The cult funk ensemble Brooklyn Funk Essentials has released its fifth studio album, Funk Ain’t Ova, worldwide today. It coincides with the 20th anniversary of the celebrated debut album, Cool & Steady & Easy, and offers a collection of eclectic songs using BFE’s signature melange of funk, disco, jazz, ska, latin and house flavors. The album sees BFE go back to their roots, bringing together many of the original members and reuniting with original label Dorado Records, who first signed the band back in 1994.
Iconic producer Arthur Baker and bassist/musical director Lati Kronlund founded Brooklyn Funk Essentials in 1993. Band members came from New York’s buzzing hip hop-jazz and slam poetry scenes and soon formed into a 12-piece live outfit, rotating some of the city’s finest young musicians, DJs, poets, rappers and singers.
Lead single “Blast It!” is an all-star funk jam featuring the soulful voices of Stephanie McKay, Desmond Foster and Papa Dee along with Everton Sylvester’s dub poetry. Other standout album tracks include the deeply funky “I’m Gonna Find Me A Woman,” a re-working of an unreleased track written in the nineties with the late, great Isaac Hayes. The disco jam “Dance Or Die” sees the return of Joi Cardwell on lead vocals, who also appears on “Gabriel,” a ska/boogaloo re-imagining of the Roy Davis Jr. and Peven Everett seminal club hit. Stephanie McKay sings lead on the anthemic “Prepare,” which was co-written by legendary house diva Crystal Waters who also provides background vocals, and “Unique,” co-written by Carlton McCarthy, which features the vibraphones of Bill Ware, who returns for the first time since Cool & Steady & Easy.
The horn section, led by Iwan VanHetten (trumpet and keys) and Anna Brooks (saxes) also includes cameos from founding members Josh Roseman (trombone), Bob Brockmann (trumpet), and Paul Shapiro (sax and flute). Hux Nettermalm and Yancy Drew play drums with Danny Sadownick on percussion and Desmond Foster and Masa Shimizu on guitars.