Cory Henry and The Funk Apostles take the JAS Cafe Stage at the Cooking School of Aspen on Friday and Saturday, December 28th and 29th with shows at 7pm and 9:15pm. Purchase your tickets here!
Here is a little more about the band:
“The human voice is so powerful,” says Cory Henry. “When I’m singing, it’s like this extra way of connecting and communicating with people beyond what I can do just playing the organ. I’m able to convey these messages that are really important and meaningful to me through my words. Being front and center like this every night, it’s a challenge, but I’m up for it.”
On his latest debut album with The Funk Apostles, ‘Art of Love,’ organ virtuoso Cory Henry demonstrates that he’s more than up for the challenge, moving from sideman to frontman with seemingly effortless grace and cool. Praised by AllMusic as “one of the finest Hammond B-3 organ players of his generation,” Henry also proves himself to be a remarkable singer and songwriter here, one of extraordinary depth and vision. He and the band whip up an intoxicating blend of blues, soul, R&B, Afrobeat, gospel, and jazz on the record, blurring genres and upending expectations at every turn. Simultaneously futuristic and retro, experimental and classic, it’s the sound of one of modern music’s most inventive minds coming fully into his own as a bandleader and storyteller.
A Brooklyn native, Henry may be best known for his role in Snarky Puppy, the instrumental jazz-pop orchestra hailed by Rolling Stone as “one of the more versatile groups on the planet right now.” He’s won a pair of GRAMMY Awards for his work with the band since 2012, but Henry’s deft keyboard skills have been blowing minds around the world for more than two decades now. At six, he made his debut at Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater, and at nineteen, he joined the touring band of jazz icon Kenny Garrett. Since then, he’s toured or recorded with everyone from Bruce Springsteen and The Roots to P. Diddy and Yolanda Adams in addition to cracking the Top 10 on Billboard’s Jazz charts with a pair of solo albums. NPR called him “a master” and said his “musical charisma is a match for a nearly 400 pound organ,” while Keyboard Magazine dubbed his playing “soulful, church-y, playful, restrained, and virtuosic,” and The Boston Globe raved that “if anyone’s going to preach the gospel of the Hammond organ, it should be Cory Henry.”
Henry pieced together The Funk Apostles’ lineup out of players he met on the road over the years, and each member of the band is an all-star in their own right. Guitarist Adam Agati, who co-wrote the album’s lyrics with Henry, has worked with everyone from Booker T. Jones to Ludacris, while bassist Sharay Reed has performed with Patti LaBelle, Aretha Franklin, Chakha Khan, and more. Henry met drummer TaRon Lockett while he was playing with Snarky Puppy, but he’s performed with some of the biggest names in R&B including Erykah Badu and Montell Jordan, and keyboardist Nick Semrad’s credits include Miss Lauryn Hill, Bilal, and Gabriel Garzon-Montano.
Recorded in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, ‘Art Of Love’ was tracked live to tape in an effort both to capture the inimitable energy of the band’s live shows and to channel the warm analog vibes of the 1970’s. While Henry may be renowned for his gifts as an improviser, the album serves as a showcase for his skills as a songwriter and producer, rich with intricate arrangements and memorable hooks. That’s not to say it’s without spontaneity, though. The band worked with minimal rehearsal (Henry estimates they’ve had three in the two years since the band started playing together), and several tracks are actually first-take recordings.
“I want to make music that really means something,” he explains. “I think of the 60’s and 70’s as this golden era of music, and if you look at some of the top artists then like Curtis Mayfield and Stevie Wonder, they were singing about what was happening around them in this creative way that made people want to act. They used music as a tool to reach the world and bring about change to help make it a better place. I want to do that, too.”
It’s an ambitious goal, to be sure, but if there’s one thing this album proves, it’s that Cory Henry is up for the challenge.
See Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles get down at NPR’s Tiny Desk here: