MEMBERS AND INSTRUMENTS: Andrew Sarabia (guitar); Chuck Boogie (keyboard, turntables); Mark Stanley (bass); Chad Villarreal (drums); Miguel Ramirez (percussion).
KINDRED SPIRITS: Motown, some CTI jazz flavors of the late ’60s and early ’70s, a bit of the Blue Note and Impulse! roster, Bitches Brew, Mahavishnu, Earth Wind and Fire, early Santana . . . get it?
RECENT RELEASE: Soul Love An’ Groove (2007)
For too many years, artists have been mining the funk for their own purposes. They’ve been sampling the funk behind their own rhymes. And they’ve been melding the funk into the backgrounds of television shows and movies. In short, many things have become funkified, but the funk itself has been left out in the cold to hang alone, as true funk outfits haven’t shared the commercial limelight in the same way that hip-hop, R&B, rock and country has in recent times. But, with bands like San Bernardino’s own S.L.an’G. writing their own prescriptions for a pure groove-based good time, an updated concoction on the rhythm-heavy riff (add some rock, hip-hop and jazz pills in there) is just what the doctor ordered to put this supreme style back on the scene.
Slugging it out for the past several years, S.L.an’G. are the masters of taking a riff and running with it—and this jazz-based improvisational instinct isn’t just some special nicety, it’s an essential ingredient here. Sure, it ain’t the pure ’60s funk your parents recall, but your 60-year-old parents will likely appreciate this modern take on the style they so learned and loved.
There are 17 tracks of eternal, unwavering pulse persistence on S.L.an’G.’s 2007 disc, Soul Love AN’ Groove. Put it on and you’ll nab the gist in a jiffy—this is contemporary pocket playing, with heads bobbin’ in sync, bass lines laying down the law with the backbeat, and a full dose of keys mingling with subtle scratches. And as loose fitting and comfy as it appears, there’s also a sense of a group that’s not simply well rehearsed, but well defined.
So, to what does guitarist Andrew Sarabia attribute his band’s inclination in heading towards such a soulful direction? How’s about a healthy dose of listening from all ends of the spectrum? “The Godfather of Funk James Brown,” he starts, “Jaco Pastorious, Frank Zappa, John Coltrane, J.S. Bach and a ton of other pioneers innovators of jazz, country, soul, classical . . . I think you get the picture.” Yes, we do—it’s loud ‘n’ clear on our speakers!