Known to many for his often-sublime keyboard work with Snarky Puppy, Cory Henry is now branching out with a project of his own, The Funk Apostles. Their gig at the Jazz Café on Monday as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival heralded a powerful, slick and raucous new brand of funk.
Henry and the Apostles embarked upon an odyssey of groove, with the beats of their two drummers, TaRon Lockett and Darius Owens, and the colossal sounds of Antoine Katz (bass) and Nick Semrad (Prophet synth) barely contained within the walls of the venue. In a vivid reconstruction of Juan Tizol’s ‘Caravan’, the Apostles never made it as far as the B section, but stuck with a menacing ultramodern take on the classic, given extra vim by Andrew Bailie’s towering guitar solo.
The set hinged on Prince’s ‘1999’, which received a futuristic funk refurbishment. Henry intoned the apocalyptic party lyrics through a vocoder evoking ‘Sunlight’ era Herbie Hancock, and there were shades of Parliament-Funkadelic; however, the overall effect was much more contemporary. Not so much a group of apostles, Henry and his band felt like a collective of funk-crazed soothsayers, who had journeyed to the Jazz Cafe so that they might impart the future of groove to Camden.
Later in the night there was a beautiful reinterpretation of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Inner City Blues’, Henry repeating an enthralling keyboard hook, and Lockett and Owens zoning in as if they were one player. Throughout, myriad musical influences were stirred up to create something entirely new: not bad for a group just 11 months old, with a debut album recorded in August ready for release. Cory Henry and The Funk Apostles can give us all something to believe in.
– Jon Carvell