Breakestra (9:30 pm) with Cibelle (8 pm) performing as part of the Hot & Spicy Food Festival at Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West), Friday (July 30). Free. 416-973-4000.
As their name suggests, Breakestra was assembled by Miles Tackett to perform the source music sampled for hiphop joints. But while the strangely familiar-sounding breakdowns created by artists like the Meters, Bob James, Groove Holmes and Idris Muhammad remain the basis of Breakestra's roof-raising shows, the 10-piece L.A. jazz-funk repertory ensemble has been getting more creative in the studio lately. In fact, Breakestra's forthcoming album for Ubiquity, due in early 2005, is slated to feature entirely original material, along with various guest MCs and vocalists. And after hearing the inspired rocksteady overhaul of the Johnny Cash classic Ring Of Fire, which Tackett released under his solo alias, This Kid Named Miles, a few months back, there's no telling what it might sound like.
"I've been just trying a lot of different sounds and rhythms," says Tackett from Los Angeles. "I guess it was the lyrics of Ring Of Fire that made me hear it as something that could be sung by a Jamaican crooner. The rocksteady thing just worked, so it was like, -Hey, let's put this out.'
"Likewise with the new Breakestra album, it's gonna be whatever comes out of the process of trying to create some original music. It could end up that there are no hard funk tracks on the new album at all. We'll see."
Judging by an advance clip of the downtempo first track, Recognize, the album could be moving in an R&B or rare groove direction. That's not entirely shocking given the material Breakestra covers. More surprising is the stunningly soulful vocal performance by Tackett, who seems to have been wasting his time playing bass in Breakestra.
"Actually, I've been singing in bands since I was 12 years old," Tackett offers breezily. "I think that's the track we're going to use for this compilation coming out in Japan next month.
"I was a little trepidatious about applying the Breakestra name to it, because it's actually not that far removed from the stuff I do on the side with my own group (the Miles Tackett Trio). But I wrote the song in the context of the new Breakestra album, so I guess that's how it's gonna stay."
For their show at Harbourfront Centre Friday (July 30), Tackett says Breakestra will stick to the funky breaks repertoire that made them semi-famous among trainspotting hiphop headz and deep funk collectors.
"I still like the funk and rare groove concept of our performances. It's fun stuff to play, and I like making people feel good whether they recognize what we're playing from the hiphop songs they know or not."
Good vibes aside, Tackett still makes a point of giving credit where it's due.
"Our audience is largely made up of hiphop kids who are just finding out that the soul and jazz music of the 60s and 70s is the source of a lot of their favourite music," he explains.
"We always let people know that we're playing covers and name the names. It's important to give respect to the original artists who created this great music."