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Jungle Funk, Jungle Funk (CD, 70:06); Zebra ZD 44014-2, 1999
Zebra Records
P.O. Box 9178
Calabasas, CA 91372
Phone: 800-323-2294 ext. 317 (Rob Evanoff)
E-mail: revanoff@zebradisc.com
Cyberhome: www.Zebradisc.com

        Jungle Funk is a trio composed of drummer Will Calhoun and bassist 
Doug Wimbish, both formerly of Living Colour, and Vinx, a backup 
percussionist for the likes of Sting and Peter Gabriel and a solo 
vocalist in his own right. Their debut, Jungle Funk, was 
recorded live in Austria in April 1998. The music contains elements 
of Living Colour-style hard funk, but it's updated for the 90s with 
drum programming, sampling, and other features imported from the 
world of jungle, drum 'n bass, and kindred DJ and dance genres. The 
band's press material asks, "How can three guys make that much 
sound?" Indeed, for a live recording, this is a technological 
	There are essentially two different kinds of tracks on this 
CD - the all-out drum groove tracks, mostly instrumental, and the 
R&B/pop song tracks. Jungle Funk succeeds more with the former than 
the latter. Songs such as "Ugly Face," "September," "Torn," 
"Temporary Love," and "Still I Try" feature Vinx's rich baritone 
vocals, but the lyrics are mediocre and the melodies aren't strong or 
memorable enough to make any of them a viable pop single, which seems 
to have been the intention. On the other hand, "People," the best 
track on the disc, shows what this group can accomplish in terms of 
setting up a killing groove. Along the same lines, check out 
"Worship," "Headfake," "Cycles," and especially Calhoun's live 
drumming on the final track, "Research & Development." This record is 
described on the jacket as "DJ-inspired virtuosity," and on these 
cuts, I buy it.
	Jungle Funk relies heavily on technology, but they use it in 
subtle and musical ways. Some highlights include the digitally 
generated notes moving in unison with Vinx's scat vocal toward the 
end of "Ugly Face"; the intricate vocal layering heard on 
"September"; and the odd timbres that make up "Perculator" and 
"Prague City Lights." The fact that all these effects were pulled off 
at a live show makes them all the more impressive.
	It's an interesting gambit: a funk/drum 'n bass/"DJ-inspired" 
project that is actually a band, rather than an anonymous, 
austere presence behind turntables and tape loops. One wonders 
whether "DJ-inspired" music can be successully melded to a more 
traditional live band concept. By making their debut a live 
recording, Jungle Funk intends to argue that it is possible. There's 
only one way to find out: go see them live.
~David R. Adler

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