Kool & the Gang w/ Harvey Scales and the Seven Sounds
Friday, July 4 @ BMO Harris Pavilion, 8 p.m.
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.
Bells, Brown and Thomas are still with the band, bringing their distinctive
brand of funk to fans old and new.