MIKE ZABRIN: Funktastic (Funktastic Prods)

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Mike Zabrin is an aspiring bass player who hails from Skokie, Illinois. The 22 year old is currently a member of the Joe Moss Band (a hard gigging blues outfit). He’s also worked with soul and blues legends Buddy Guy and William Bell, and shared the stage with smooth jazzer, Brian Culbertson. In between Mike’s managed to record his debut album and for a set that’s headlined by a bass player the music programme is varied and intriguing – though never straying too far from the “funk” in its titling.

The cut that’s currently grabbing all the attention is a wonderful confection called ‘The Other Side’. The tune mixes the flavours of nu/neo soul with the attributes of that odd soul genre, “modern” soul, which though contemporary is totally retro. Into that odd cocktail you can throw a brilliant brass section and a great trombone solo from Kool and the Gang’s Clifford Adams. The cherry on all this is great and soulful vocal from Kendra Foster who, of course, has worked with the Parliament/Funkadelic axis as well as being one of D’angelo’s team. And to allude to an earlier point, allowing his vocalists plenty of expressive space is what makes Zabrin’s album so different and varied to other bass players’ albums.

‘Funktastic’s’ other vocals include ‘(You Are) Extraordinary’ (which mixes rap and vocals), ‘Life’ (a chugging old school soul beater with vocal from Anthony Pavel) and ‘Funkin’ With You’ (which is actually a loose and jazzy workout with sparse vocal from Kelsey Madsen and great organ work from John Christy).

Given the headliner’s instrument though you’d also expect the odd track on which he’s allowed to show his virtuosity. So, ‘Make Ya Body Move’ features the fastest poppin’ bass you’ll have heard in a long while on ‘Fact Fiction’ Mike’s Warwick bass guitar battles throughout with Fishbone singer Norwood Fisher’s vocal. Add to all that a bluesy ballad, ‘Cat And Mouse’ and a closing instrumental jam, ‘What’s The Deal’ and you have a roller coaster ride of flavours all underpinned by Mike Zabrin’s solid and steady bass playing. Find out more @ www.mikezabrinmusic.com

(BB) 3/5