Title: The Power Of The One
Artist: Bootsy Collins
Format: CD, LP, Digital
Release date: October 23, 2020
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame legend Bootsy Collins is back, hitting us with The Power Of The One, his 25th album release. Bootsy has been a huge influencer in the popular music community for generations. As a bass player, he was one of the first to use effect pedals, particularly the MU-Tron III, which provided the envelope filter necessary to create the squealing synth-like sound featured on many of the songs he recorded as a member of Funkadelic. He was also a progenitor of the slide technique which is used in many of today’s different genres of music. Rolling Stone’s current list of the “50 Best Bassists of All Time” places Bootsy at #4, stating that he “redefined soul and funk bass playing in the Seventies, and, by proxy, rap and pop in the Eighties and Nineties. . . You can hear his influence in practically every bass player to come since…”
Bootsy began recording The Power Of The One at Sweetwater studios in Fort Wayne, IN. However, due to the restrictions caused by COVID-19, he was forced to finish the project at his home studio, the “Boot Cave.” Looking on the bright side, Bootsy says, “In these tragedies and in these storms is when the most beautiful messages can come out.” He goes on to say that “funk is making something out of nothing. As a team, it’s easier to pursue your dreams. It’s official: Family Approved, One Nation under a Groove!”
The album, produced, co-written and arranged by Collins, features the likes of jazz musicians Christian McBride and Branford Marsalis, funk drummer Franky Kash Waddy, and many others including Indiana University professor and IU Soul Revue director James Strong (bass), and past and present IU Soul Revue members Brennan Johns (horns), Alex Goldblat (guitar), and myself, Bobby E. Davis Jr. (keyboards). On a side note, Collins first trip to IU was organized in 2018 by Dr. Tyron Cooper, Director of the Archives of African American Music and Culture, who invited Bootsy to participate in a public conversation titled Funkology, moderated by UCLA professor Dr. Scot Brown. The event opened with the IU Soul Revue performing hits associated with Collins’ solo projects as well as his work with funk legends James Brown and George Clinton. Collins reciprocated by inviting members of the IU Soul Revue to perform with him that summer in LA, and later that year the entire class performed with him at the Cincinnati Jazz Festival. The three of us mentioned previously gained the opportunity to extend our relationship with Bootsy and perform on various songs featured throughout this album.
Dr. Cornel West, Victor Wooten, Béla Fleck, Steve Jordan, EmiSunshine, Rod Castro, The Williams Singers and Az Yet join Bootsy on “Stargate,” a track previously released as “Stars” to benefit MusiCares, a non-profit organization that was incorporated in 1993 by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to provide critical assistance for musicians in times of need. Collaborations with Branford Marsalis include “Club Funkateers” (with Victor Wooten), and Collins’ arrangement of Sly and the Family Stone’s “WantMe2Stay,” featuring legendary bass player and godfather of slap bass, Larry Graham, and American Idol singer, Uché. The P-Funk groove “Funkship Area-51” features collaborations with Christian McBride and Brother Nature. Snoop Dog takes the lead on the song “Jam On” along with seventeen-year-old Brandon “Taz” Niederauer on lead guitar.
The Power Of The One proves that the funk is still alive with the “funkateers” and continues to transform through the new “funksters” mentored by Bootsy. As the title suggests, the music on this album aims to unify. If we stand united, how can we fall? So please stand united with Bootsy, Funkateers and Funksters, “one nation under a groove” and get down just for the funk of it with The Power Of The One.
Reviewed by Bobby E. Davis, Jr.