Good music affords a world full of proverbial surprises and in this world Rich Willey’s ensemble Boptism Funk Band is one of the best. Elegantly loud, sensuous and with a proverbial in your face attitude and (with Wally Minko’s) very BIG band arrangements, Mr Willey’s ensemble personifies the very ‘bigness’ of the big band. Its music is brazen and driven by an outgrowth of viscerally exciting horns and two keyboards players that make the music sound as if there were many more.
Hyperbole? And why not? This music is not only well-shaped, but also intense (when it needs to be), cool and laid-back elsewhere and is driven by the mellifluous, expressively generous, expansive styles by musicians such as its leader and (principally) bass-trumpet-playing Rich Willey and driven by the fierce keyboardists Bobby Floyd and Wally Minko. The latter’s arrangements are magnificently coherent, and elicit nobly expressive performances from a group of instrumentalists who include such heavyweights as drummer Byron “Wookie” Landham, guitarist Dave Stryker and bassist Mike Boone. Above the un-egoistic performance by all the band works on so many levels that it puts similar works by many of its contemporary (big bands) in the shade.
And so, to use the band’s own nomenclature of itself and of the kind of musical experience it represents this repertoire is a ‘Boptism’ by ‘funk. With rhythmically crisp tempi underlining sharply focused harmonic invention we are treated to very high-energy – at times thrilling (on songs such as “Brother Kenya’s Paradigm” and “Nude Eel”, to name but two) charts. It’s a winning combination for this remarkable music that is never short of interesting creative ideas.
Track list – 1: Mister Magoo; 2: Goofin’ Off; 3: Clip Clop Mogul; 4: Blessed are The Hip; 5: Adrenaline Rush; 6: Brother Kenya’s Paradigm; 7: Secret Things; 8: Conspiracy; 9: Nude Eel; 10: Eenie Meanie Beanie Weany; 11: Blues for Bobby
Personnel – Bobby Floyd: Hammond B3 organ and piano; Byron “Wookie” Landham: drums; Dave Stryker: guitar; Wally Minko: Fender Rhodes and synthesizer; Rich Willey: bass trumpet and trumpet; Mike Boone: 5-string electric bass; Dan Fornero: trumpet and flugelhorn; John Swana: valve trombone and EVI; Tom Evans: tenor, alto and baritone saxophone, clarinet and flute; David Mann: tenor and soprano saxophone
Released – 2019
Label – Wise Cat Records
Runtime – 1:10:33