Title - 'Get It How You Live'
Artist - The Royal Krunk Jazz Orkestra
For those not in the immediate know, a simple search on the internet for Russell Gunn will yield little results, an unusual occurrence in these days of ubiquitous information.
And this is a clue into the man; soft spoken, laid back, happy to reside just outside the spotlight as he immerses himself in a wide variety of musical projects.
Russell Gunn was raised in East St. Louis, Illinois. The relative distance of the city from other scenes meant that Russell was exposed to new music only when a scene gained national exposure.
This broad input informed his playing and composing, and led to his understanding of the full context of a genre. He holds the tradition and an understanding of history in high regard, and counts himself as fortunate to grow up in a time when he could learn from the greats.
Gunn’s new project is The Royal Krunk Jazz Orkestra. A big band based in his current home of Atlanta Georgia, RKJO is a natural mashup of the traditional Jazz Big Band, with Rhythm & Blues and Southern Hip-Hop sensibility.
The band played live weekly for over a year, with Gunn providing the vision and inspiration for the band to embrace and follow willingly. Once the natural language was fully mature, they headed into the studio to record their debut album.
Released on July 13th, 2018, 2018 via Ropeadope Records, that delightfully vibrant debut album, Get It How You Live is finally with us. Chock full of musical wonderment, The Royal Krunk Jazz Orkestra have brought tot he fore one of the most diverse and exciting albums of music I've heard in many a year.
1. "Get It How You Live (Intro)"
2. "Sybil's Blues" (featuring Theo Croker)
3. "If I Ever Fall In Love"
5. "The Critic's Song"
7. "Lyne's Joint"
8. "Switch Medley (There'll Never Be / A Brighter Tomorrow / I Call Your Name)"
9. "Ballad Of The Sad Young Men"
Opening with the intro 'Get It How You Live' ("Can you count, suckers? I say the future is ours ... if you can count"), that flows seamlessly into the funky, Egyptian-resonating jazz of "Sybil's Blues" (featuring Theo Croker) and the more mellow duo of both "If I Ever Fall In Love" and the stirring trumpet work (not to mention Dionne Farris' vocals) of "Fair."
After a quick male-spoken blues intro, we next get the upbeat and funktastic "The Critic's Song," which is followed by the laid back, and one of my own personal favorites here, the once-again Farris-vocalized "Hopeless."
The tempo raises slightly more so for the free flowing, late night vibe of "Lyne's Joint," which is followed by the t-top's off, summertime cruisin' of the "Switch Medley." Containing three separate parts - "There'll Never Be," "A Brighter Tomorrow," and "I Call Your Name" - at around ten minutes, it is a sheer delight from start to finish (and, yes, also includes, once again, the lovely Dionne Farris).
The album, of which Gunn himself has since said is "... is about explaining yourself in an honest way – when you open your mouth it has to be genuine", then rounds out with the quieter, soulful, heartfelt, euphoric trumpet notes contained with "Ballad Of The Sad Young Man," sung by, the one, the only, the sultry-toned delight herself, Dionne Farris.
Executively produced by the aforementioned "man behind the kollective mask," Russell Gunn (also conductor, arranger, composer, trumpet), he is joined here by an en masse of highly skilled musicians: Wes Funderburk – arranger; Trumpets - Curtis Watson, Lee King, Melvin Jones, Daniel Harper, Ali Barr, Darren English; Saxophones - Akeem Marable (A), Brian Hogans (A), Mike Walton (T), Jamel Mitchell (T), Eric Fontaine (B) (alto clarinet), James Robertson (A); Trombones - Saunders Sermons, Derrick Jackson, Derrick White, Tom Gibson; Vocals - Dionne Farris, Dashill Smith; and Rhythm Section - Che Marshall (Drums), Tabari Lake (Bass), Phil Davis (Keys), Rod Harris Jr. (Guitar), and Ali Barr (Percussion).
Official Digital Purchase Link