There’s been a lot of conversation here in the blog about horn sections. It started with the beginning of Funky Friday, and has carried on through some of my other posts. I’ve made mention of how horn sections played a big part in the birth and growth of funk music. Like many things funk related, James Brown played a large part in proving the importance of a great horn section. With players like saxophonist Maceo Parker and trombonist Fred Wesley, among others, Brown’s horn sections were always razor sharp. In time, other bands built their own horn sections. Some of them even had names. Earth, Wind & Fire had the Phenix Horns. Parliament had the Horny Horns. Tower of Power had…well, the Tower of Power horns. You get the idea.
Today, rather than put the title of one song in my blog post title for Funky Friday, I’m going to feature two songs that make horns the focal point.
First of all, saxophonist David Sanborn has been playing R&B-flavored instrumental music for well over 40 years. He is one of the most popular and recognizable horn players in music; not only on his own releases, but he did lots of session work with many other artists. In 1991, he released the album Upfront, which contained what I felt was a tribute to James Brown’s band with the song “Hey.” If you press play, you will find a full on horn section, with Sanborn acting as Maceo, Marcus Miller giving the funky bass lines, Ricky Peterson offering some tasty organ licks and so much more. You have eight and a half minutes free? You should check this out.
The second example comes from the Hot 8 Brass Band out of New Orleans. I first heard of them on a podcast I listened to some years ago, called Soul Sanctuary. The “vibemistress” or host of the show, Stephanie Renee, was a big fan of brass bands, and often featured music from them on her show. This song I didn’t hear on the podcast, but in one of my forays at the music site Bandcamp, I found the Hot 8 version of Marvin Gaye’s classic “Sexual Healing.” If Gaye’s version was a come-on for the bedroom, this version is a call to move and groove. I’m sure my friend sonofabeach96 can testify to that New Orleans sound. I also consider this a very funky, yet different take on the song. And while the Hot 8’s singing will never be confused with the silky smooth Gaye, I can’t remember ever wanting to dance and move to Gaye’s version of the song.
I hope you enjoy Horns Times Two, and I hope it meets your funky expectations! As always, thanks for reading and listening. I hope these tunes start your Friday and your weekend off on a good note!
You know what? In case you want more horn blowing by the Hot 8, here’s a longer version of the song.