This is Soul Jazz Records’ new journey into the heart of New Orleans and a guide to the city’s finest Funk music produced in the late 1960s and early 1970s.’ Featuring everyone from The Meters to Eddie Bo, Lee Dorsey to Betty Harris, this is a who’s who of the Crescent City’s most famous and most funky!
The city of New Orleans has deep musical roots that stretch back to Africa. New Orleans first gave birth to Jazz music, a Black musical form centred on rhythm, improvisation, freedom and collectivity at the turn of the century. Similarly in the late 1960s New Orleans Funk came to define a unique sound, mixing Caribbean rhythms, New Orleans second-line syncopation and rhythm and blues, all played by the Big Easy’s finest musicians.
Whilst Jazz and Funk music spread throughout the world, many African-American musical traditions remained within the city limits such as Mardi Gras and Carnival, Saturday Night Fish Fries, Funeral Marching bands and much more which partly explains why New Orleans music is so unique.
The album comes with extensive sleeve-notes, exclusive photography and more, and is an essential guide to the musical landscape of New Orleans and - together with Soul Jazz Records’ earlier New Orleans’ releases - presents the definitive story of New Orleans Funk.
Although on the mainland coast, New Orleans is also surrounded by lakes giving the city an island feel. Similarly its proximity to Puerto Rico, Cuba, Haiti and the other West Indian Isles means that Latin and Caribbean musical influences are in its veins as much as American musical traditions. The upside of this city’s isolation is that New Orleans musical traditions flourished away from those of the rest of America. A thriving city full of artists, musicians, singers, producers, record companies, studios (well one studio actually) led to a 24-hour, 7-day a week musical life, playing in clubs, bars, brothels, carnivals and parades.
The downside of the cities isolation from the rest of the US was that the city never developed a solid music industry to back up the creative over-supply. Whilst New York had Atlantic, Detroit had Motown, Memphis had Stax, Chicago had Chess, Los Angeles had Modern, New Orleans had a multitude of small businesses fighting for space - and often each other. Without the marketing, promotional weight, business nouse and financial clout, New Orleans labels found it hard to get the nationwide distribution necessary to fill the million-odd jukeboxes throughout the country. So whilst every family in America knows the music of Gladys Knight or Smokey Robinson few could tell you about – let alone hum a tune from - Benny Spellman, Inell Young, Warren Lee….This is far from being a reflection of the artists creativity or musicality - as anyone can tell you New Orleans melodies are the catchiest of all - more it is a reflection of the limitations of the local music industry. Some New Orleans artists became successful throughout the US such as Fats Domino in the 1950s and in the late 1960s The Meters and Lee Dorsey, but many artists remained within the city limits.
This makes for a fascinating goldmine of music released by a complex myriad of small labels run mainly by New Orleans producers, promoters and artists themselves. New Orleans Funk 2 brings together many of these artists along with text, sleeve-notes and photographs that gives social and historical context to the incredibly funky music of New Orleans.