Funk, Inc.

Urban Renewal

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In 1995 -- 21 years after Funk, Inc.'s breakup -- organist and Jimmy Smith disciple Bobby Watley decided to assemble a new edition of his gritty soul-jazz quintet. Two original members -- conga player Cecil Hunt and Watley himself -- were joined by saxman Teddy Patterson, guitarist Doug Swanigan and drummer Phil Brines. Watley unveiled his new Funk with Urban Renewal, a solid effort that, like such classics as Chicken Lickin' and Hangin' Out, effectively combines the immediacy of soul and funk with the spontaneity of jazz. Before its demise, the original Funk had deteriorated quite a bit by smothering itself with overproduction; but that's not a problem here. From the earthy, down-home blues themes of "Sneaky" and "Get Some More" to a commanding interpretation of Herbie Mann's "Memphis Underground," Renewal makes it clear that accessibility and artistic integrity aren't mutually exclusive.

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