New Release Rack: The Ill Funk Ensemble
The Ill Funk Ensemble is gearing up for the official release of their sophomore album, “The Duality.” The follow-up to their debut “Catching Wreck” is scheduled to drop on Friday (August 24), and the band will be celebrating with a CD release party at the Icehouse in Saratoga Springs at 9pm on Friday, which just happens to be Travers Eve.
But you don’t have to wait til Friday to soak up the sounds of “The Duality.” The album is currently available for pre-release streaming here. With versatile vocalist-freestyler Jermaine Wells leading the way, the new, 12-track album is a sizzling blend of old-school funk, neo-soul and hip-hop. Their genre-fusing, pop culture-populated style is highlighted by “Beatin’ the Heat” (which deftly employs a sample of Quincy Jones’ theme from the old Redd Foxx sit-com, “Sanford & Son,” otherwise known as “The Streetbeater”) and “She’s Fearless (Reprise)” (which offers a tip of the hat to Sarah Connor of “Terminator” fame).
In addition to Friday’s celebration, you can also catch the Ill Funk Ensemble in action at the Sport Island Pub in Northville at 9pm on Saturday (August 25), and you can bet that the party will still be kickin’…
The Ill Funk Ensemble- “The Duality”
Walking on sticky floors, stepping on to a stage that’s too small for their swagger, let alone their equipment, setting up under dim lights and dropping a sound check on an unsuspecting audience. Eyes look up, jaws drop and the phones come out, inevitably texting their friends to come check out this band, this Ill Funk Ensemble.
That scene has played out weekly for the Albany-based band, The Ill Funk Ensemble, since 2006 to great results. Described by reviewers as “a kind of 21st century mash-up of Kool & the Gang and the Isley Brothers” and “all hot sand and asphalt”, Ill Funk Ensemble takes hip-hop and R&B in a different, yet oddly familiar direction. Perhaps it’s the blend of old and new school vibes, the warm smile of Jermaine Wells, the lead singer, or the obvious fun the band has whether they’re recording or performing live; whatever it is, the band has made the most of its position by performing all over the Northeast, selling nearly 1,000 hard copies of their debut album, Catching Wreck, having more than 1,300 combined likes on their Facebook pages and over 15,000 views on their YouTube channel. They’ve even been blessed to perform live with Grammy-winner Mr. Cheeks of the Lost Boyz, Naughty by Nature and Young MC and placed forth in a national competition to perform at Royal Family Affair with Soulive in 2011. They have also had a placement on the show “Road Trip Nation” and honorable mention in the John Lennon song-writing competition.
Interview with The Ill Funk Ensemble
Officially the Hottest
By AKASH SHARMA
OTH: Please introduce yourselves to our readers. Who are The Ill Funk Ensemble ?
ILL: The Ill Funk Ensemble is a live hip-hop/R&B/soul outfit out of New York- Jermaine Wells: lead vocals and freestyle, BJ FitzGerald: guitar and vocals, Duane Etienne: bass and backing vocals, Joe Stoner: keyboards and backing vocals, Dennis Brooks: drums. Continue reading
Interview with The Ill Funk Ensemble
By Rafael Jóvine
Who’s The Ill Funk Ensemble? How did all this got started?
About seven years ago, the band’s guitarist, BJ FitzGerald, had a dream to put together a band that would reside in a niche that was sorely lacking in the local New York scene: live hip-hop and R&B. It needed to be authentic, so the crew that he put together needed to be legit musicians as well as easy going, professional guys so that the gigs would be easy to come by. The band that came together has over 80 years combined performance experience; Jermaine Wells, a native of the Bronx, handles the lead vocals and freestyle duties, BJ FitzGerald adds a bluesy, funk quality with his guitar and handles some lead vocals as well, Duane Etienne, a monster on the bass with a bass voice to match, Joe Stoner brings it on the keyboards and backing vocals and Dennis Brooks is the solid spine of the band with the tightest beats in the state of New York. Continue reading