by Raymond Redmond
Just exactly what is Jungle/Jazz? Take a liberal dose of Jazz vocals, add the driving drum and bass grooves most often found in the World/Beat/Jazz arena, toss in the occasional influence from the rock world and you’re there. Listening to Jungle funk is truly an experience waiting to be had.
But, is it Jazz? The same question has been asked about GURU or Jazzhole or Quincy Jones performing Acid/Jazz or some of the old stuff by Sun Ra or Pharaoh Sanders.
Drummer Will Calhoun, formerly of Living Color, has played with such jazz notables as Jaco Pastorious, Horace Arnold, Jack DeJohnette and Wayne Shorter as well as Pharaoh Sanders. Joined by Doug Wimbish, also formerly of Living Color and world music drummer/vocalist Vinx, Jungle Funk often strays over the conventional lines drawn between the Jazz, Rock and World Music arenas, but (important point) the tracks are improvisational and creative.
Not that it’s improvisational character automatically earns it entry to the ‘Jazz’ world, but taken in context with the often ethereal percussion and the jazzy, harmonic vocals you’ve got a strong case. Some people (that I know personally, even) try to argue that this may not even be jazz. Six years ago those same people thought that Acid/Jazz was a passing fad and twenty years ago they thought that Leon Thomas just liked to Yodel.
Sure, there are obvious rock influences. Yes, some of the percussions are actually (heaven forbid) LOOPS!, but it has a esoteric kind of jazzy flavor as well. Jungle/Jazz may persists in it’s current form, it may (more likely) evolves into something slightly different, as did Acid/Jazz. Is it Jazz? Listen to Jungle Funk and judge for yourself.
For more on Jungle Funk visit the Zebra Records Website