Two things about this album grabbed my attention. Being the huge Prince fan I am, the fact that his former keyboard player, Renato Neto, is in the band made me curious to check it out. I personally think Renato comes second only to Dr. Fink in the list of the best keyboardists to play in Prince's band so I'm glad to see him involved with a new project. But then, seeing that this is a new venture for guitarist extraordinaire Joe Bonamassa made this a must listen.
Bonamassa and Neto alone are reason enough to get excited about Rock Candy Funk Party, but checking the rest of the line-up out had me in awe of the talent assembled for We Want Groove. Tal Bergman, who currently is in Bonamassa's touring band and has played with the likes of Luther Vandross, Simple Minds and Terence Trent D'arby is on drums. Ron DeJesus, who has worked with Tito Puente and Hugh Masekela amongst many others is also on guitar and Mike Merritt, best known for his work in the Basic Cable Band on Conan O'Brien's show, rounds things out on bass. Yes, Merritt has been a part of Conan's house band since 1993 when O'Brien went on the air at NBC, but his credits also include work with such legends as Bruce Springsteen, Chuck Berry and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
With so much talent in one band, it's hard for things to go wrong and We Want Groove delivers with a mix of instrumental funk and jazz and plenty of nods to the best of the 70's and 80's eras. "Octopus-E" and the title track are fantastic instrumental funk jams, with everyone getting a chance to shine. "Spaztastic" brings the dueling guitarists to the forefront while Merritt really gets to strut his stuff on "Root Down (And Get It)".
There are also two sweet slow jams here. "New York Song" features Neto tinkling the keys as only he can on this slow jazz groove, while the sultry "The Best Ten Minutes Of Your Love" can only be referred to as the 'panty dropper'. Merritt's repeated bass line and Neto's exquisite keyboard work build a sexy atmosphere that never dissipates. Truly a seductive piece of music.
It's refreshing to come across an album like this these days. I get so caught up in current rock, folk and pop, I sometimes forget about the music that first truly moved me and that is the funk. Rock Candy Funk Party is definitely a party not to be missed.
We Want Groove was released January 29, 2013 on the J&R Adventures label.