When jazz met funk, it went platinum—respectability politics be damned

1 week ago 7

After having a blast exploring George Clinton’s Mothership and the Blackness of funk music last Sunday, it’s time to take a listen to the impact of funk hooking up with jazz—a topic that made quite a few jazz critics uncomfortable, but which did little to diminish the enthusiasm of the listening (and dancing) public. 

Far too often these days, jazz is viewed as music to sit down and listen to as a cerebral experience, which has taken it far from its earliest African roots, with dances in Congo Square, in bordellos, ragtime parades, and the saloons of New Orleans. I would argue that when jazz intersected with funk, it brought the music full circle: to a place which satisfies the spirit, by propelling the listener to move out of a chair and onto a dance floor. Just as Afro-Latin jazz continued to be danceable—with salsa, mambos, cha-chas, and rumbas, the “funkification” of jazz, including the sampling of the driving beats of soul-funk, has ensured its continued appreciation on both dance floors and popular playlists. 

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