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January/February 2008

Nils Landgren Funk Unit
Licence to Funk
ACT Music + Vision

The Swede Nils Landgren, he with the red trombone, has toured with Swedish pop phenomena Björn Skifs, recorded with jazz and pop legends on more than 500 CDs and in 2004 offered a sublime recording with Joe Sample. But when it’s time for real fun, it’s time for real funk. Landgren created his Funk Unit more than 15 years ago, and the collusion of funk and happy times coalesced most memorably a few years back as Landgren and crew twisted Swedish legend ABBA’s pop-happy songs into nasty funk on Funky ABBA. They’re back with this new CD, a tasty concoction of mostly originals Landgren wrote with the help of his capable bandmates.

Funky is as funky does for the most part, with “here we come y’all” singing, brassy walls of sound, thumping bass and funk’s rhythmic groove bringing home tunes like “For Those Who Like to Party,” “House Party” and “Stuff Like That.” But, crafty as he is, Landgren knows a continuous 12-song freak-on would be tough sell. “Tomomis Tune” and “Capetown Shuffle” both give the players a chance to slow down and give their excellent jazz chops the opportunity to stretch without the brass and vocals.

It would be remiss to not name Landgren’s excellent funk unit: guitarist Ray Parker Jr., bassist Magnum Coltrane Price, keyboardist Ida Sand, drummer Wolfgang Haffner, and Magnus Lindgren on woodwinds.

Originally published in January/February 2008
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