has a body of music been more aptly named; the new CD from
Britain’s Down To The Bone is most certainly
SUPERCHARGED! Have you seen that TV commercial where
the young man with long hair is sitting in front of a huge
pair of stereo speakers? You can tell the music is
cranked up full bore because his hair and neck scarf are
blowing straight back as if he was in gale force winds. Well,
that’s my experience with Supercharged. From
start to finish, all 11 tracks are high intensity, full throttle,
jazz-funk groove. Don’t worry, you won’t go into
serious funk overload; I guarantee you’ll be pushing
the replay button at the end of track 11 to hear it all over
If you’re not familiar with the Down To The Bone project,
here’s something from the liner notes that says it
better than I can. “Down To The Bone is the brainchild
and creativity of Stuart Wade, a non-musician who uses his
production skills to work with talented musicians to write
and arrange his ideas using his love of ‘The Good Groove’ to
bring forth this project, to try to bring back some of the
funk and excitement into the music of today.”
Hearing the CD for the first time, a wave of recognition
swept over me. There is something so familiar about
this music. Think “The Meters meet James Brown meets
Tower of Power meets Maceo Parker meets Average White Band.” To
illustrate this point, the track “Electric Vibes” leaps
out and grabs attention. No wonder! Guesting is renowned
vibraphonist Roy Ayers. “Ayers is linked with practically
every funk movement… since the ’70s,” Wade
claims. It was Wade’s lifetime dream to collaborate
with Ayers. “He’s one of my biggest inspirations.
I grew up on his music, even his stuff back with Herbie Mann.
I never thought working with him would happen.”
recording band’s core, jazz-funk rhythms are
conjured by drummer Adam Riley, alternating bassists Richard
Sadler and Julian Crampton, and guitarists Tony Remy and
Ian Crabtree. Toss in to the mix various keyboards, synths,
and organs from Neil Angilley and Neil Cowley. Add the stellar
horn section of saxman Paul “Shilts” Weimar and
The D.C. Horns - Pete Grogan on alto sax, Jon Radford on
trumpet, Bob Dowell on trombone - to heat up the groove and
bring on some melody. The soulful voices of special guests
Hil St. Soul on “Smile to Shine” and Corrina
Greyson on “Shake It Up” bring exquisite allure
the album. This talented ensemble of artists definitely brought
their “A” game to the party.
“This disc has a little bit more of a live, jam-band
attitude. I wanted to make it a lot rawer and retro in its
feel,” says producer and band creator Stuart Wade. “I
thought our music was becoming over-produced. I wanted to
take it back to what I was doing in the beginning but injecting
a lot more funk and a full-horn section.”
The first and title track “Supercharged” immediately
sets the mood. This is a full on, soul funk instrumental
with a tight, vibrant horn section. “Funkin'
Around” fuses jazz and funk brilliantly, featuring
several stand out solos from Radford, Dowell, Weimar, Grogan,
and Cowley on rhodes, clav, and synth.
“Parkside Shuffle” will be the first track you’re
likely to hear at smooth jazz radio. With the great interplay
of Weimar’s sax, The D.C. Horns, and Angilley’s
piano, it sounds like summer. Put the top down and turn up
the volume. Perfect for cruising.
Don’t be fooled by the title, this is no time to zone
out. “Cosmic Fuzz” really gets down with funky
bass, edgy guitar, hot keyboards, superb sax solos, and horn
Next is the mid-tempo groove of “Smile to Shine” featuring
Hil St. Soul with her rich, deeply soulful vocals. She shares
co-writing credit on this track with Wade and Crabtree. Born
in Zambia, relocating to the UK at age 5, Hilary Mwelwa was
raised on a diet of soul, R&B, gospel, and pop music. Smooth
jazz fans may be reminded of Randy Crawford, Maysa, Angie
Stone, India.Arie, and Angela Bofill.
You’re in for a treat with “Electric Vibes,” featuring
legendary vibraphonist Roy Ayers. This is the high point
of the album. The galloping groove and rhythmic interplay
between Ayers’ spicy vibes and famous scat singing,
along with The D.C. Horns and Cowley’s keyboards make
a mighty joyful noise!
“Greedy Fingers” gives way to a feisty vibe,
brought on by the husky horn and rocking guitar solos.
From British singer Corrina Greyson comes “Shake It
Up,” with her commanding soul vocals, funky breakbeats,
and soaring trumpet solos. Throughout the track, the
entire band is cookin’!
“Space Dust” is a spunky groove instrumental
with Weimar’s sax solos and smokin’ D.C. Horn
sections. Angilley gets down on Hammond. Check out the very
funky bass line from Crampton. Drummer Riley deserves some
kudos for his rhythmic ingenuity here, and throughout the
album for that matter.
Just when you think you’ll get a chance to catch your
breath with the mellow intro to “Hip City,” guitar,
rhodes, clav, and bass are jammin’ by the end of the
Closing out the set is “Make It Funky” where
bass and percussion lead into a full-blown horn ensemble
sound. Cowley is simply wicked on hammond, rhodes, clav,
and piano. Stuart Wade, you are The Funkmeister.
Do yourself a favor, run - do not walk - to your nearest
music store and get yourself a copy of this CD. A good place
for Supercharged is in your car
stereo all summer long. Play it loud!
- Anne Aufderheide