Let's kick off the very merry month with a necessary tribute to a recently-departed god of The Groove.
Today's honored person left us at the age of 79 on May 1st, but the things he did and the foundation he laid will never, ever die.
In the mid-1960s, he altered the DNA of drums forever, at the direction of his boss who'd have been 85 the other day.
All those tunes that started the whole Funk revolution that endures to now? Brand New Bag? Cold Sweat? I Can't Stand It? James Brown might have conceived that sort of pocket, but it took today's man of the hour to play it.
There's only a handful of drummers where you could make the claim that they wrote The Bible of it. Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich and Shelley Manne from the Jazz old school; Kenny Clarke obviously. In rock you might say Ginger Baker, Neil Peart, and Bill Bruford maybe.
Funk, of course, has its deities too. Zigaboo Modeliste from The Meters is a first-ballot choice. Idris Muhammad as well, who did so much to bring the rhythms of the New Orleans Second Line into Jazz and by extension, pop music.
But if we are talking formatives -- who made something where there was nothing, as some folks claim is the living definition of The Funk -- no one surpasses today's guy.
If you had The Godfather himself in front of you right now, he would tell you in plain English that there will never be another backbone of the backbeat sturdier than John "Jab'o" Starks.
As I said he passed a few days ago, so to commemorate his life and work we have in the cloud today a full hour of the JB Orchestra, onstage with three drummers -- Jab'o is one -- at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1969. How this isn't officially available I do not know, but when do I ever?
Newport Jazz Festival
Newport, Rhode Island
01 Soul Pride
03 unknown instrumental medley
04 Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud
05 If I Ruled the World
06 Kansas City
07 Licking Stick
08 Try Me
09 There Was a Time
10 Give It Up or Turnit a Loose
11 It's A Man's World
12 Please, Please, Please
13 I Can't Stand Myself (When You Touch Me)
14 Mother Popcorn
15 Mother Popcorn (reprise)
Total time: 59:04
James Brown - vocals
Maceo Parker - tenor and alto saxophones
Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis - tenor and alto saxophones
Fred Wesley - trombone
St. Clair Pinckney - baritone saxophone
Richard "Kush" Griffith - trumpet
Joe Davis - trumpet
Jimmy Nolen - guitar
Alphonso "Country" Kellum - guitar
Bobby Byrd - organ, stage announcer
Charles Sherrell - bass
Clyde Stubblefield, John "Jab'o" Starks, Melvin Parker - drums
pre-FM capture, maybe just a master sbd reel
357 MB FLAC/May 2018 archive link
I hope I don't have to tell you exactly how insanely badass this full, unissued hour is. Just the closer -- an extended and furious Mother Popcorn -- oughta make that abundantly clear.
I shall return as soon as my injured foot allows me to stand at this desk for more than five minutes without excruciating pain, but for now go grab this hour of raw Funk power and remember that for every few Rudy Ghoulianis and that lot, we get 80 years of someone like Jab'o.--J.
10.26.1938 - 5.1.2018