Also FUNKY.....

Rhythm - - FEATURE -


The mu­si­cians Berry Gordy Jr se­lected to back the up-and-com­ing acts on his Mo­town la­bel were amongst the finest play­ers on the lo­cal jazz, blues and R&B cir­cuit. ‘The Funk Brothers’ worked tire­lessly in Hitsville’s Stu­dio A, crank­ing out hit af­ter hit. Cen­tral to the Mo­town sound were three of the funki­est drum­mers of all time, Wil­liam ‘Benny’ Ben­jamin, Richard ‘Pis­tol’ Allen and Uriel Jones, who pro­vided the driv­ing eighth-note grooves, heavy back­beats and in­fec­tious fills.


Mean­while in Mem­phis, the Stax record la­bel were mak­ing their own con­tri­bu­tion to the sound of mod­ern soul and funk. Their ses­sion mu­si­cians – in­clud­ing Al Jack­son Jr, drum­mer with the Stax house band Booker T & The MGs – worked tire­lessly record­ing tracks for artists such as Otis Red­ding and Sam & Dave.


Chicago-born Joseph was drum­mer of choice for the Chi-Lites, Ty­rone Davis, Patti LaBelle, Cur­tis May­field and more. A stu­dio ace for leg­endary Chicago soul la­bel Brunswick Records, Joseph knew how to fill floors with his beats on clas­sics like Davis’ ‘Can I Change My Mind’, and could also lay it down sweetly on gospel­style num­bers like The Chi-Lites’ ‘Have You Seen Her’.


When Chad joined the Chili Pep­pers for 1989’s Mother’s

Milk, here was a drum­mer whose funky kick could match Flea’s busy, funk-in­spired basslines – thus cre­at­ing one of rock’s finest and funki­est ever rhythm sec­tions. Pack­ing power and pocket in equal mea­sure, check out Chad’s grooves on ‘Funky Monks’, ‘Give It Away’ and other funk-rock Chilis clas­sics, as well as with his fully funky Bom­bas­tic Meat­bats project.


Black­well, who sadly passed away in 2017 at the trag­i­cally young age of 43, was best known as part of Prince’s New Power Gen­er­a­tion, play­ing on Prince’s ‘re­nais­sance’ al­bum Mu­si­col­ogy, where it was Black­well’s nasty (in a good way) funk beats that pushed the Pur­ple One’s mu­sic into funk over­drive. He owned the pocket like few other drum­mers of his gen­er­a­tion, and was a fan­tas­tic show­man whose play­ing style was both mu­si­cally and visu­ally spec­tac­u­lar.


Since launch­ing New Or­leans funk band Ga­lac­tic in the early ’90s, Moore has emerged as one of the lead­ing funk drum­mers to­day. Firmly rooted in the New Or­leans tra­di­tion, Moore has brought hip-hop and r’n’b into his play­ing, lead­ing his own small groups and trios, play­ing heavy metal with Cor­ro­sion Of Con­form­ity, record­ing jazz al­bums and most re­cently a trib­ute to New Or­leans song­writer Allen Tous­saint. An ex­cel­lent ed­u­ca­tor, Moore has re­leased a string of ac­claimed in­struc­tional books and DVDs ex­plor­ing the unique rhythms of New Or­leans, in­clud­ing Groove Alchemy and Take It To The Streets.


Brighton-born Steve Fer­rone joined Scot­land’s The Av­er­age White Band, and his deep pocket made him per­fect for funk clas­sics like ‘Pick Up The Pieces’ (orig­i­nally played by the late Rob­bie Mac­in­tosh). But Fer­rone’s slick feel has also made him the go-to for soul ses­sions, and he has been be­hind the kit for Chaka Khan and Roberta Flack. Guns N’ Roses’ gui­tar hero Slash, who called upon Fer­rone for du­ties on a solo al­bum, de­scribed Fer­rone’s play­ing as “sex on skins”.

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