Saxophonist Gordon Jones scans dozens of empty beer cans and bottles spread out around the original Minimum Wage studio in Oregon Hill, where the group recorded its album, and laughs. “This is where the crime occurred,” he says. Then he turns more serious. “The vibe here in Oregon Hill is different and cool. Whenever we’ve fired up in the house, and we’ve been doing it for seven years now, there’s never been a complaint, never a call from the cops, and we’ve often played until dawn. To be appreciated by the neighbors like that is a real blessing.”
The music the Oregon Hill Funk All-Stars play is a rambunctious mix of styles with a common denominator of funk. Propelled by a sizable and talented horn section, and infected with a joyous party energy, the All-Stars throw down everything from Cypress Hill to Mandrill, James Brown to Chuck Brown, reggae to hip-hop to straight-up jazz. “We take the covers to a different place,” Jones says. “We find funk in all this music — it’s a groove we see and then we exploit it.”
Jones tries to pin down what unites the music of the group. “It’s the aspect of the pulse that makes something funky,” he concludes. “The depth of the pulse pushes the depth of the music.” And how does funk relate to Oregon Hill? Jones doesn’t hesitate. “Oregon Hill is a living, breathing thing, with a pulse of its own.” — Andy Garrigue
The Oregon Hill Funk All-Stars’ first studio album, 2004’s “Backbeat Sacrifice,” is available through the band’s Web site, www.ohfas.com.More Sites & Sounds...
Letters to the editor may be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org