Getting Funky on The Used Side With Grant Green
It’s TUSEDay, which means Mills Record Company is restocking the used sections with newly arrived vinyl, fresh for perusal. In addition to the all the late 90s/early 00s radio pop singles (think TLC, Britney Spears, Will Smith), there is also a copy of Grant Green’s His Majesty King Funk!. The album lands heavily on the jazz influenced side of funk, eschewing the growling and effected bass of later funk acts for organ leads and minimal percussion. His Majesty King Funk! is the perfect record to get into jazz/funk–its slowed down melodies are smoky and smooth.
The album starts with the burner, “Salem March.” The song’s classic mixture of horns and subtle organ lays the groundwork for the dueling percussion lines. The eight and a half minute track wastes no time showing how heated its guitar leads can get–repeating and complicating riffs as the song spins. Not quite bebop and not smooth jazz, “Salem March” bubbles with an energy that could light up a dance floor or be the perfect soundtrack for a night at home. Ending the same way it started, the song sets the bar for the rest of His Majesty King Funk!.
After “Salem March,” the album slows a bit with “Willow Weep For Me.” The song mellows the funk brought on the first track with jazzy syncopation and intricate improvisations. This is perhaps why His Majesty King Funk! has the power it does; being able to flip from swift lounge funk to straight slow jazz gives the album a depth that is rare.
Picking up the slack, “The Cantaloupe Woman” returns the album to the tempos of its beginning. Sounding like a Dave Brubeck and Jr. Walker collaboration, “The Cantaloupe Woman” is bouncy and just plain fun. The song, despite the highly technical shifts and structure, centers around a simple and catchy riff. The riff establishes the song’s playful tone, giving a space for other instruments to echo and play within its melody.
The album ends with its fastest song, “Daddy Grapes.” A flash boil of picked guitar and sparkling organ, the track brings His Majesty King Funk! to a fever pitch before the needle hits the dead wax. Despite its speed, “Daddy Grapes” never loses sight of its clean melodies, making it just as approachable as the smoothest examples of jazz.
Whether you are a master of the funk or just testing the waters, Grant Green’s His Majesty King Funk! is a must have. The 1965 record is funky and jazzy, slinking through its rhythms like a jungle cat on the prowl. Quick and dancey at points and brooding and glacial at others, the record will keep you mesmerized as its grooves unfurl. Check out this and so many other used gems hitting the racks today at Mills Record Company.