Nils – What The Funk? (2010)

Nils - What The Funk? (2010)
Artist: Nils
Album: What The Funk?
Genre: Smooth Jazz
Origin: USA
Released: 2010
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps

Tracklist:
Shake It (4:45)
The Hump (4:08)
Jump Start (4:17)
A Walk in the Park (4:44)
What The Funk? (4:09)
Sara Smile (3:56)
Trip Me (4:09)
Dance with Me (4:06)
Morning Light (3:3)5
Save Our Love (4:27)
Shine Your Light on Me (3:45)
Detroit Strut (4:04)

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With the hit CD’s ‘Pacific Coast Highway’, ‘Ready To Play’ and ‘Up Close And Personal’ already under his belt, the position of guitarist Nils as a major writer, performer and producer is well established. With a style that I have previously described as ‘chill out funk’ there is no doubt he often bestows his music with a hypnotic quality which transports the listener, trance like, to another place. His latest offering, ‘What The Funk’ is also guaranteed to do just that but, in doing so, this ultra tight twelve track collection has picked up a little attitude along the way.

In fact Nils puts down an early marker with the urgently grooving ‘Shake It’. It provides a timely reminder of what he is all about and is in the good company of the equally distinctive ‘A Walk In the Park’ which is entirely typical of the unique sound that this great player routinely generates. ‘Shine Your Light On Me’ also has that ‘driving with the top down’ vibe for which Nils has become famous while the moody ‘Morning Light’ proves to be a different but similarly fitting showcase for his distinctive playing.

The album’s only cover version is Nils’ understated take on the Hall and Oates classic ‘Sara Smile’. Suffice to say his interpretation works to perfection yet in complete contrast the urgent title cut does everything its name suggests it might. Nils, Kathryn Bostic and keyboard player Clydene Jackson all combine for the vocal chorus of this nine carat party tune and when Jackson again steps up on vocals her soulful tones add massively to the deliciously mid tempo ‘Save Our Love’. Velvety horns from Johnny Britt prove to be the icing on the cake and much the same can be said of the easy grooving ‘Trip Me’ which in part is notable for the rock solid foundation that Alex Al on bass and Ricky Lawson on drums provides.

Whereas ‘The Hump’ has a down and dirty kind of a groove that nevertheless is compelling, the zesty ‘Jump Start’ is quite simply hallmark Nils. This is first single to be serviced to radio and, at the time of writing, is already making a major impact on the chart of most played on smooth jazz radio. The fact it features live strings from Dov & The Lovestar Strings only adds to the magic but other notable contributions come from bass player Reggie McBride and, not for the only time, the excellent Oliver Brown on percussion.

Nils varies the input of his backing musicians throughout and for ‘Dance With Me’ relies only on drums from Lawson and more great percussion from Brown. Arguably the album’s best track, this bright and breezy Latin tinged stunner is fabulous but right up there as another personal favourite is Detroit Strut’. Although given its title, the listener could be forgiven for expecting something out of the Funk Brothers song book, Nils is never that predictable. Instead he delivers a tight, funky, guitar driven gem that serves as a dynamic end to a wonderful CD.

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