Rock Candy Funk Party--featuring Joe Bonamassa, Tal Bergman, Mike Merritt, Ron DeJesus, and Renato Neto--will release their debut jazz-funk album, We Want Groove, on January 29.
With its reboot of classic ’70s /‘80s jazz-funk, Rock Candy Funk Party (RCFP) delivers a sound that’s as celebratory as the name suggests. The group is powered by a lineup of world renowned players—album producer Tal Bergman (drums), Joe Bonamassa (guitar), Ron DeJesus (guitar), Mike Merritt (bass) and Renato Neto (keys)—who came together for the sheer fun of making music, and a mutual love of genre-blurring grooves. RCFP’s first album We Want Groove is due out in January 29, 2013 on J&R Adventures, the independent label founded by Bonamassa and his longtime manager, Roy Weisman. Fans can pre-order the album here: www.rockcandyfunkparty.com and get their first taste of it with a free download of the single “Octopus-e” here:
The album features nine tracks—eight originals and one cover—full of space and texture, that mash up funk, jazz, and rock with virtuoso musicianship. It includes a DVD with a making-of featurette, two in-the-studio featurettes and the official music video for “Octopus-e.” While the album is instrumental, the interplay between RCFP’s members—whose collective credits include Joe Zawinul, Hugh Masekela, Prince, LL Cool J, Ruth Brown, Chaka Khan, Simples Minds, Billy Idol, Tito Puente, Bruce Springsteen, Rod Stewart, Levon Helm, Conan O’Brien, Luther Vandross, Sheila E. and many more—is a riveting conversation all its own. “It really was the definition of collaboration, one of those records where you want to bottle the vibe and save it for all albums,” says Bonamassa.
That improvisational nature comes through on We Want Groove, which was recorded live over the course of ten straight days at Tal Bergman Studios in Los Angeles, California. The environment was egalitarian and ego-neutral, with each player sharing equally in creating the music. “The concept of this record had everything do with interplay,” says Bergman, “where everybody feeds off each other, reacts, and captures the moment.”
In title and spirit, the album tips its hat to Miles Davis’ classic 1982 live instrumental LP We Want Miles, which Merritt says “was kind of a template for our project.” Its influence is one of many echoing through RCFP’s re-imagination of jazz-funk—the album opener, “Octopus-e,” boasts a sinewy funk groove that suggests a meeting between Jeff Beck and the Average White Band. The gorgeously atmospheric “The Best Ten Minutes Of Your Life” has an early ’70s Temptations-style groove that just “lays there for late night.” The album closes with the lush and soulful melodies of “New York Song.” “All flavors went into making this album,” says Bergman, citing other influences including Herbie Hancock, James Brown, Weather Report, Earth, Wind & Fire, Led Zeppelin, Sly Stone, and, of course, Miles Davis.
Bonamassa says, “Tal did a great job making sure the album didn’t become over indulgent. The challenge was to keep it fresh without our influences overwhelming the music—to keep the band vibe without it becoming too many ideas from too many people. It was important to commit to the moment and keep it fresh, and fun. There is a fine line.”
RCFP grew out of Bergman and DeJesus’ 2007 instrumental album Grooove Vol. 1, and subsequent live dates at L.A.’s storied jazz spot the Baked Potato. They encouraged other musicians to jam with them, including Merritt, (currently a member of The Basic Cable Band on Conan) and Neto (who toured with Prince from 2002-2011) who joined the line-up early on. Bonamassa made his RCFP debut in early 2012 during one of his rare breaks from the road when Bergman—who has toured with the guitarist—invited him to sit in on a pair of gigs.
To celebrate the release, RCFP will play two exclusive shows each night on January 23 and 24 at The Baked Potato (3787 Cahuenga Boulevard, Studio City, CA 91604). The first show is at 9:30PM, the second at 11:30PM. Currently, both 9:30PM shows are sold out. Buy advance tickets here: www.thebakedpotato.com.
We Want Groove Tracklisting:
3. “Ode To Gee”
4. “We Want Groove”
5. “The Best Ten Minutes of Your Life”
7. “Dope On A Rope”
8. “Root Down (and Get It)”
9. “New York Song”
1. “The Making of We Want Groove”
2. “In the Studio – Episode 1”
3. “In the Studio – Episode 2”
4. “Official Music Video for Octopus-e”