Plunky & Oneness Release New Album: Juju Jazz Funk
Plunky & Oneness continue their decades long output of extraordinary music with their latest album, Juju Jazz Funk. Produced by band master, J. Plunky Branch, with son, Fire, the new album is a distinctive and notable collection of melodies and messages for modern music lovers. Juju Jazz Funk contains nine original songs, along with two bonus tracks recorded live at a 2016 summer concert when the group performed with George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic.
Plunky, the ageless sage (think Quincy Jones, Hugh Masekela and George Clinton), recently published his autobiography, Juju Jazz Funk & Oneness. Though released separately, the new CD is the book’s companion piece. Together, the two works document the fusion of Plunky’s musical and philosophical visions. The range of cross-generational creativity is on full display in the variety of the grooves and the consciousness raising songs on Juju Jazz Funk.
The album represents an intersection of current and cutting-edge. There are two contemporary jazz pieces on the album: “Move Forward,” a funky instrumental just right for a party or smooth jazz radio playlist; and “One Love One Us,” a soulful excursion featuring the lyrics and vocals of Charlayne “Chyp” Green, Plunky’s longtime creative collaborator. Straight-up, old school funk is represented by new versions of two previously released songs: “This Is Our Time,” written by Plunky; and “Plastic (Is Easy to See Through),” penned by Plunky’s brother, Muzi, a mainstay, of the group for over 40 years. While these two songs were written decades ago, the funk and their messages are as timely and relevant as ever.
The underlying meaning in Plunky’s “Seize the Time” is simple, direct and moving. While the mood of the song is somber R&B, the message is uplifting.
“What Love Is” is a song in the odd 15/4 time signature that maintains its groove under Plunky’s rhythmic chanting “What love is, is what love gives...” Another chanted song, “Wisdom, Peace & Love” is in a mellow, progressive, modal jazz mode, reminiscent of Pharoah Sanders’ early work. Both songs display the outstanding nu-jazz musicianship of the band.
Afro-future music is represented by two percussion-driven songs: “Nu Juju Drum Song,” which Plunky composed by transposing a Nigerian juju music song into parts played on saxophones; and “Afro Future Dialogues,” an excursion of improvised exchanges between saxophone, djembe drum and other instruments.
Juju Jazz Funk is both the name of this album and a new name for Plunky’s multi-genre urban music. In addition to those previously mentioned, other Plunky & Oneness members featured on the album include: J. L. Harris, Bee Boisseau, Kaila Valdez and Abdou Muhammed. All contribute mightily to the vibe, imagery and performances of the band.
About this album Plunky says, “Sometimes it’s not about the hype or the form or fashion; it’s about the music and how it makes you feel. Does it move you, make you think, or laugh; does it raise your consciousness? Can it have a place in your playlists, can it be a part of your day or your week. Is it something you would share with a friend. That’s why we spend all those hours creating and re-creating and tweaking and re-tweaking and agonizing and dreaming about getting the music out to people: to share the feeling, our perspectives, the vibe – in the hopes that someone will get it, be moved by it and share it.”
Juju Jazz Funk is the latest edition of the spellbinding, conscious funk of Plunky & Oneness to be shared.