GLOBAL FUNK : : BOGO (Buy One Get One '04)

Global Funk (formerly Global Funk Council) is a four-piece funk-fusion band that has been around the jamband scene for the past three years, laying claim to having played over 500 shows in that time period including appearances at New Orleans Jazz Fest, High Sierra Music Fest, Berkfest, Baja Bash, and Monterey Jazz Fest, to name a few. The band's personnel has changed a bit over the years, but the current players include Jonathan Stoyanoff on bass, Anthony Smith on keyboards, Ryan Krieger on drums, and Josh Suhrheinrich on guitar.

Their latest release, Bogo, is an ambitious mix of Phish-style jams, early Medeski Martin & Wood grooves, and prog-rock compositions reminiscent of Yes or Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. The opening title track is actually a short segment with the lyrics "Buy one, get one free," thus offering an explanation for the acronym "Bogo." Then the real substance of the CD unfolds with the Smith-penned "Demons," which starts out sounding like something Alan Parsons Project recorded in the 80's, then halfway through becomes the rock fusion of the Dixie Dregs. The song is complex with ever-changing tempos throughout, progressive in nature yet sprinkled with jazz fusion and funk. "Long Time Comin'" and "You Might Say," both written by Stoyanoff, are country-tinged, driving tunes with obvious String Cheese Incident and Phish influences.

The eleven minute "Sisters" is another example of the continually changing tempos and textures of GF's music. Starting off in a bluegrass way then switching into a kind of MOFRO funk, the tune then speeds up to a faster rock tempo, then reverts back into the bluegrass and then finally returns to the funk. At times, Smith's piano sounds very much like Bruce Hornsby and at other times he lays on the heavy Hammond B3 funk.

Following that is "Spank," a funk fusion instrumental number a la Garaj Mahal, similar in style to "Rub" heard later on the disc. Next up is "Sarah's Best," a twenty-minute opus written by Stoyanoff with complicated structure and changes. The lyrics and structure could be described as "Phishy" ("I don't care about nothing cuz nothing matters at all.") Almost like two songs in one, the tune eventually morphs into a rock anthem of sorts in which Smith and Suhrheinrich really let loose on their solos.

Closing the CD is "Up Here," another lengthy twelve-minute-plus composition, with reggae and Spanish jams in the middle of the song. The band covers a lot of complicated ground here, and again the compelling arrangements pique the listener's interest.

Anthony Smith's playing on organ and piano is very strong throughout the CD, as is Josh Suhrheinrich's guitar work. The rhythm section of Krieger and Stoyanoff provides a solid background for the two lead players to shine. It is evident from this CD that Global Funk has come a long way in three years, maturing into a growling rock-fusion-funk-prog monster.

Susan J. Weiand
JamBase | California
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[Published on: 1/21/05]

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