Afrocentric Theatre, Music, Culture and Business

PROM 64: The Breaks (Music Review) PROM 64: The Breaks (Music Review)
PROM 64: The Breaks (Music Review)

Breakbeat is a broad style of electronic or dance-oriented music which utilises breaks, or the percussive sections from earlier funk, jazz and RnB records. Clive Campbell or DJ Kool Herc is often credited as the originator of the technique, He was the first to get two copies of the same record and mix between the same break thereby prolonging the tune. This also allowed the burgeoning B-Boys street dancers or ‘breakers’ more opportunity to display their skills.


In a celebration of the original tunes that laid the foundation of breakbeat, co-curators Jules Buckley and Chris Wheeler reimagine those iconic tracks originally played by legendary DJs like Kool Herc, Grand Master Flash and the like.


Grammy award Jules Buckley conducted The Heritage Orchestra along with a stellar cast of special guests in an exhilarating, 90-minute non-stop musical exploration of the culture-defining music that inspired musicians, producers, and equipment manufacturers.


The show kicked off with ‘Apache ‘by the Incredible Bongo band, Albert Hall was suddenly without notice bathed in a blaze of string from the Heritage Orchestra, the horns, delicious bongos, the funky synth and sax solo from the Ghost Note band.


Without pausing for breathe the orchestra launched into ‘It’s Just Begun’ by the Jimmy Castor Band. This was followed in the same vein by a medley of famous break tunes.


Driving the funk forward was the relentless drumming of Snarky Puppy’s multi-Grammy award-winning percussionists Robert ‘Sput’ Spearlight and Nate Werth. How they managed to keep up the tempo for ninety minutes was anybody’s guess.


The dropping of ‘North Carolina’ by the Poets of Rhythm was the cue for the Soul Mavericks, five times UK B-Boy champions to take to the dancefloor to wow the crowd with an incredible display of break dancing skills as well as for Mr. Switch to show off his scratching skills demonstrating why he’s a four-time World DJ champion.


The group now features three generations of crew members as towards the end, young B-Girl Terra and Eddie showed us examples their creative routineds which included some rather unnerving head spins.


The night continued with the same unrelenting driving funk with searing sax, trombone, and flute solos interspersing this stunningly collection of vintage tunes. It was quite clear that the curators of the show had given great thought to their selection.


Musical highlights included a scorching sax solo on ‘Get On the Good Foot’ by James Brown, some exceptional flute, sax and scratching work on ‘Ashley’s Roadclip’ by The Soul Searchers and Zapp’s ‘Moe Bounce to the Ounce’.


Also noteworthy was British singer Alice Russell’s first-rate soul laden renditions of the classic ‘Rock Steady’ by Aretha Franklin and club favourite ‘All Over Now’.


Back came the B-Boys and Girls, for another mind blowing display of breaking, locking and popping to the tune ‘Night of the Wolf’, which was without the song of the night. Mr Switch couldn’t resist once again displaying his dexterity on the decks with some fast handed mixing and scratching.


‘Disco Connection’ allowed the string section to take centre stage with some delightful playing, reminiscent of the great Van McCoy and his Soul Symphony orchestra.


When Madcon landed on stage for the anthemic ‘Beggin’ the crowd was by now delirious. Up on their feet, singing at the top of the voices, dancing without a care in their seats, aisles, and stalls it was a fitting finale to a unique musical experience


It was definitely a night like no other. The Heritage Orchestra was on top form, along with the energetic and incredible Ghost-Note, the sweet vocals of Vula Malinga and Brendan Reilly, the birth of the tunes that made hip-hop were truly celebrated.


Prom 64: The Breaks, 6 Sept, Royal Albert Hall, SW7 2AP

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