If you crave the sound of a live band creating a solid groove – and you know you should – then Funk Is The Final Frontier will grab you right from the first track...

Impression Records

12 tracks / 55:19


Singer/guitarist/front-man Leroy Emmanuel has earned his pedigree in funk and R&B in a decades-long career reaching back to the glory days of Motown. The veteran funkmeister met up with an ideal rhythm section in 1989 when he formed LMT Connection with Mark Rogers on drums and John Irvine on bass. Cut to 2016, with the soul trio in New York City’s Avatar Studios, joined by the astounding Chops Horns (featuring Dave Watson on Baritone and tenor sax and flute, and Darryl Dixon on alto sax) and Newworldson’s ‘Soul’ Joel Parisien on keyboards and vocals. The result can be heard on this almost hour-long feast of funk and soul.

If you crave the sound of a live band creating a solid groove – and you know you should – then Funk Is The Final Frontier will grab you right from the first assault of Rogers’ solid drum beat on the title-track that starts the project off. Emmanuel’s chunky rhythm work and street-wise vocals are propelled by Irvine’s in-the-pocket bass notes. The mix really percolates as The Chops provide blasts of precision horn work while Parisien’s Hammond takes the whole thing to funky-church.

After a couple of tracks oozing with some nasty funk, The LMT Connection slow the groove down a bit with Emmanuel’s tribute to Curtis Mayfield on the appropriately-titled “Curtis.” The band goes more Latin-flavored with “Your Body’s Hot,” which features some fine scat singing and lead guitar work from Emmanuel, some hot flute from Watson, and a little space for Rogers to lay down some beats.

“The Love I Once Knew” offers some Motown pop sounds that feature fine radio-ready vocals from Emmanuel, bubbling bass from Irvine and mighty blasts from the power-house Chops. Gotta’ love the last moments of the song where Emmanuel, Rogers, Irvine and The Chops get in some really fine solo spots. “Trapped in The Funk” is a cool, jazzy jam with some tasty licks from Dixon and Watson. Parisien’s Hammond makes a fine return in “Expedition,” a largely instrumental track with self-aware lyrics and a whole lot of groove.

A fine instrumental treat, “Jan Jan” could make Booker T jealous. Every member of the band is highlighted and contributes acres of jazzy funk and soul - instrumental soul-jams simply don’t get any better than this. The four remaining songs are: a perfectly executed Motown-like groove that could have easily been a radio hit back in the day (“Love And Things”); a genuine blues (“Blues Ain’t Nothin’ to Play With”), a tasty up-tempo instrumental (“Big Bad”); and a ‘bonus track’ (“York Chops”) with screamin’ hot horn parts, tasty guitar licks, driving bass, rock-steady drums and some of that super-tasty ‘Soul’ Joel organ work.

There’s an accompanying DVD with a short documentary on the making of the album and a video track for “Curtis.” Some of the album’s lyrics, by the way, lean toward PG-14.

Hey – old-school funk and soul. How can you go wrong?

Bert Saraco