Funk Ark @ Sail Inn
The saxophones and trumpets came two by two, followed by guitars, bass, and drums, with a vintage keyboard steering the ship. Waves of sound washed over the ensemble and groovalicious music played for 40 days and 40 nights. When the last cymbal crash faded away, the Funk Ark sat high upon the mountain of righteous vibes, and there was much rejoicing and boogieing. With a name like Funk Ark, one would think this is how the band's bio would read. Although it doesn't, the band is a blessed gathering of funk musicians partaking in a diverse array of styles — wonderfully on the same song. On High Noon, the Washington, D.C., group's latest release (produced by Adrian Quesada of the Grammy-nominated Grupo Fantasma), the music takes the best of African, Latin, and homegrown funk idioms — from Fela Kuti's Afrika 70 to James Brown's JB's, the Fania Allstars to Ramp, Tower of Power to Ocote Soul Sound — and churns out an alternating gritty, greasy, gyrating groove that, in today's standard thump-and-bump funk scene (think George Clinton) is entirely fresh, contagiously moving, and decidedly original. Imagine that Fela's Afrobeat gestated in Cuba or James Brown hailed from Venezuela and, well, that's Funk Ark.
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