Artist: Plunky & Oneness
Genre: Afro-Funk, Smooth Jazz
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
Phunk Jam (3:47)
Love Makes Us Better (3:56)
Crazy Lately (4:09)
True Interlude (0:39)
Thank Me Later (3:55)
Only You (4:15)
Dance the Night Away (4:25)
Word of Mouth (4:20)
2nd Street Jaunt (3:46)
Afroclectic Creates (0:25)
Love Ain’t Always Easy (3:57)
Eclecticism is the practice of deriving ideas or styles from a broad range of sources. Afroclecticism is using black cultural artifacts to create new, positive experiences. And that’s what J. Plunky Branch has practiced for decades: drawing from a wide range of music sources to develop his repertoire of Afro-funk, nu-jazz, hip-hop, R&B, neo-soul and world music songs.
Almost two years in the making, Afroclectic, is the latest music journey by Plunky & Oneness. The album is a deep collection of original songs curated to fashion an artistic collage of musical genres. Alongside the ever fresh Oneness and his beat-making son, Fire, as co-producer, Plunky boldly blurs the lines between categorical styles to share stories and creative visions of wonder.
The playlist on Afroclectic flows from instrumental funk to odes of rhythm & blues, to soulful vocals tones and introspective smooth jazz. The liberated sonic mix is Afropolitan, rhythmic and seductive; paying tribute to our ancestral past with percussive offerings uplifting our inspired presence.
Plunky Branch started making albums in 1970 in San Francisco and then worked in New York’s jazz scene before going back to his hometown, Richmond, VA in 1975. Since then he has released 25 albums, written 400 songs, toured in Europe, been to Africa six times, visited Cuba twice, played hundreds of gigs in clubs, concerts and festivals, made documentary films and videos, written his autobiography, and received numerous prestigious awards.
Plunky’s journey brings him to this place and time and with Afroclectic he brings forth a collection of songs that brims with optimism. The music says yes, the future is now.
Plunky & Oneness is a band of musical nomads based in one place, Virginia. The group includes three Branches: Plunky (saxes, vocals), Muzi (bass, vocals) and Fire (percussion, tracks), Plunky, his brother and his son. The featured vocalist, Charlayne “Chyp” Green, has been with the ensemble for almost 20 years, but she is as fresh as ever. And there are revolving master instrumentalists (keyboardists, J. L Harris, Fabian Lance and Dr. Weldon Hill; guitarists, Carl Lester El and Chris Beasley; and percussionists, Asante and Abdou Mohammed) who combine forces to create music with diverse textures and possibilities. The songs on this album: Afro-funk instrumentals, R&B message songs with soulful vocals, and introspective smooth jazz, set the stage for dancing and mellow contemplations. Plunky has combined the forces of Oneness to create visions of Afro-now-ness with multiple depths of field.
The album’s lead off song, the sax-synth funk instrumental, “Jam,” burns hot and saxy until it crosses the bridge of mellowness for a brief respite; then it’s back to its searing groove. “Love (Makes Us Better)” has a mystical jazz-funk groove and features Plunky’s soprano sax and vocals. The song is mellow and edgy at the same time, conveying political and spiritual overtones in its message and its mood.
Similarly, “2nd Street Jaunt” features multi-layered saxophones, keyboards and loops, but its feel is upbeat and whimsical. The other funk instrumental, “Word of Mouth” is developed over Plunky’s vocalized African rhythms and a soul groove that will make heads bob, feet tap and hips shake.
The R&B soul songs of the album, while not activists’ anthems, do convey conscious messages. “Crazy Lately” references recent political and social craziness, but the song exudes calming optimism through the sweet, soulful vocals of Charlayne “Chyp” Green proclaiming, “…we gonna be all right.” Right on! Chyp also sings the chorus on “Rise,” a track that features words of wisdom from elder poets, Ngoma, Olamina, and Plunky.
The album’s three smooth instrumental ballads are spiced with saxophone meanderings, subtle poly-rhythms and intimations of trap jazz. “Midnight,” “Dream,” and “Reflections” are chill-out pieces that are cinematic, romantic and meditative.
“Dance the Night Away,” is a song about the dance floor as a place to take a break from the rigors of resisting, evolving and working. Come take a ride to paradise and follow the song’s command “to dance the night away.” At the club or house party or wherever you wanna get down, “this Afro-groove is made to move you and everyone else too.”
Two songs on the album are outliers, but have potential mass commercial appeal. “Thank Me Later” features Bobby McFerrin-like vocalized instrumentation, including beat box rhythms percolating under George Clinton-type lyrics: “Let me funk you now and you can thank me later!” And “But Love Is” is neo-Southern-soul over a Billy Joel-type piano riff. While these two songs don’t necessarily fit a righteous message music playlist, they do highlight Plunky’s versatility and well-rounded sense of humor.
The album is consistently Afropolitan, rhythmic, gritty, mellow and grooving, i.e. funky. You can thank Plunky later.