Like funk? Well, you’re probably a fan of polyester bell bottoms, oversize Bootsy Collins sunglasses and hair picks. You probably live in Brooklyn or London’s East End and have a healthy but romanticized reverence for all things from past eras.
Chances are that you’re not a formally trained musician from Austria, now living in London by way of Salzburg, Vienna, Boston and Paris. And yet, that’s just what Stefan Redtenbacher is: an anomaly, anachronism, a defiant demolisher of the pigeon-hole. Stefan is a true Austrian-bred funk fiend living in London and delivering “out-and-out spectacular funk” (Snowboy) or, as UK Bass Guitar Magazine put, it “a near perfect slice of jazz-funk from one of Europe’s great players.”
In his youth in Salzburg, Austria, Redtenbacher was weaned on Herbie Hancock and Maceo Parker. After playing the recorder (and hating it) as a young child, the ingenue knew that he loved that deep bass rumble coming from the speakers. After attending business school, Stefan cemented his love of bass at the esteemed Vienna Music Conservatory in Austria before attending Berklee in Boston. He then returned to Europe to live in London, where he formed Redtenbacher’s Funkestra (also known as RB Funkestra).
Striking a fine balance between exciting arrangements and fiery solos, Redtenbacher’s Funkestra never fails to delight with their feel-good, high-energy and original hybrid of funk, soul and jazz. The core sextet is Redtenbacher (bandleader, writer, bass), Mike Sturgis (drums), Eran Kendler (guitar), Rob Taggart (keys), Jim Hunt (sax) and Sid Gault (trumpet). Alongside this core group, their records feature Funk legends like trombonist Fred Wesley (James Brown, Parliament), baritone saxophonist Stephen ‘Doc’ Kupka, trumpeter Lee Thornburg, tenor sax player Lenny Pickett (Tower of Power), guitarists Elliott Randall (Steely Dan) and Eric Krasno (Soulive/Lettuce) as well as the finest horn sections from the vibrant London jazz and funk scene (featuring members from Incognito and Brand New Heavies) and Michael B. Nelson’s Hornheads (Prince).
The prolific group has recorded four albums and have two releases slated for late 2012 and spring 2013: a funky Christmas EP dropping November 15 featuring a ‘60s boogaloo, bossanova, happy-go-lucky, big band approach spanning funky ‘70s disco to contemporary breakbeat. A March 2013 release, “The Cooker,” is the outfit’s fifth instrumental outing. “The Cooker” further forges the group’s unique brand of funk without conforming to any trends, ranging from Parliament-esque ministrations to funk fusion, all with a mighty horn section and recorded with a retro tinge.
Stefan Redtenbacher’s brand of funk is a far cry from the oom-pah-pah that he grew up with in his native country of Austria. Redtenbacher still loves strudel but definitely favours the funk. His work with Redtenbacher’s Funkestra is the rare culmination of studying and living the funk in numerous countries, across two continents and through generations of bass-loving. He has arrived at a funk defiant of classification or borders; a funk all his own.
“The bass playing is great!” - Chuck Rainey (Bassist for Aretha Franklin)
“Man, that is some bad sh**. It’s great to hear from a dedicated funkster like yourself. I really love all the textured bass sh**.” - Will Lee (Letterman Show Bassist)
“Stefan [knows] what the funk is about.” - Fred Wesley (Trombonist for James Brown, Parliament and Funkadelic)
“Fantastic grooves, sound and overall conception. It is so good to hear a bassist that has the sensibility of being the foundation of the music.” - Marc Egan (Pat Metheny Band Bassist)