One need only look at the list of upcoming artists at most any rock club in any city to understand that funk is enjoying a serious revival. After nearly three hours of Sam Kininger's CD release party flew by in one seriously funky blur, I started to understand why.

By Greg Aiello
Kininger's band rotated in and out like a fluid friends-and-family basement jam where everyone's waiting to take their turn on the speakers, only with a list of performers that reads like a who's who of Boston's jazz, funk, and fusion artists. The crew showed all the drive and energy that are the raw beating heart of a live funk show, capturing the hard-boppin', make-you-move sounds of James Brown or Parliament. Into this potent stew Sam mixes world and Afro-Cuban rhythms, drum 'n' bass, hip-hop, jazz and hard rock riffs. An eclectic array of sounds and styles, certainly, but kept grounded with the most stone-solid of grooves. The band ripped up the room, casual as cotton, cosmopolitan as cashmere, hanging in the pocket as cool and tight as an icicle on an igloo.

Charles Haynes, Nikki Glaspie, and Mister Rourke tore the night open with a blisteringly fast and funky drum and turntables solo, building to a fevered frenzy before the band dropped into "Fred Tune," a fusion-ish number with all of the classic elements—-wickedly scratching guitars, hard-edged riffs, jazzy breakdowns, and, floating above the groove, Kininger's sublime, silky-sweet saxophone. His tone soared and swept across the tune, snapping from misty mockingbird to growling mastiff in a beat. Aaron Bellamy bounced like a man possessed as he loosed the fat, high-energy low-end from his bass; the song's dark, sly bridge and frolicking jazzy turnaround stick in your head like a guilty conscience.

The night's festivities funked on as Eric Krasno and the Evans brothers of Soulive and drummer Adam Deitch mounted the stage, with each group of musicians playing as all-out nasty as they could to outshine the last. But you could see why it's the Sam Kininger Band, and why Soulive has had Kininger touring with them for years—-the man has style to spare, pushing poetry from his horn to humble the haughtiest. His loose charm and chill demeanor spill forth on stage—-watching him play, you know you're watching the story of what's next be told, bar by bar.

Check out the Sam Kininger Band as they tour California the first week of February or catch them later this winter and spring as they gig the East Coast. If you can't get to a show, make sure to grab a set on the festival circuit this summer—-its well worth the anticipation.

JamBase | Boston
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[Published on: 2/3/04]

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