Since 1994, Brooklyn Funk Essentials have been presenting their unique brand of eclectic funk to ecstatic audiences, the world over. Made up of musicians, singers and poets from around the globe, the group famously mixes styles like soul, jazz, latin, house, drum & bass, ska, afrobeat and Anatolian melodies all rolled into one ferocious funk fest. If it grooves, they will funk it!
Born out of New York’s buzzing hip-hop-jazz and slam poetry scenes of the early nineties. Brooklyn Funk Essentials was originally conceived by producers Arthur Baker and Lati Kronlund as a series of studio jam sessions, the group soon turned into a 12-piece live outfit consisting of some of the finest young musicians, singers, rappers, dub poets and DJs the Big Apple had to offer.
The debut album ‘Cool & Steady & Easy’ also featured prominent guests like Maceo Parker, The Tower Of Power Horns, Michigan & Smiley and even Dizzy Gilespie. It was first released by renowned UK label Dorado in 1994 in Europe, but was soon picked up by RCA’s Groovetown imprint who released it in 1995 in the US and the rest of the world. The first single – a funky reggae-inspired reworking of Pharoah Sanders and Leon Thomas' classic ‘The Creator Has A Master Plan’ became an instant hit, reaching the Top 20s in certain countries. The album, which topped Billboard Magazine’s ”Best R&B Album Of The Year 1995”, also featured songs like ‘Big Apple Boogaloo’, ‘Take The L Train’, ‘Dilly Dally’ and ‘A Headnadda’s Journey To The Planet Adidi – Skizm’, all of which became classics of the genre. The popular album cut 'Bop Hop' was featured in a world wide Nike commercial featuring Grant Hill and ‘Take The L Train’ became a signature tune for Hennessy Cognac’s TV ads.
Apart from being regulars on the New York club scene, BFE began touring the world marking highlights in the company of acts like Parliament Funkadelic, The Roots, James Brown, Jamiroquai, The Meters and Ben Harper. One of these tours found the group headlining the Fuji Jazz Festival in Istanbul, Turkey. The reception was so great that BFE went back to record their second album there in 1998, together with eleven Turko-Roman folk musicians know collectively as Laço Tayfa. The result was the album ‘In The BuzzBag’, which became a milestone in Anatolian collaborative projects and earned BFE a Grammy nomination at home in the US. It also escalated the group to a stadium capacity act in Turkey.
In 2000, BFE released their third album ‘Make Them Like It’ (Dorado/PIAS/Shanachie), which concluded where the first album left off: A mixture of funk, Latin, ska, jazz, house, R&B, dub, drum & bass and hip hop which featured fan favorites such as ‘I Got Cash’, ‘Mambo Con Dance Hall’, ‘Jump Around Sound’ and ‘Woman Thing’. At the end of 2000, many members of the band went on to persue solo careers. Iwan VanHetten replaced both ATN Stadwijk on keys and Bob Brockmann on trumpet. Andre Atkins took over the trombone spot after Josh Roseman and Tony Taylor took over the drum chair from Yancy Drew. Dave Jensen took over from Paul Shapiro on saxo [more]