On a windy evening in Brisbane, I watch the last of the leaves fall off my pecan tree, when in a previous life I would have been at orchestra rehearsal. I put on a CD to wash away the COVID blues. Funk Engine’s Jazz-Funk blasts through my house.
Sydney locals Funk Engine have just released their third album, Jazz-Funk, and it’s a whole lot of fun. Led by composer and electric bassist Siebe Pogson, Funk Engine are Holly Connor (drums), Nishcal Manjunath (tenor saxophone), Felix Lalanne (electric guitar) and Nicholas Twiney (keyboard). The five-piece band is dedicated to every genre that will make you move and groove. They work in jazz, funk, fusion and reggae, revamping these classic genres for today’s audiences.
Jazz-Funk consists of eight compositions by Siebe Pogson. Featuring regular members and guest artists on vocals, synths, electric bass, trumpet, trombone, alto sax, tenor sax, guitar, keyboard, organ, percussion and more, the sound is an explosion of colour. Funk Engine also collaborated with soul legend Pat Powell for two tracks.
The album takes listeners on a journey, shifting from sparse solos to polyphonic textures and in between. From upbeat, jazzy rhythms in Jazz-Funk Anthem to slow, soul vocals in Going the Distance. The third track, Kaphunk, sets up the pulse with complex cross-rhythms led by bold brass instruments, before relaxing into a jazz club feel. Tune In features a gentle sax melody with synth accompaniment for a dreamy sound. 384 continues in a similar vein, with easy-listening, like a West End cafe vibe.
Then, in a dramatic change, Feel Dogs opens with a steady bass hook and a distinctly Australian male voice, using rhyme and humour to tell a story. Hunt that Waltz returns to a gentle, bluesy sound, with piano, sax and synth. The piece has a swaying feel, playing around with varying time-signatures. Home Coming closes off the album with a return to their earlier sound and funky beat.
In all, Funk Engine’s Jazz-Funk is thoroughly enjoyable for both listening and dancing along. Even for those of us not so well acquainted with the funk genre, the album is still palatable. So take a listen and escape from the pandemic in groove.