Michael Ray & the Cosmic Krewe

Funk If I Know

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The minute one sees the outrageous, eccentric attire that Michael Ray sports on the cover of Funk If I Know, two names come to mind: George Clinton and Sun Ra. It's no coincidence -- the trumpeter spent many years in Ra's challenging Arkestra, and his years with Kool & the Gang give him some funk/soul credentials as well. Ra could be very abstract and left of center, but for the most part, this CD is fairly accessible and direct. Backed by his band the Cosmic Krewe, Ray embraces a few Ra pieces (including "Cosmos #2" and "Dance of the Cosmos Aliens") but also tackles everything from '70s-type funk and rap to hard-swinging Latin jazz, hard bop, and swing. Ray takes it outside at times, but he doesn't stay there very long before coming back inside and swinging. This is an unpredictable, diverse CD that takes its share of risks, but it also makes a cohesive, logical statement. Highly recommended.

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