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 News Jazz 21/02/2011

Swedish Band Beat Funktion Inject '70s Funk With A Jazzy Vibe On Debut Album

Swedish Band Beat Funktion Inject '70s Funk With A Jazzy Vibe On Debut Album
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Uppsala, Sweden (Top40 Charts/ Beat Funktion Official Website) They hail from Sweden, and they only have one function: To funk.

The appropriately named Beat Funktion (http://www.wix.com/daniellantz/beat-funktion) could possibly be one of the world's most tirelessly energetic bands. That is no exaggeration. On their debut album, "The Plunge," Beat Funktion pushes the pedal to the floor, all the way down, and unleashes disco fireballs that would set any club ablaze. Imagine a well-honed jazz act schooled by Parliament and James Brown. That, in essence, is Beat Funktion.

Beat Funktion was formed in Uppsala, Sweden in 2007. "It was by pure chance," according to keyboardist Daniel Lantz. "I had ideas for a very long time to do something with funk and '70s grooves. It happened that I was contacted by a club owner back in 2007 who wanted live traditional jazz, a swing band playing standards, for one of his biggest club nights simultaneously with a modern DJ playing in the next room. I felt that it would be a disaster since most visitors for that night would be in their 20s and would never appreciate jazz standards from the '30s and '40s with jazz solos. How could they possibly dance to it? So I decided to take the liberty of rearranging all those jazz standards into funk songs. I kept the melodies, discarded the rest, and created bass grooves great for dancing. I got in touch with a number of jazz musicians I knew who could do it well, and we were ready to go. I was surprised, because it became a major hit on the dance floor. All those young people were overjoyed and came up in between tunes wanting to buy albums and asking the name of the band, which we did not have. So, Beat Funktion was born that same night."

For a first effort, "The Plunge" is surprisingly polished and brimming with swaggering self-confidence. From the start, the group was already aware of what exactly to do. "Capturing the essence of the '70s was there already from the beginning," Lantz explained. "The sound of the Fender Rhodes and other '60s/'70s sounds is surely an important ingredient, and with Johan Öijen's guitar, the possibility to include typical '70s inventions such as wah-wah and talk box is a true luxury. But I suppose the sound of the band has a lot to do with how the compositions are shaped, too. The stuff that I have written for the group has always been intentionally very melodic, harmonically simple, and easy on the ear; however, the dissonance from the jazz improvisations on top of that is what creates the band's sound, I think. I suppose the aspect of keeping the music dance-friendly has made me stay clear of odd time signatures, hence the prominent rock and disco beats. But I try not to be too theoretical about composition and set too many restrictions. According to me any musical expression is valuable to work with, as long as it comes from the heart."

Beat Funktion will have more than hearts racing when listeners take "The Plunge" on their new CD.- Robert Sutton



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