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Kool & the Gang w/ Harvey Scales and the Seven Sounds

Friday, July 4 @ BMO Harris Pavilion, 8 p.m.

Jun. 16, 2014
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Nothing moves a crowd as quickly as a solid funk beat, music that deemphasizes melody and harmony and brings the rhythm groove of bass and drums to the forefront. No practitioner has met with quite as much success as Kool and the Gang, the Jersey City, N.J., ambassadors of classic funk.

Started in 1964 as the Jazziacs by Robert “Kool” Bell and his brother Ronald, whose father was friends with jazz great Thelonious Monk, the group quickly began mixing its jazz with soul and rhythm and blues to develop a potent funk mixture. In 1967 they became Kool and the Flames, quickly abandoning the name to avoid confusion with The Famous Flames, James Brown’s backup band. In 1969, they signed their first recording deal with De-Lite Records as Kool and the Gang.

Along with drummer George Brown, alto saxophonist Dennis Thomas and others, the band recorded a string of hits, including “Open Sesame,” picked up for the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, and “Jungle Boogie,” used in the film Pulp Fiction. There’s a good chance their biggest hit, “Celebration,” is played at some public event somewhere in the world every day of the year.

The Bells, Brown and Thomas are still with the band, bringing their distinctive brand of funk to fans old and new.


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