Breakestra - Hit The Floor (LP)
Released on Stones Throw in 2001 The Live Mix part 2 put the Los Angeles-based live funk band Breakestra on the map. In 2005, their new album Hit the Floor (Ubiquity Records), a new single featuring members of Jurassic 5 and People Under The Stairs, and recent performances with GZA, Guru, Raekwon, Digable Planets and De La Soul (at New York’s Summer Stage) will launch the band further into the public eye. While their debut album and legendary live shows predominantly paid homage to old school breaks n’ beats gone by, Hit the Floor goes a step further as Breakestra create an album featuring all-original compositions and songs. The funk flavor is as strong as ever and Breakestra’s main man Miles Tackett explains the transformation from a cover band into one flaunting their own material as the obvious next step, “While hip hop dj/medley inspired covers are the foundation of Breakestra, it is only natural we’d want to express our own soulful proclamations,” he says. “I've been releasing original funk cuts before putting out The Live Mix Part 2. The first Breakestra single was an original song called "Getcho Soul Togetha", so this album is really just a part of the natural flow,” he adds.
Four years is a long time to wait for a second album, but judging by the size and enthusiasm of crowds at Breakestra shows or at their weekly hosted Rootdown party in LA their fan base continues to grow. And the global funk scene, which Breakestra are thoroughly entrenched in, now includes a distinguished list of bands like The Bamboos in Australia, The Dapkings in NYC, the New Master Sounds, Speedometer and Quantic Soul Orchestra in England and seems to be growing stronger by the day. “I don't think this music is going to be here today but gone tomorrow,” Tackett enthuses, “it's the best it’s been in years.”
Explaining the time lag between debut and sophomore albums Tackett says, “I have a slight tendency to be a perfectionist, so creating all original material was a little more difficult than I thought.” He adds “It’s an intimidating thought for me that the music that inspired Breakestra had set such a high musical bar.”
To help kick-start recording Tackett opened a heavily soundproofed Funky Tilt recording studio last year. Setting it up from scratch with Tackett paying as close attention to musical detail as he does any of his recordings meant the public would have to wait a little longer to hear Hit the Floor, but eventually this space allowed for late night writing and recording sessions. During this time Tackett and co perfected a blend of rough n’ready sounds that is matched by great songwriting. From the call-out party vibe of the break driven intro’ track “Stand Up” to the catchy blues-tinged “Hiding” and “Recognize”, to the ‘60’s vibe of the title track, Hit the Floor is a varied and accomplished second outing built on the foundation of a great debut and countless live dates.
A rotating cast of players make up the Breakestra line-up, but collaborating with Tackett (who sings and plays bass, guitar, drums and keys) and right hand man Mixmaster Wolf (singing and soulful shouting!) on this album are Pete McNeil (drums), James “The Penguin” King (saxes and flute), Shawn Oshea (drums), Pat Bailey (guitar), Chuck Prada (percussion), Marshall Thompson (keys and organ), Dan Hastie (keys and organ), Devin Williams (trumpet), Todd Simon (trumpet), and Mike Bolger (trumpet). Plus there are guest appearances from Charli2na and Soup (of Jurassic 5) and Double K (of People Under The Stairs), plus Mixmaster Wolfs percussion-playing father Munyongo Jackson on an old school posse cut in the spirit of the live-band old school rap jams called “Family Rap”.
In addition to making a new album and building a studio Tackett hosts the weekly 8 yr old Rootdown party in LA where Breakestra perform regularly to capacity crowds along side hip hop luminaries such as Jurassic 5, Dilated Peoples, Black Eyed Peas, Freestyle Fellowship, Company Flow, Cut Chemist, Nu-Mark and DJ Shadow.
Tackett grew up on a steady diet of music by father his Freddie Tackett of Little Feat. These home-schooled sounds were mixed with a diet of Steely Dan and music from New Orleans. “My Dad played with a New Orleans band in the 70's and 80's and did a few Neville Brothers/Meters things which were my first introduction to straight funky music. In fact I met Leo Nocentelli hanging out at one of their local gigs when I was a young teenager though I had no idea who he was until many years later.” Singing since he was only 8 years old Tackett Jr. made his first appearance in a prog/classic rock band at the tender age of 13. In addition to his current role as Breakestra leader Tackett has numerous productions as This Kid Named Miles. He has produced T-Love's acclaimed "Return of the B-girl" EP, and supplied tracks for Cut Chemist, Rakka of Dilated Peoples, and contributed songs to Macy Gray's debut LP.