Down Jazz Records was founded by producer David Schwartz and is a boutique label from New York & Detroit. This week the label presents us with a super-heavyweight remix EP entitled ‘Rocket Love’ by a multi storied talent collective with remixes by tons of UK talent including Jimpster, Kaidi Tatham, Sean McCabe and EVM128.
The Detroit Rising collective is comprised of 10 groove masters: Members of Parliament-Funkadelic, Prince, Public Enemy and Mary J Blige. In 2018 their album “A Cosmic Jazz Funk Adventure” was recorded live at the Motown Sound Studios in Detroit and various other studios across America.
Here we speak to main man David Schwartz about the forthcoming release, the illustrious crew, and what millennials think about funk.
Thanks for talking to us. Where are you this moment and how are you spending the day?
Drumming and performing with my Brazilian band Manhattan Samba for a street fair in Queens, New York City.
Where are you based? Is that where you are from originally?
I am from Manhattan, New York City, and I live in Queens, New York, a suburb of New York City. Lots of trees and parks but also a subway.
What was your first musical step?
Since I was a kid taking drum lessons, so a long time. I started seriously in music as a drummer with Brazilian bands around New York. I met a street band by accident one night on October 31st which is a big Halloween festival in the US. I started studying and then was performing soon after joining.
We are about 10-50 drummers performing Carnival Batucada drumming music from Rio De Janeiro and Salvador Brazil. We worked our way up to being the goto Brazilian session musicians in New York for many bands and events including Gogol Bordello, Wyclef Jean, the Neptunes, and many up-and-coming hip-hop artists.
How long have you been producing?
Production about 5 years, so still new at this electronic in the box way of making music. I use Ableton Live and went back to school at night taking classes with a school called DubSpot in NY.
What do you feel has been your most notable production that you’ve been involved in?
“Rocket Love” and “Little Bit of Love” are two funky jazz rock tracks from the album “A Cosmic Jazz Funk Adventure”.
What labels have your releases been out on? What other artists have you worked with over the years?
I release under my own label, DownJazz. I work with a lot of Jazz, Funk, Rock N Roll & Soul musicians from bands including: Parliament Funkadelic, Prince, Mary J Blige, Public Enemy. Currently working with house and electronic artists: Jimpster, Kaidi Tatham, Sean McCabe, EVM128 and more coming.
How long has Down Jazz Records been around?
We started before Covid in 2018. Getting your music out into the world is very difficult and I’m more of a DIY type of person, so I just jumped in and started. My teachers at Dubspot academy are well known house and techno producers, so they gave me a big push to just do it.
Were you running any other labels prior to Down Jazz?
Not at all. I was on the other side of the fence as a musician in New York, but my eyes opened during one recording session with Wyclef Jean for a World Cup commercial for Pepsi. That’s where I met pro level mix and production engineers.
How was the Detroit Rising collective born?
I had a vision to work with the band Parliament Funkadelic which I’ve loved since I was a teenager. I kept meeting band members throughout my life at different music events. I had an idea to mix funk music with electronic and one of the band members told me to go to Detroit, the home of funky musicians.
I started recording in Detroit at the famous United Sound Studios where many hits have been recorded. I met amazing musicians in Detroit and from there, the collective idea was formed.
From the success of those early sessions, the group expanded to include more P-funk musicians from NY to Los Angeles to Florida, Baltimore and Las Vegas and even included Prince singer Sue Ann Carwell.
So, you must have you been friends with a lot of the guys over the years then?
I’ve known most of the musicians for about 7 years, but I did meet a number of P-funk musicians at various gigs and events and festivals over a long period of time including the infamous Woodstock 99 music festival which I was working at.
Who are the members of the full crew – Detroit Rising?
Gabe Gonzalez, P-funk drummer & DJ/producer
Duminie Deporres, Guitarist, Public Enemy
Kern Brantley, Bass, Mary J Blige, Beyonce, Aretha Franklin
Danny Bedrosian, current keyboardist for P-funk
Lige Curry, current bass player with P-funk
Benzel Baltimore, current drummer for P-funk
Greg Thomas, Saxophone, P-funk
Blackbyrd McKnight, guitar, P-funk, Headhunters
Steve Boyd vocals, P-funk, Red Hot Chili Peppers Snoop Dog
Tonysha Nelson, vocals, P-funk
Prince vocalist, Sue Ann Carwell
Richie Beretta, Mix engineer, Beyonce.
Tatsuya Sato, Mastering engineer, Michael Jackson, Kanye West
Such an illustrious cast! Is there someone who leads the affair or is it a democracy?
There is no leader, just cool projects to work on which lead to more cool projects, so I guess a democracy. I give the musicians free rein to create what they want with some guidance from me.
Must be pretty hard to get everyone together in one place. Has that ever happened?
No, these are very busy touring musicians, so I have to follow their schedule and look for pockets of opportunity to make recordings.
Who wrote the tracks on the original 2018 album – A Cosmic Jazz Funk Adventure?
The album is really 4 albums in one with several teams of P-funk musicians creating songs at different sessions, times of year and studios.
All the musicians had a hand in creating the tracks but a special shout out to band leaders, Gabe Gonzalez, Danny Bedrosian and Sue Ann Carwell & Steve Boyd.
So, did you produce the original album?
Yes, I produced the album and was a jack of all trades. Lyrics, song structure, artwork, production, label sales and marketing.
I know that the album was recorded in various studios. Tell us a little about the multi-site recording sessions for the album?
The first session was at United Sound Studios, Detroit. Another session in NY was decided in the middle of the night after P-funk played a gig at the famous BB King club in NY. I only had a few hours until dawn to pull a recording session together the next day as the band had a few hours of down time before their next gig.
More sessions followed in Los Angeles, Baltimore, Las Vegas, and the George Clinton studios in Florida.
The Detroit Rising Remix collection – Where did the initial idea to make this all about UK remixers?
I’ve always loved UK & European artists, DJ’s and producers and have been following them my whole life. From Kruder & Dorfmeister to Bugz in the Attic, their music has sounded fresh and exciting to me.
The original album is full of funk goodness. Sometimes Funk gets a hard time these days. Especially the UK side. Why do you think on that?
Every genre has its time in the Sun. Funk, jazz fusion, soul and Motown were super huge worldwide in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. I grew up in that era, so I guess it’s what I’m drawn too. But everything goes in cycles and comes around again in a different form. Today’s hip hop was formed on the backs and literally sampled from these amazing OG artists.
Maybe younger generations are not into funk as much as we were. What are your thoughts on this?
I see young people buying and listening to great albums from earlier generations. Good music and I mean really incredible musicians from the past, form the backbone of what we hear now in clubs and streaming services. Classic bass lines are present in electronic music along with drum patterns such as the funky drummer. Sampling has brought the actual sound of the past into the present. Young people may not know the names of older artists, but the music lives on in new forms and combinations.
You clearly wanted to go in a more underground direction with the remixes. First up Jimpster. Has he been on your radar for some time?
I’ve been listening to Jimpster for a long time. I just thought he gets the sound I have in my head and his artistic vision across all of his albums has been very deep and wide.
On Jimpster’s remix – what do you feel he has done to the original source material?
The song Rocket Love Dub is my favorite. His rework is haunting, spacey, jazzy, and very soulful.
King of keys, Kaidi Tatham brings the classy vibes on Peace & Harmony. Did you give him any directions, or did he just do his Kaidi thing?
He did his thing, and the results were spectacular. I give small suggestions and he just creates goodness.
How thrilled were you with Kaidi’s delivery on Our World?
The OG is a new discovery to me, but I am just seeking out the vinyl on Discogs.
“Our world” by Danny Bedrosian, is a beautiful song that took many tries and a lot of work to really bring out its full sound. Kaidi picked up on this space love opera.
Other UK master producer Sean McCabe, so what’s the Z Records reference on this track?
I first reached out to Dave Lee at Z records to remix one of the original tracks as I knew he loved the Detroit sound. He chose and worked with Sean McCabe to create the Little Bit remixes which are fantastic!
Track – Gorgeous. Just checked the original on Youtube. I see the artwork is by STOZO. Didn’t he do all of the Parliament – Funkadelic stuff?
Yes, Stozo is an amazing artist who created many cover art masterpieces for Parliament along with James Brown. He was actually a bass player for P-funk as well and had his own persona as the Klown character in P-funk. He also lives near me in New York.
Is it true Gorgeous was recorded in one take? Can you recall the session?
Yes, in fact many of the songs from the album were created in one take as these are master musicians who just play from the heart.
I had the impression that EVM128 had added the rap, but I see it was on the OG. It sounds SO FRESH! Who is the original rapper on the track?
This one is a bit complicated. He is a well-known rap artist and studio musician who prefers not to have his name known. He goes by many aliases. I respect his privacy, but the vocals speak for themselves.
How thrilled were you when EVM128 turned in his interpretation?
He’s really brought that track to London town with broken that flavour.
For such a young and upcoming musician/producer, his production and song writing skills are excellent! The track is very unique and fresh. I’ve been following the CooP Presents and Selectors Assemble for a long time and feel the whole crew is brilliant and has such creativity.
I guess this remix collection is bringing some love again to the album. Any plans on a repress?
I never say never, but I think it’s best to let the albums be. They do live on in digital formats, so there is a lot of renewed interest in the project.
Are there plans for Detroit Rising to come together again or was this cosmic funk affair a onetime only?
The whole project took several years to make and even included a small live tour which was amazing! The Detroit Rising collective keeps evolving, more tours and new material are on the way!
What is next for Down Jazz Records?
On November 10, the Detroit Rising Remix vinyl comes out and then on November 25 there will be a digital version available for streaming on all digital channels.
More dance remixes were made and so we have a lot to bring out over the next few months. Danny Bedrosian, P-funk keyboardist heard on many of the Detroit Rising tracks, has new book on the musical history of Parliament Funkadelic. Coming out this November and we’ll help promote that as well!
There is also another top-secret project in the works that has just started. This will take some time to produce but we may bring a part of it out in time for next summer.
When you’re not in the studio making music, what might we find you doing?
By day I’m a working Optician, helping people to see and get their best new glasses!
buy Detroit Rising – Rocket Love – DOWN JAZZ Records https://www.juno.co.uk/products/detroit-rising-rocket-love-vinyl/971790-01/