"Keep Movin'" - Big Sam's Funky Nation

"Keep Movin'" (PDF) from the Big Sam's Funky Nation album, Peace, Love & Understanding.
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Welcome Big Sam Williams to the blog!  You may recognize him from a little band known as the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.  Well, now he has put together his own rollicking ensemble of musicians who bring the Powerfunk.

The first thing that you will notice about the Funky Nation's music is the heavy influence of rock and roll, the driving pulse is fueled by electric guitars and resounding drums.  As the title suggests, the mission of the beat is to push forward instead of sitting back into the groove.  The high-level energy brought by the Funky Nation's music is meant to keep those dancing feet a-movin', or else.

Similarly, you will quickly realize how skillful Big Sam is before you stumble over your own feet trying to play this music.  Although the music appears to be as simple as that old time rock and roll, there have not been too many horn players who have been able to keep up with those fast, pickin' guitars.  In order to produce some rapid-fire sixteenth notes, a strong, steady stream of air must be maintained so that the tongue can shoot off the more technical passages.

The solo primarily uses the E minor pentatonic and blues scales, but its rhythms are varied as a way to create tension.  The eighth-note phrasing is used to express melodic ideas, while the repeating sixteenth-notes only prolong the resolution of a phrase.  The use of syncopation is scarce.  The beat must be loose and flexible in order to syncopate it with feeling, whereas the rigidness of Powerfunk will not allow for the beat to give way.  

Yet, Big Sam is able to incorporate elements of his jazz playing into Powerfunk.  The use of chromaticism in the Melodies allows for him to make the connections between the notes in the pentatonic scale.  The in-between notes act as filler that helps extend his ideas and add a layer of depth.  Regarding the chromatic Outros in the Melodies, both passages outline an augmented chord with an added 9th (1-3-#5-9).  That can be a formulaic approach to learning it, but try developing your ear to hear the intervals between the chord tones.

SPECIAL THANKS to Allen Sanders and Tom Vogel for your donation and comments!

You ever see Big Sam and Trombone Shorty play together?  No?!!!  Watch this YouTube video now!

Recommended Listening: Roderick On The Line: Ep. 01 "Keep Moving and Get Out of the Way" by Merlin Mann and John Roderick.