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The Genres: Tony Green on Groove Music

Jamaaladeen Tacuma
Jamaaladeen Tacuma (phoot: Phoebe Ferguson)

In the ongoing music dialogue, the history of funk-jazz or groove music or dance-jazz—whatever—has generally turned out to be a series of open-ended questions like: What is it, really? Is it hard bop at its rootsiest? Or is it its more R&B-oriented offshoots? Is it electrified, post-JB/Sly/Hendrix groove? Is it the Brit-fueled revisionism of the widely unmourned acid-jazz fad? Or is it the heady undertakings of artists like Prime Time, M-Base, Defunkt, Medeski, Martin & Wood, et al.?

Funk-jazz is just as hard to pin down as its unhyphenated sibling, funk. But just as you could spend the next couple of eons trying to define whether Western funk started in New Orleans, Cuba, the South Bronx or Mississippi, you could twist yourself into knots trying to distill the essence of improv-oriented dance music.

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