We so rarely review upbeat soulful jam bands on RapReviews that I would like to take a moment to acknowledge every single member of Breakestra. They deserve the accolades now because later on, when you’re knee deep in their funky grooves, you’re not going to be contemplating who plays which part. So ladies and gentlemen let’s thank the Breakestra crew right now. We’ve got Miles Om Tackett on bass, CELLO and vocals. Over there we’ve got Pat ‘The Snake’ Bailey on guitar. James ‘The Penguin’ King hooks up the saxophone the sweet sweet flute notes. Oh yeah, that’s Dan Hastie playing the Fender Rhodes and the organ. Can’t forget about Devin Williams and Todd Simon playing trumpet. Gotta give it up to Chuck Prada and Greg Velasquez on percussion, and Shawn O’Shandy on the drums. We must thank Mix Master Wolf doing what can only be called “soul shoutin’ and sangin’.” Is that everybody? Alright now, then here we go!
Now if this large Voltron collective of musicians can be said to have a head, its form is Miles Tackett. Even after a four year hiatus between albums, it’s the passion and dedication of Tackett that kept this collective of funky Los Angeles artists working together. Tackett’s whole goal was to create a live jam sound that was the musical equivalent of what Cut Chemist and Mix Master Wolf did breaking down classic funk and R&B on the mix – a band that played its OWNsamples. The moment you hear the opener of “Dusk Till Dawn” that’s exactly the feeling that you get – you want to start looping their bass, guitar and drums for yourself. The singing is Curtis Mayfield meets Al Green, straight out of the 1970’s for all of the right reasons. “It’s a good thing baby, that my story’s told/got a new destination, and it’s time to roll.” The sound is either a retro throwback to the peak of funk or so far ahead in funk’s future that we haven’t gotten there yet.
Every mood you can think of is encapsulated in the breadth of the 15 tracks on “Dusk Till Dawn.” The uptempo bouncy flute of “Dark Clouds Rain Soul” break through the lead singer’s stormy days and find bright sunshine. Afrodyete’s seductive siren call on “Come On Over” would be impossible to refuse – I’d give her “that sweet sweet thing” any time she asked for it. The rolling bop of “Get it Right” makes your feet tap whether you want them to or not – it shoots like electricity into your toes. When Breakestra profess “I Don’t Wanna Wait” for love another day, you need to grab the man or woman you care for the most and show what you know. A little rap even manages to slip into the mix here, as the late DJ Dusk shares a little vocalism with the deep throated tones of Chali 2na on “‘Posed to Be”:
“Follow the leader mayne, even if you need a lane
My hunger pain so extreme I could eat a plane
Still in the game tryin to maintain ’til to restrain
Killin my brain muscle drained, you can see my vein
Me and Wolf be the best when we rip
Runnin like your teeth on an ecstasy trip
Tryin to see hundreds of thousands, tell Calvin
that we ain’t sellin burgers no more, we sellin albums!”
It’s all good on “Dusk Till Dawn,” an album title that pays tribute to DJ Dusk but also describes how late you might be up dancing to these grooves. Breakestra take you “North-East to Nippon” with ease, making a “Joyful Noise” all the while. You will too if you pick up this album. Skeptical readers may wonder why they should invest in a funk band album that has almost no rapping, but if you’re a fan of George Clinton, James Brown or Miles Davis this album needs no other explanation.