PLUNKY & ONENESS

Plunky & Oneness Release Only You 4-song Maxi Single EP

The storied history of Afro-jazz funk legends Plunky & Oneness continues with a new album, “Eclecticism,” to be released in June.  Saxophonist-producer J. Plunky Branch showcases the group’s range and diversity on the album which features smooth grooves, Afro-funk, soul and positive messaging. 

As a prelude to the new album, Plunky & Oneness is releasing a four-song EP on March 13.  While this maxi-single focuses on smooth grooves, the four tracks still showcase the variety, versatility and vibes the group has shown for more than 40 years and 25 albums.  But newness and innovation are also display on this EP as Plunky and his son, J. Fire Branch, have produced a collection of personal songs with multiple layers of beats, sounds and meanings.

Here’s how Plunky himself describes the songs on the EP/Maxi-single

“Only You” is a smooth groove song about your one and only love.  The tenor sax lead implies that it is a man speaking to his lover, but female background vocals make it clear that it is just as likely that a woman might sing it to hers.  Every listener can hope that if they asked their lover “who makes you happy,” the answer would be, “Only You.”  This song is my nod to Najee, Gerald Albright, Boney James, Kim Waters and all the smooth jazz saxophonists who make it mellow and funky at the same time.

“Love Makes Us Better” is about universal love.  The modal piano vamp on the track hearkens back to John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” and Pharaoh Sanders’ “Karma;” but this new song combines sequencing with live instruments, vocals and soprano sax.  The song was produced using modern hip-hop/R&B sampling techniques, instrumental improvisation and lyrics to create a nu-cosmic jazz.

The instrumental track, “Word of Mouth,” could have been titled “Oral History” or “Speaking in Tongues.”  This is truly a new music construct, using voices as percussion instruments and overdubbed saxophones as a rhythm section.  This is special, acoustic Nu-Afro-beat music; mellow and danceable. 

The introspective song, “Dream Safari,” uses a new age soundscape and a smooth jazz groove to create a vehicle for a tenor sax excursion into dream land.  It is cinematic, expansive and intimate.  A safari is an expedition and this is a soundtrack for a quest for wisdom, peace and love…

These are songs for this season, a lifetime in the making.   With these songs and the rest of the new album, I am intimating a subtle African and cosmopolitan aesthetic, an understated and diverse Afropolitan jazz-funk music.

 

Plunky Bio

Saxophonist-producer J. Plunky Branch has been creating and performing innovative, critically acclaimed music for more than four decades. With his group, Plunky & Oneness and before that, Oneness of Juju, Plunky was an early originator of Afro-jazz funk, go-go and conscious message music.  Recently recognized by the Virginia Commission for the Arts with a “50 For 50 Award” as one of the state’s most outstanding artists of the last 50 years, Plunky continues to produce, perform and move forward.  In June he will release his 26th album, “Plunky & Oneness – Eclecticism.”

Plunky & Oneness have appeared in concert and at festivals with some of the biggest names in Black music, including Patti LaBelle, Ray Charles, Earth Wind & Fire, Yellow Jackets, and Frankie Beverly & Maze, LL Cool J, George Clinton, and more.  The group has toured in the United States, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean, performing in prestigious venues in New York, Washington, DC, London, Paris, and Havana, Cuba. 

J. Plunky Branch is president of his own independent record label, N.A.M.E. Brand Records, through which he has released albums, music videos and a documentary film, Under the Radar – A Survey of Afro-Cuban Music.  He recently published his 450-page autobiography, PLUNKY: Juju Jazz Funk & Oneness.

J. Plunky Branch has served as an administrator, lecturer and teacher.  He is a two-time recipient of NEA Jazz Fellowships and he was appointed to the Governor’s Task Force for the Promotion of the Arts in Virginia.  He has been Director of the Jazz Ensemble at Virginia Union University as well as an instructor of Afro-American Music History at Virginia Commonwealth University, both in Richmond. 

In 2015 J. Plunky Branch was selected as one of the Strong Men & Women in Virginia History by the Library of Virginia. In 1999 he was recognized by Richmond Magazine as Musician of the Year.