The Second installment of Rock Candy Funk Party Takes New York – live at the Iridium picks up exactly where the last CD left off, in a whirlwind of nasty funk that would have the likes of even the great Bootsy Collins getting down and dirty. This Funtasterpiece opens up with the kind of enthusiasm that would never make you think that this band just played a half hour set.
‘Ode To Gee’, similar to ‘Octopus-E’ opens with an almost far eastern feel grounded in its ambient introduction before the wah begins to wind it up for a funky drive through the night. The constant force of the bass fiercely pushes the song along with its ever anonymous pops and slaps as the song is driven into one jumping solo after another. A calming interlude can be spotted at times, helping to break the song up a bit before beginning with the back and forth playing between the keyboard and the bass highlighting the connection between Mike Merritt and Renato Neto. The dynamic between these musicians is captured beautifully on this track as it expands into a wild flurry of colorful keyboard tones and explodes like a wild firecracker at its zenith.
Almost as if the live crowd could not get enough of that heavy driven keyboard vibe left over from the end of ‘Ode To Gee’, Neto builds ‘Dope On A Rope’ into cool jam session between the guitarists Bonamassa and DeJesus as they swap licks back and fourth just to remind us that this is, after all, a super-group of musicians. Their balancing act of shredding sheds its skin from the stale coat of reused blues and jazz licks and turns them upside down and inside out to give us a whole new generation of guitar virtuosos to examine for years to come. If you play guitar this is a dazzling spectacle to be sure.
When a song is entitled ‘The Best 10 Minutes Of Your Life’ you are expecting, well at least with this super-group, the best ten minutes of your life. The song begins, as a trip through ambience before it’s finally given a beat, only to remain in its state of constant dreamy drift. Here and there a lead line can be heard scurrying across the pans and you are immediately placed in front of the band as they take you on a journey that will have any post-rock lover in a world of ecstasy. Merritt is scarcely heard holding down the bass line before you realize that DeJesus is bringing a wah led rhythm into the mix. Holding the fort of harmonics Bonamassa plays with a few lead lines here and there and the song leaves us with Renato’s touching solo at the end of our voyage, just to let us know that the best ten minutes of our life have come and passed.
Well, since this is a funky party held by the Rock Candy Funk Party ‘Steppin’ in it’ steps straight into a gooy pool of funk greatness, leaving us feeling sticky and funky all over. The jumpy tone set by this song falls out and dies down into a very mellow but silly keyboard solo that drives itself into a heavier driven tone and builds us back into a muddy mess of hopping and wild play. Falling back into the groove of things Bonamassa takes the first guitar lead which, much like the keyboard solo starts us off easy before going completely nuts all over the fret board and sliding back into the groove. They then toy with the ending for the last minute or so because by this point in the album they could be standing on stage and picking their noses and they would have our full attention.
In what can only be assumed to be homage to Marcus Miller, and of course the great funk masters of old, such as Freddy Hubbard, Weldon Irvine, Rock Candy Funk Party take some liberties with the funk classic ‘Mr. Clean’. Opening with an outstanding drum solo led by Tal Bergman, the song slowly finds its way into this funky hard-bop groove as the guitars bring the song to life. Renato Neto’s exceptional piano playing turns the song in a completely different direction, reminiscent of the very spacy jazz lines that are character of the likes of Miles Davis. The song then waves a flashy hello to Marcus Miller’s famous Jean Pierre, as Bonamassa alludes to a few licks inspired from the track. Finally, the song is pulled to a halt in just in time for the closer of this outstanding show.
Full of heavy crunch and wild dissonance ‘One Phone Call’ is the perfect outro to this super-group of extraordinary musicians. Every musician shows all of the virtuoso talent off and at once there is enthusiasm to want to hear more from this star-studded power line up. Rock Candy Funk Party Takes New York – live at the Iridium is a must have for your shelf.
Written by: Clovis El-Khazen
Edited by: NJ Bakr