Plunky On Fire – Hot Beats & Saxy Wordplay
Plunky on fire, as in burning up? Yes, but on a hot new CD of Plunky recording on tracks produced by his son, Fire…
Funk jazz saxophonist J. Plunky Branch has always needed a string of genres following his name to characterize his music. With his new release Plunky On Fire, he continues to create urban contemporary music that amalgamates funk, jazz, R&B, and global soul into his mix, crafting a sound that is unique and current.
Plunky & his son, Fire, have produced an album of new songs that are both retro and ultramodern by utilizing the lyrical styles and melodies of R&B and jazz in conjunction with the techniques and technology of hip-hop. The result is a new, organic-techno soul music that is highly danceable, listenable and funky.
Plunky and Fire’s music is artistic and authentic, its realness having been honed and tested during countless on stage performances by their legendary group, Plunky & Oneness. Fire’s hip-hop tracks have also been validated by numerous Dirty South and pop rap artists who work with and value Fire’s beats, and by various television and video projects that have utilized his songs.
In this Plunky On Fire collection there are four subdivisions of the urban contemporary genre represented: 1) R&B/Dance, 2) Funk/Soul, 3) World/Message music, and 4) Smooth/Ballads. The R&B targets lovers, club go-ers, and those who want to move. The Funk seeks out those who feel their oats, instincts and mind-body connections. The world message songs seek to inspire global culturalists and world travelers. And, the Smooth/Ballads set a mellow mood.
Actually all of the songs on Plunky On Fire are soulful, funky and urban. “Soulful” because the lyrics speak to us on multiple levels and they are delivered in ways that strike emotional chords. All the songs are “funky” because the rhythms are all intended to work the body, specifically in the area at the bottom of the torso. And lastly, this is urban contemporary music, city music, the sounds of being in close proximity to urbane folks and moving with them as a body, a party, a movement, anywhere in the world, like right now.
While the production duties are handled exclusively by Plunky and Fire, the music is augmented by the Plunky & Oneness band members. P. Muzi Branch plays bass guitar, Derrick Simmons adds live drum licks and splashes, Tonya Lazenby-Jackson colors with keyboard textures, and newest band member, Jose Pomier, shows amazing versatility playing lead and rhythms guitars, employing p-funk, hard rock, smooth jazz and soul riffs with equal dexterity and acuity beyond his twenty-something years. Plus there are cameo appearances by some of Fire’s young hip-hop and jazz friends.
The songs are all lyrical and narrative, illustrating situations, encouraging action and/or conveying emotions. The singing is germane to the messages in the music and to the personality of the recording. Plunky sings his songs with soulful sincerity. He owns them and their content thoroughly and unabashedly. His limits in vocal range are more than compensated by his energy, earnestness and his musical insight.
The background vocals are handled by Tonya Lazenby-Jackson and Charlayne “Chyp” Page-Green, two ladies with years of studio and stage experience and who are members of Plunky & Oneness. They are totally at ease in their sonic surroundings. Their multi-tracked voices create choruses of soul that shimmer and shape the character of the different songs.
Each songstress provides the lead vocals on a song as well. Tonya sings “On My Way” with a sassiness that ranges from bouncy to bombastic in proclaiming that nothing will stop her moving on up to the top. On “Inside These Walls” Charlayne is a sensual goddess proclaiming secret pronouncements of love’s power. The ladies possess these songs, making them their own by interpreting or re-working Plunky’s words.
These Plunky On Fire songs taken together constitute a complex album, a CD. They may be released or licensed as individual songs, singles, even online, or in some digital format somewhere in the nu-ether of the web or some 4G space. But together these songs document a new beginning in the life of an artist and represent yet another phase of Plunky: the Oneness of Phunk. This is also the beginning of a new, deeper reliance on the talents and support of his son, Fire. Plunky On Fire is a return to Plunky’s R&B roots and a testament that his creative fire still burns.