Brooklyn Funk Essentials
About Brooklyn Funk Essentials
Acid jazz is a misleading tag for most of the acts to which the jocular term has been applied, but it's particularly limiting for Brooklyn Funk Essentials, a multicultural, ever-changing band that has fused funk, several shades of jazz, soul, ska, and dub poetry. They're known most for their debut album, Cool and Steady and Easy (1993), a major factor in the emergence of independent U.K. label Dorado. Since then, as the members have been engaged in an assortment of other creative outlets, they've reconvened on occasion to add to their discography, amounting to two albums each decade. They capped off their third decade together with Stay Good (2019).
Brooklyn Funk Essentials were conceived by electro pioneer Arthur Baker (who was involved with Lenny Dee and Victor Simonelli's earlier house project of the same name) and bassist/musical director Lati Kronlund (previously a member of Swedish new wavers Reeperbahn). The large band soon became a staple of the New York City club scene, with early configurations including singers Joi Cardwell, Sha-Key, and Papa Dee, dub poets Everton Sylvester and David Allen, DJ Jazzy Nice, keyboardist Yuka Honda (pre-Cibo Matto), trumpeter Bob Brachmann, trombonist Joshua Roseman, saxophonist Paul Shapiro, drummer Yancy Drew, and percussionist E.J. Rodriguez. Brooklyn Funk Essentials' debut album, Cool and Steady and Easy, was released in the U.K. in 1993. The LP contained an underground hit with a rendition of Pharoah Sanders' "The Creator Has a Master Plan," and featured appearances from Maceo Parker and the Tower of Power horns. RCA licensed the album for U.S. distribution in 1995.
When Cardwell left to focus on her solo career, she was replaced by vocalist and songwriter Stephanie McKay, who was showcased on In the BuzzBag, a 1998 collaboration with Turkish group Laço Tayfa, and Make Them Like It, issued two years later. After an extended break, BFE returned in 2008 with Watcha Playin', on which Sha-Key, Papa Dee, and Sylvester picked up the slack for the departed McKay. The band returned to Dorado and welcomed back Cardwell and McKay for Funk Ain't Ova, released in 2015. Stay Good, the band's sixth album, arrived toward the end of the decade with veteran singer Alison Limerick added to the lineup. ~ Andy Kellman & Jason Ankeny
ORIGINNew York, NY [Brooklyn]