People keep asking me, what is Funk and what makes you feel like doin´ stuff like that? The answer is quite simple. I play it because I love it. We all do.
Funk is music that makes me wanna dance. To move my old Swedish body to the beat. Funk is the power of groove. Funk is sweat. It is tears. It is love. Funk is a way of life. It is in our blood. And, it´s a lot of fun too.
”Free your mind and your ass will follow” as George Clinton of the Funkadelic expressed it. Right he was.
On this album, we want to do the Funk, the whole Funk and nothing but the Funk. And yet, we haven´t forgotten that there has always been a strong element of jazz in our music. It´s still there. Don´t you worry `bout a thing.
Ray Parker Jr. is from Detroit. He knows how to lay down a groove and keep it forever, may it be fast or slow. And he´s got that unmistakable voice which I´ve loved ever since I first heard it, many moons ago. Now I get to play with Ray. Not bad.
Magnum Coltrane Price has roots in Detroit just like Ray. MCP can pump that bass to the max without ever losing one single beat. He is also a master of melodic playing, something you can really hear on this album. On top of that he´s a great singer. Beat that if you can.
Wolfgang Haffner is a true master, just check out the airtight grooves on this wax. He is my man, always there when I need him, always giving a 110 percent, no matter what.
Ida Sand is such a beautiful musician, and woman. She´s got great taste and style and man, can she sing.
Magnus Lindgren is the golden boy. A master of all trades, everything he touches turns into something precious.
I am proud to present the Funk Unit 2007. With a licence to Funk.
Welcome to our world.
Peace and Love,
A very special Thank You to my friend MCP who has been with me ever since the first Funk Unit tour in 1997. You´ve never let me down. Without you, No Funk Unit!
A true musical cosmopolitan, he has long acquired his licence in jazz and pretty much any other music performing alongside stars like Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker, Thad Jones, Herbie Hancock or Roy Hargrove. He may have been born in Detroit, Michigan or in Degerfors in the Swedish province of Värmland, as is the case with Nils Landgren; an artist of such stature that he needs no one’s permission for anything and certainly not to funk. Mr. Red Horn, a name that stuck to Landgren because of his eye-catching red Yamaha trombone, has been a constant source of inspiration on the European jazz scene as an inexhaustible performer, highly original composer and charismatic teacher.
Landgren’s presence and power made a strong impression on ACT founder Siggi Loch, when he heard the Swede play at the 1994 JazzBaltica festival in Salzau. Such an impression, that Loch was sure he had made one of his most important discoveries in the course of his long career in the record business. His to date 15 albums and one DVD as a leader, as well as his collaboration on numerous other releases have firmly established the 51 year-old as one of the driving forces in the label's artist roster. The Swede is a hard working and immensely versatile musician, who feels equally at home in a small or a large line-up, in the swinging straight ahead jazz tradition as well as in the modern European styles. One style of music has always held a particular attraction for Landgren though: the type of funk that developed through sixties and seventies R&B and soul-jazz.
The focus of the new album Licence To Funk is on the communicating quality of funk. It is no surprise that a red-blooded musician like Nils Landgren would never let his indubitable jazz sensibility and fearsome virtuosity get the better of this endeavour, and turn it into an academic exercise. No way, José! This is an album for those who like to party, or as Nils states tongue-in-cheek: an album “to move my old Swedish body to the beat”.
As we could rightly expect, Nils Landgren has found a universal and very contemporary vibe for this groove-based idiom. This may be due to subtle changes to the fabric of his winning Funk Unit team of Magnum Coltrane Price and German top drummer Wolfgang Haffner. New additions are keyboarder/singer Ida Sand, a new discovery from Sweden who just released her ACT debut Meet Me Around Midnight (ACT 9716-2) and flutist/saxophonist Magnus Lindgren (among other endeavours, he wrote the music for the 2003 Nobel Prize ceremony!).
Landgren was able to snag one of Detroit funk’s true legends for his new project: guitarist Ray Parker Jr. The composer of the million selling “Ghostbusters” had collaborated with Landgren on the Swede’s Creole Love Call album (ACT 9707-2) with Joe Sample. All the musicians are featured as composers on Licence To Funk.
Fred Wesley’s "House Party", the ecstatic opener sets the pace for what follows: A celebration of funk as a collective experience. Each of the twelve tracks shows up a different aspect of the genre: The relaxed elegance of Landgren’s own “Capetown Shuffle” contrasts with the exhilarating verve of the Ashford/Simpson classic “Stuff Like That”. Lush gospel harmonies characterize the vocal sections of Magnum Coltrane Price’s brisk “freak U”. Soulful solos by the two horn players crown Wolfgang Haffner’s laid-back “Slowfoot”, vocalist Ida Sand charges her composition “Secret” with lascivious blues feeling, while Landgren’s understated vocals bring a cool lounge vibe to “24Hours”. The explosive riffs on “SampleRayT” conjure up the spirit of the Crusaders’ heyday as does the power play of the whole band on “Brazos River Breakdown” an original by Crusaders-saxophonist Wilton Felder.
Licence To Funk opens a new chapter in one of the most impressive success stories of the European jazz of the last years.