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Oz Noy: Who Gives a Funk

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Oz Noy may be one of the most talented guitarists around, but it’s hard to imagine a less vainglorious album than Who Gives a Funk. The Israeli guitarist invited a slew of A-listers to join his group for 10 straightforward funk/R&B tunes rooted in the ’70s. A party record with mad skills, it plays like an homage to James Brown and his contemporaries.

In fact, Noy’s tight band covers Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good)” with the help of saxophonist Chris Potter and brings aboard JBs veteran trombonist Fred Wesley for “Come On,” a Brown-like number punctuated by the fattest bass percussion you’ve ever heard. John Medeski turns in a greasy Wurlitzer organ solo on “Flashback,” a tune marked by slippery key changes and deliberately misplaced beats. Robben Ford adds his own guitar solo to “Ice Man,” and Dweezil Zappa does the same to “Damn This Groove.”

Half of the compositions are Noy’s, and the covers are twisted so much that they are nearly new. Charles Mingus’ “Better Git It in Your Soul” is slowed down and funkified (Randy Brecker adds trumpet), and Thelonious Monk’s “Five Spot Blues” (featuring guitarist Joe Bonamassa) is thickened and played as straight-up blues rather than bebop. The band’s rendition of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” however, is faithful; it is Noy’s soulful solo that distinguishes it. Corey Glover, lead singer of the rock band Living Colour, leads a thrilling cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing” with soaring, almost screaming vocals. Despite all the guests, Noy’s vision and superb musicianship keeps Who Gives a Funk together and moving. As you will be.

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Originally Published