There’s a party goin’ on right here!
Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.
Tonight, a legendary musical group in a way you may not have heard them before.
In the state of Wisconsin for the past 30 years or so, you are not legally married unless the following are played or performed at your wedding reception:
1) A polka
Tonight’s featured band played at Summerfest Thursday night.
Kool & the Gang had been performing since 1964 and enjoyed success in the 1970’s. But their R & B and soul tunes never reached #1 until the group converted to a full-fledged disco sound (some would argue they sold out) in 1980 with “Celebration.” Before that anthem, there was “Jungle Boogie” and “Hollywood Swinging” and others. And before that, there was…….jazz?
Starpulse.com reports, “Robert ‘Kool’ Bell and his brother Ronald (or Khalis Bayyan) grew up in Jersey City, NJ and picked up the music bug from their father. A professional boxer, he was also a serious jazz lover and a close friend of Thelonious Monk. With Robert on bass and Ronald picking up an array of horns, the duo formed the Jazziacs in 1964 with several neighborhood friends: trombone player Clifford Adams, guitarists Charles Smith and Woody Sparrow, trumpeter Robert ‘Spike’ Michens, alto saxophonist Dennis Thomas, keyboard player Ricky West, and drummer Funky George Brown (all of whom, except Michens and West, still remained in the group more than 30 years later).”
Mention Kool & the Gang today and “Celebration’” immediately comes to mind. But 26 years earlier, the band was playing material that would never see a top 40 chart. The Jazz Birds became the Jazziacs, and in their recent “The Hits: Reloaded” album, Kool & the Gang paid tribute to their roots. Have you ever heard Kool & the Gang like this?
Before the band went commercial in the 70’s, they recorded two live albums, “Live at the Sex Machine” and “Live at P.J.’s.” The tracks were anything but disco. Decades later, here’s the group performing “Dujii” from the 1971 LP, “Live at P.J’s.”
I had the privilege of seeing and meeting Kool and the Gang while working backstage at the Main Stage at the Wisconsin State Fair when they appeared in 2007. They got a big kick when I asked if they would play “Summer Madness.” The young drummer was actually laughing, totally blown away that someone would request that nugget instead of one of the bigger hits. He ran to Robert “Kool” Bell and brought him over to me. “Tell him” the drummer said to me. “Tell him what you told me! Tell him what you want to hear!” I did, and they did. What a thrilling experience to be that close to musical giants. Hard to believe, but nearly 50 years and millions and millions of records sold later, Kool & the Gang are still performing.
Let’s hear another track from the “Live at P.J.’s” LP. It’s called N.T.
Love those old album covers.
Next, a selection from Kool & the Gang’s other live album we mentioned earlier, “Live at the Sex Machine.”
This one falls into the “You’re not gonna believe it” file.
Kool & the Gang does..
I kid you not.
That’s it for this evening.
Have a Kool weekend.
We close with this track from THE HITS: RELOADED.
I think you’ll recognize this from Kool & the Gang joined by famous British singer Lulu and the London Community Gospel Choir…
Kool &the Gang’s first single in 10 years is out this month. This has great groove and boy you can dance to it making it a sure hit.