King Of The Party (Buy this CD now!)
By Dwayne Fatheree | NewOrleans.com
Back in the day, the kids in the horn section weren't the cool kids. Sure, they could blow, but it was the guitar players, piano players and long-haired moneymaker-shaking lead singers who got the spotlight.
There's a whole wave of musicians fronting bands in New Orleans who are changing that. "King of the Party," the latest release from Big Sam Williams and his Funky Nation goes a long way toward destroying that stereotype.
Williams knows where the traditional sound lies. He cut his teeth as the trombonist for the Soul Rebels and Dirty Dozen brass bands before forming the Funky Nation. And on "King of the Party," the band's fourth album, he has pushed farther afield from those roots than ever before.
From the very first notes, it is clear that Big Sam's Funky Nation is not your dad's brass band. Guitar, bass and drums swirl around the horns like some sort of aural caduceus, with Sam's trombone weaving the melody over the crunchy bits of psychedelic soundscape.
If there was a name for what BSFN has created, it's Noladelic. At its heaviest, the band can hold its own with any of the dinosaur rockers of old. But when the sound starts to move forward and twist the beat around those complex horn lines and head-exploding guitar leads, something completely alien to traditional funk and rock pops out and makes you want to dance.
The eponymous lead track lays out the architecture for the record. There's the killer pulsing beat from drummer Milk and bassist Eric Vogel, then the guitar wall of Takeshi Shimmura. Inside that you hear William's call-and-response vocal beckoning the listener to jump right into the mix and dance their funky butts off.
It's one thing to make a band sound like a party, but BSFN has done it with taste and style. Between the raucous good time you can here slivers of Hendrix, old Steely Dan and even touches of Cameo and old dance floor tracks. There is also that quiet pause in the middle for "Take 5," a nice bit of soothing ginger before the second half of the party unfolds.
For what it is worth, BSFN isn't the first band to experiment with this hybrid rock-funk-brass sound. Mark Mullins and John Gros starting pushing this to the forefront with Mulebone in the last decade. But Sam and his bandmates may have found the a way to take that sound to party anthem status.
The closer, "Dance Floor," will send those old enough to remember back to those days of foggy dance clubs, heavy straight beats and Ray Ban sunglasses. The only way to summon more 80s schtick would be to glue a Nagel poster on the track. But it brings the energy and Williams sells it like a pro, distorted vocal and all.
That, in a nutshell, is what Big Sam's Funky Nation is about, bringing the noise and bringing the party. On "King of the Party," they manage to do both, unabashedly.
Peace Love & Understanding (Buy this CD now!)
By: Monsters & Critics
You haven't experienced New Orleans if you missed Big Sam's Funky Nation. NOLA's rising stars latest upcoming release is "Peace, Love & Understanding."
This latest effort from Big Sam's Funky Nation features the distinct sound of Big Sam Williams on trombone with his Funky Nation and special guests Ivan Neville and Nick Daniels. The CD is available through the website HERE and some record stores. "Peace, Love & Understanding" provides an ear-full of some of the funkiest sounds coming out of the Crescent City.
BSFN adeptly maneuvers through this musical terrain with the soulful skill that has been the trademark of this emerging ensemble. The twelve song effort reflects BSFN at its best with songs that evoke the steamy good time feeling of New Orleans. The leader of the band, Big Sam Williams, believes this work embodies the evolution of the band and its style. "This album reflects our optimism and sheer love for New Orleans as well as our positive outlook on the future of full-blown funk," according to the Big man himself.
One thing that is immediately noticeable after just one listen is this CD is all about a party. Big Sam's live performances have become legendary funk fests with a deep NOLA groove, and BSFN delivers a studio rendition just as inspirational.
Take Me Back (Buy this CD now!)
By Robert Fontenot
Even in New Orleans, you don’t usually find funk bands as brassy, brass bands as funky, or brass-funk bands as jazzy as Big Sam’s Funky Nation. But above all else on this eleven-track debut, the party is king on Take Me Back — as evidenced by titles like “Get Down,” “Funky People,” “Shake Yo Thang,” and, um, “Party.” There are no big insights laying for us deep in these grooves, despite a general aura of family positivity that stretches from Sly to Ozomatli and back again. As impressive as the sound is, there are times when it seems like trombonist/leader (and Dirty Dozen vet) Sammie Williams is merely casting bait to get you hooked on the band’s live shows. Even more so than on last year’s debut, Birth Of A Nation, there’s little room for anything but a bit of call-and-response in between solos.
With a rotating group of musicians this tight, though, who’s complaining? Williams has no trouble staying within tradition during these very modern workouts, while the guitarist nasty squalls serve as the Nation’s secret jam-band WMD. “Funkin’ @ The Butt” hews close to acid-jazz, the short “Get Down” is almost punky, and the closing “Thank U + Farewell” edges into psychedelic soul, but these are merely the outer parameters of Williams’ vision. For most of Take Me Back, he and his extended musical relatives just want to bring the party into your home.