Full Circle Song Reviews

 

In My Heart

Overall Impression: 

Lavished with a tremendous sense of style and flair, "In My Heart" is a fantastic fusion of jazz, funk, and soul styles that contains both great melodic maturity and a great amount of groove. Funktastic Players offers up a tasty blend of smooth jazzy flourishes and brilliant funk-laden rhythms that instantly gets the listener's foot-tapping and whole body swaying. "In My Heart" is a brilliantly laid-back listening experience that both soothes and excites. 

Strongest Point(s): 

Jazz and funk have always been styles that mesh together extremely well, and yet striking the perfect balance between the two takes a certain amount of skill to be able to successfully pull off, Funktastic Players makes it look easy. "In My Heart" feels wholly authentic and graceful in its execution, melodic lines flow effortlessly whilst the intricate performances feel both tremendously accomplished and delicate in their approach. Whether it'd be the funky chord work, velvety smooth brass, or the strong rhythmic drive provided by the excellent bass and drum work, every element of "In My Heart" feels just right and is handled with great delicacy. 

Addtional Thoughts: 

I think this is a strong laid-back track and if you are a fellow musician and performer, it makes you want to pick up the nearest instrument and jam away, which is exactly what I found myself doing, so Funktastic Players is certainly doing something very right indeed! I think this is a tune that works well as it is and I don't believe any tweaking is required. 

Target Audience Appeal: 

This is certainly a tune for smooth jazz-funk lovers. 

Artist target suggestions: 

Fostina Dixon, Al Turner, Q-Factor, Kirk Whalum, Groove Collective, Snarky Puppy, The Brand New Heavies, James Taylor Quartet, Down To The Bone 

 

Come My Way

Overall Impression:

 "Come My Way" is a wonderful bit of light jazz, from the veteran Maryland based band, Funktastic Players. Included on their 2021 full length release Full Circle, this song features a bouncy r&b style groove filled out by sensual synths, airy guitar and a deep, warm bass that provides an ideal foundation for the band's exceptional horn section.  Saxophone and trumpet soloists take center stage here, displaying an efficient and tasteful skill set that give this tune the space required to really breathe and flow. Slick, modern production and an elegant atmosphere make "Come My Way" the perfect choice for any date night playlist, or for anyone just looking to elevate the mood of their evening. Smooth jazz fans in particular shouldn't hesitate to check out this track, as well as the rest of Funktastic Players' extensive catalog, available to stream or purchase on all major platforms. 

Strongest Point(s):  

Outstanding production, excellent mix. Great tonal balance. Drum mix sounds fantastic; nice punch to the kick and the cymbals and snares cut right through the high end. Bass guitar has gorgeous tone and incredible buoyancy to the line. The synths, guitar and background horns all sit well in the mix, having good clarity without overpowering the soloists. The solos all display exquisitely graceful musicianship, pleasantly stylish and restrained. Very pleasing arrangement; it's an engaging harmonic progression, the stop time turnarounds provide excellent punctuation, and the tune has a nice, subtle dynamic build that's achieved through thoughtful instrumental staging. All in all, it's a great song and a phenomenal finished track. Terrific job on this one, exceptional work by everyone involved! 

Target Audience Appeal:

 Fans of Jazz, Smooth Jazz, Jazz Fusion, Easy Listening, Instrumental RnB, Contemporary Jazz 

Artist target suggestions:

 Fourplay, Spyro Gyra, Brian Culbertson, Grover Washington Jr., Chris Botti, Dave Koz, Kenny G, Pieces of a Dream, Marcus Miller, Walter Beasley, Steven Cole, Wayman Tisdale, Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, The Rippingtons, Chuck Mangione, Kim Waters, Tom Scott

 

Summer Winds

 Overall Impression: 

Having reviewed the equally groovy "In My Heart" by jazz-funk wizards, Funktastic Players, I came into "Summer Winds" expecting another fantastic slice of ultra-smooth jazz-funk fusion, and thankfully this is exactly what I got. "Summer Winds" boasts both that Funktastic flair and undeniably "hip" sound that has become synonymous with the group, and as to be expected, the track is filled with both nuanced performances and a clear eye for melody. 

Strongest Point(s): 

Beginning with a strong and scene-setting drum beat before quickly introducing that instantly recognizable funk-rhythm guitar sound, no time is wasted in setting the groove of the track and establishing the overall feel of the song, and by the time the lead sax enters, listeners are fully enveloped in the undeniably cool-sounding world that Funktastic Players so effortlessly create. There are some fantastic harmonic twists and turns throughout and passing chords are used to great effect to help with some of the songs more challenging harmonic shifts in the chord progression, helping to further heighten the impact of certain transitions in the arrangement as well add some striking tonal color in the right places. Speaking of tonal color, the continually interesting harmonic nature of the track provides ample opportunity for interesting melodic line creation, and it's safe to say that the sax takes full advantage of this and whisks up some truly super lines that flow beautifully and are expressed with great grace. I also want to point out the modulation at 1:29, not only is this handled very well, but the key shift adds a nice bit of unexpectedness to the track, helping to both keep listeners continually intrigued as well add a nice touch of contrast to the song. 

Target Audience Appeal: 

This is an exemplary jazz-funk piece and fans of this style will surely appreciate what "Summer Winds" has to offer. 

Artist target suggestions: 

Fostina Dixon, Al Turner, Q-Factor, Kirk Whalum, Groove Collective, Snarky Puppy, The Brand New Heavies, James Taylor Quartet, Down To The Bone

Daydreaming

Overall Impression:  

The Funktastic Players' jazzy song "Daydreaming" wholeheartedly lives up to its' name. From the first melody, you feel as if you are consciously floating through a dream and can't help to sway at least a little bit. The saxophone adds an element of smokiness while the drums keep a consistent beat throughout. There are parts of the song (especially around 3:20) where the Funktastic Players take the listener on a mysterious journey, leading the audience wondering what is going to come next, and then it finishes strongly. 

Strongest Point(s):  

Daydreaming is extremely smooth from start to finish and each instrument compliments one another well. The Funktastic Players' talents shine brightly from start to finish. 

Other areas of interest: 

 With the slight sound of vocals counting out the beat in the background, I was waiting for a Funktastic Player to start singing. It would be interesting to hear this with a few lyrics (although not necessary), or no vocals at all. 

Target Audience Appeal:  

Daydreaming can be perfectly paired with any dinner, midday work session, or just winding down and hanging out. For anyone looking for a relaxing track to soulfully enhance any situation, this one is for you.   

Artist target suggestions:

Boney James, Gerald Albright, Brian Culbertson