Big Sam’s Funky Nation: Songs in the Key of Funk, Volume 1
Trombone player and bandleader “Big Sam” Williams cut his chops with New Orleans veterans The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and clocked in time with Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint on their River in Reverse album and tour, but his funk sextet Big Sam’s Funky Nation has remained his true calling card. The outfit’s latest set starts on a high note with “4 da Funk,” a thumping jam with an in-your-face beat that echoes Funkadelic’s ethos as the band sings: “Get on down for the funk of it.” The band’s backbone is supplied by big, zooming bass lines from Jerry Henderson, Keenan McRae’s chattering guitar chords and drummer Alfred Jordan’s solid, four-on-the-floor backbeat. The energy doesn’t let up for a second, making it impossible to stay seated. “Hot” is a sizzling, sensual song of seduction, with Kendrick Marshall’s synthesizer fills tipping a hat to the swinging, Minneapolis sound of The Time and Prince. Things slow down a bit for “Who’s Gonna Help Brother Get Further,” a groove that brings to mind the R&B hits that Toussaint penned for Lee Dorsey and Ernie K-Doe. “I Like the Music” is another unstoppable chunk of funk. While the title is chanted in the background, McRae turns in an extended psychedelic guitar solo, supported by Marshall’s sustained chords and the scalding accents of Williams’ trombone.