album Perhaps not recommended for the casual soul listener, this is a collection of extended jams, there's even parts on the album that remind me of Fela Kuti the funk(or just the sound in general) here is what I'd describe as "deep" or "thick" if that makes sense. James's vocal performance here is amazing as well even his grunts are powerful everything here just has this carisma to it. Words can't describe how good this album is reading reviews doesn't do it justice, what are you waiting for listen to this!!

THE UNDISPUTED TRUTH Higher Than High

Album · 1975 · Funk
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js
The Undisputed Truth is one of those bands that deserves much more recognition. If you like guitar heavy psychedelic funk bands along the lines of Funkadelic, early Ohio Players and the psyched-out version of the Temptations, then Truth’s album, “Higher than High”, should be your sort of thang. Undisputed Truth had a big RnB hit in 1971 with “Smiling Faces”, but never again connected with the charts on that level again. As they moved into the mid 70s, psych-funk music director Norman Whitfield of Motown Records was losing his influence on the Temptations, as they wanted to go back to more romantic material, so Norman decided to focus on Truth instead as they morphed from a somewhat commercial RnB/soul band to a very far out congregation of super freaks led by vocalist supreme Joe Harris.

Just look at the album cover to “Higher”, here we see silver afros atop painted faces atop thin bodies clothed in metallic capes and one piece body suits from Mars. Take the album out of the cover and the fun continues with some super charged funk with no trace of phony RnB love dirges. Opening track, “Higher tha High” sets the piece with rapid change ups, intense energy and a circus of gospel voices in constant motion. Next up we get a very Funkadelic sounding “Poontang” with Joe showing that rap definitely did not start with the Sugar Hill gang in the late 70s. After the relentless boogie of “Boogie Bump Boogie”, we get a short psych-jazz instrumental section that was probably stretched out in concert. In fact, a lot of the songs on here fade too soon, I bet that didn’t happen in a live context.

Side two opens with some twangy southern country funk including twin harmonizing guitars in an Allmans/Skynard style. The next two tracks take the band in a more rock direction with “I’m in the Red Zone” sounding like the old Carlos Santana and Neal Schon guitar unison combo, and “Overload” going in a Foghat type heavy thud. The last two tracks are okay, but the energy is starting to fade a bit at this point. The sound and arrangements on here are outstanding, this is a Norman Whitfield production and it shows.

JAMES BROWN Reality

Album · 1974 · Funk
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js
In 1974 James Brown was, to cop one of his favorite expressions, standing at the crossroads. In the late 60s and early 70s James was one of the most influential artists in popular music, his introduction of a new syncopated music called the ‘funk’ had a huge influence on RnB, rock, jazz, blues and gospel, but as the 70s progressed, new younger bands like Parliament, Earth Wind & Fire and the Ohio Players were making him seem more and more like yesterday’s news. Brown’s ‘74 opus, “Reality”, had some good tracks on it, but it also showed signs that James was starting to turn to material that was not of the same caliber as his previous output. There are no musician credits on “Reality“, so more than likely these are just studio cats, plus James and his long standing horn arranger, Fred Wesley.

The album opens fairly strong with the title cut and “Funky President”. Both songs have James rapping more politics than usual as he expresses concerns about the US being in a moral tailspin while also encouraging his fellow African - Americans to show unity with one another while expanding their independence and self reliance when dealing with the world of ‘the man’. The next two tracks are in an almost older RnB style, but real signs of trouble come when James tries to funkify folk classic, “Don’t Fence Me In”. Side two starts off on the ‘good foot’, but “I’m Broken Hearted” drags things down again with overlays of cringy male sex sounds. The album closes out with James’ version of “Who Can I Turn to”, a lounge classic that is just a bad fit for the Godfather of Soul.

The production on this album is super slick and orchestrated, far different from the raw power of his late 60s band, but the sparkly sheen is attractive in places, especially the flute arrangements and some well placed corny exotic harp glissandos. James voice is still in good shape on here and his energy level is high. There are enough good tracks on here to make this worthwhile to the James Brown fan, but for the newcomer, check out what James was doing previously with Bootsy on bass, that is some of the most kinetic music ever recorded on to vinyl.

SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE Fresh

Album · 1973 · Funk
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js
Well known amongst aficionados of the funk, Sly and the Family Stone’s “Fresh” took the funk in a ‘fresh’ new direction. Instead of basing the jams on a repeating melodic bass line, Sly and his crew open up the texture and feature a structure where all the musicians interact with short little riffs and accents that intersect in sometimes mind boggling sound kaleidoscopes. The painting term, ‘pointillistic’ could apply here, in which many small events stand on their own to create an ensemble whole. Not everything on here is advanced scientific future funk, Sly’s old school good times RnB still shows up on a few tracks, but for the most part, “Fresh”, holds up to its name with some exciting new directions in music.

This album takes syncopation to new levels, which makes it surprising that the drummer on board, Andy Newmark, is a rock session drummer not usually known for playing in this style. How well he performs is somewhat mysterious as he is mixed very low and his playing is sometimes assisted by a drum machine. Its up to the other players to produce the timing to pull this off and they do a great job, particularly bassist Rusty Allen, who had some mighty big shoes to fill when highly influential and innovative original bassist Larry Graham left to start his own band. How good the rest of this ensemble is at finding their place in the mix is on full display on the album opener, “In Time”, cheekily named as the musicians stay in time while adding little hits and riffs that never collide and always surprise as we wonder how do they do this.

Lyrically this album is also a whole new bag for Sly as he leaves behind the feel good anthems of his late 60s work and embraces the ambiguities of the 70s. Many of these songs feature abstract word play that might be hard to pin down, but can still be interesting and amusing. Musically Sly also introduces new structures in which one rhythmic idea repeats for the whole song without any need for verse/chorus type constructs. When applied correctly, this sort of African approach carries a lot of strength. Most of these tracks are excellent, but some might take exception to Sly’s over wrought vocals on “Que Serra Serra” and “Let Me Have it All”.

funk movie reviews

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Artists with Funk release(s)

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Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
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JOHN COLTRANE
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