Three Jedi’s Join the Funk: Vince Montana Jr, Richie Havens, Cordell “Boogie” Mosson

We lost three more true funk soldiers in the past couple of weeks, but with the visceral contributions of music they left behind for us to enjoy, their prescence will surely continue to be felt. Vince Montana Jr was a vibraphonist who started in jazz music in the Philadelphia area and became a first call vibraphonist for the Philadelphia soul artists. He worked on projects by Thom Bell as well as Gamble & Huff and was an integral memeber of MFSB. In fact, he was so integral, he was able to take most of the group over to Salsoul records and record great disco hits there. The Salsoul sound was very influential in disco, house and garage and continues to be the epitome of many people for good ’70s disco to this day. Vince was very interesting as an Italian-American making funky music with Black and Latino players and is a great example of how music unites. Here’s a great interview conducted with Montana before he passed, courtesy of Waxpoetics

Richie Havens is another one of those 20th century black artists who had a highly unique position in American popular music. I remember coming across Richie Havens albums like “1984” in my family collection and being curious as to how the music sounded. The images were pshychedelic and very interesting, and the music surprised me. Havens was a part of the 1960s folk explosion, and in several songs that he did, he emphasized that black music in America was part of the “folk” music mix as well. This is illustrated greatly in his classic song “Freedom”, which interpolates the great old Negro Spiritual, “Sometimes I feel like A Motherless Child.” Havens was able to be very successful with the rock and folk crowd, opening 1969’s legendary Woodstock concert. His passing is poignant for me because I was looking up his songs just last week, after the Blu Ray of “Django Unchained” came out and I heard his feirce, on beat rhythm guitar strumming on “Freedom”, featured in the scene where Django is captured and taken away from Candieland. Havens music should be appreciated for taking a slightly different path, and he should be considered a father to many artists today, especially black artists who are able to affirm their musical roots while not following the styles that are currently popular. It was also last week I heard for the first time, he made a version of one of my favorite songs from the disco era, Lamont Dozier’s “Going Back to My Roots”, popularized by Oddessy, one thing that is interesting to me is how the aggressive, on top of the beat African oriented piano part sounds just like the type of rhythms Havens strummed on his guitar:

Cordell “Boogie” Mosson is highly underrated, but very essential in the history of Parliament/Funkadelic bassists. He was very long tenured in the band, from 1972 to 1978 on bass, and then sliding over for a long tenure from 1979 until very recently on guitar. George Clinton said of him, “Boogie’s bass style lies somewhere between Billy Nelson’s raw Funkadelic groove and Bootsy Collin’s Parliament funk, which made him the perfect guy to play all the material live, or on either bands’ recordings.” Billy played bass on P Funk classics such as “Testify”, “Handcuffs”, “Cosmic Slop”, and “Nappy Dugout.” He also handled the majority of bass duties on live dates until Rodney “Skeet” Curtis joined the band. Boogie was distinguished on stage by his antler like head gear he wore with huge bug eyes. I really dig this quote from him, taken from Bass Player magazine, July 2005 issue featuring “The Bassists of P Funk”

“Dig a deep hole and throw me down there with my amp and my bass-leave the cord plugged in, because I’ve got to have a connection-and you’ll hear from me. I ain’t bullshitting. You’ll hear from me.”

Vince Montana’s Salsoul Hustle

Cordell “Boogie” Mosson and one of the stankiest basslines of all time


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One response to “Three Jedi’s Join the Funk: Vince Montana Jr, Richie Havens, Cordell “Boogie” Mosson

  1. Gabi

    Havens was always brave enough in expanding the public perception of what is a Folk singer and Folk music, in general. It is no coincidence that his most memorable moments were interpreting other hit songs, from The Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun” to Springsteen’s “Streets of Philadelphia”.

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