Funky Donkey Vol.1

A 2 track jazz-funk album (38m 9s) — released November 10th 2023 on Wewantsounds

Closely associated to the Black Artists Group in St. Louis, the Human Arts Ensemble was a loose collective of musicians sharing many of its musicians, such as Joseph Bowie, Floyd LeFlore and Charles Bobo Shaw. The group also had close connections to Chicago's AACM as the presence of Lester Bowie on "Funky Donkey" testifies.

Recorded in the Autumn of 1973 at Berea Presbyterian Church, the concert, led by saxophonist Luther Thomas, catches the formidable energy of a group on fire. Side 1 consists of the track "Funky Donkey" which, to paraphrase John Corbett is "what you get when you mix the JB's and a hand grenade."

Powered by Marvin Horne's guitar licks, Eric Foreman's Fender bass and Charles Bobo Shaw's groove, the track turns into a 20-min free-funk extravaganza heavy on bass and percussion, before slowing down to pave the way for "Una New York" on Side 2. A superb mid tempo spiritual meditation loosely modelled on Pharoah Sanders' "The Creator Has a Masterplan," Charles Bobo Shaw's composition gives plenty of space over 18 min for the musicians to improvise with inspired solos by Thomas, Bowie and Marvin Horne.

The album was only released in 1977, a few years after the concert took place on Luther Thomas' short lived label Creative Consciousness Records, just before Thomas got into the New York Downtown/no wave scene playing with James Chance, just as Joe Bowie was breaking new grounds with his group Defunkt of which "Funky Donkey" can be seen as a forerunner. The album was reissued on CD on John Corbett's Atavistic label in 2001 but this is the first time "Funky Donkey Vol.1" is reissued on vinyl, remastered by Colorsound Studio in Paris and featuring liner notes by Howard Mandel, exactly fifty years after this groundbreaking concert was recorded, which Wewantsounds is happy to put back into circulation.

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