Ron Levy-Karl Denson -Melvin Sparks | VooDoo Boogaloo

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Karl Denson Melvin Sparks Ron Levy

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United States - Louisiana

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Jazz: Hammond Organ Blues: Jazzy Blues Moods: Mood: Upbeat
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VooDoo Boogaloo

by Ron Levy-Karl Denson -Melvin Sparks

Hammond B-3 funky jazz....."it's unlikely that there'll be another jazz record this year that's plainly this much fun" AAJ
Genre: Jazz: Hammond Organ
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Organ Colossus
4:52 $0.99
2. VooDoo Boogaloo
9:39 $0.99
3. Love Retoined
4:49 $0.99
4. Better Save Yo'Seff
6:37 $0.99
5. Spy On The Fly
4:02 $0.99
6. Spank!
6:25 $0.99
7. Wes Side West
6:47 $0.99
8. Memphis Memries
8:34 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"VooDoo Boogaloo is AMAZING! Every track is a home run. The grooves, the production, the playing - friggin' stupendous. I'll be using every song on the album in The Groove Boutique. Mucho kudos on an astoundingly slammin' achievement!!!"
- Rafe Gomez -, NYC's #1 Sat night radio show, WQCD 101.9

Named #5 of Chuck Ingersol's Top 10 Soul Jazz Cds of 2005

"Ron Levy's Wild Kingdom - VOODOO BOOGALOO: I'm thinkin' this must be funk & groove month... we've already gotten quite a few CD's reviewed that feature really upbeat funk-based music... & this h'yar "Boogaloo" won't let you down. Ron's a multi-instrumentalist beyond th' normal reach of that word... he jus' KICKZ on th' opener, "Organ Colossus", with some superb B-3... then he pulls out some vibes on th' title track & makes us think we're back in th' late '60's with Cal Tjader. For ol' jazz/phunsters like me, it doesn't GET any better than this. Th' whole album will lift yer' spirits to new highs, & th' group (far too large to catalog here) definitely lives up to th' "Wild Kingdom" image! There are some heavy Latin rhythms in addition to th' more recognizable funk pieces, & that Latino sound is totally authentic & energetic. Whether you're a "party animal" who just needs somethin' to "shake it" to, or a serious connoisseur of jazz with intestinal fortitude, you won't be able to do without this fantastic album. The organ sounds (alone) are worth the purchase price! This one gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us for listeners of all persuasions, though particularly for those enthralled with "down-home" funk that just won't quit!"
- Dick Metcalf, aka Rotcod Zzaj
Prime perpetrator & Incipient Instigator
Zzaj Productions & Improvijazzation Nation

"Some very hip funk here! Levy's best since 'Zim Zam Zoom'"
- Bob Porter, WBGO-FM, writer, Supervisor of many 70's soul jazz classics on Prestige records.

"RLWK's last Cd, "After Midnight Grooves" was a slow satiny smooth burn for dancin' and romancin'. "Voodoo Boogaloo" is a full-throttle party throw-down, as Melvin Sparks, Karl Denson, Levy and the rest rock the house, hip, hard and funky. "After Midnight Grooves" made it onto my "Top Ten Recordings of 2004" list. I'm pleased to report that "Voodoo Boogaloo" sounds even better.
- Chris M. Slawecki, Senior music editor,

"The bass pulses, the drums groove, the organ throbs, and the guitar, sax and flute weave in and out hypnotically. You absolutely can not listen to 'Voodoo Boogaloo' without shaking some part of your body. RLWK serves up a masterpiece!"
- Ken Raisanen, WOAS-FM

"Great stuff, as always!" - Chris Johnson HGMN

"Great work from a player who just keeps on getting better and better! We've really liked organist Ron Levy's recent recordings a lot -- but somehow, this one really tops the bunch -- and comes across with a lean, mean, and focused sound that's soulfully groove-heavy all the way through! There's a style here that's a bit like that of Johnny Hammond in the early 70s -- a tight control of the organ keys that fuses wonderfully into the funky work of the rhythm section. And as on a few of his other recent sets, Ron's working here with some really heavyweight support from guitarist Melvin Sparks and saxman Karl Denson. Titles include "Spank", "Wes Side West", "Spy On The Fly", "Organ Colossus", and "Voodoo Boogaloo"." - Dusty Groove newsletter

"In a career that dates back nearly 35 years, keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Ron Levy has carried the banner for blues and soul-drenched jazz. He got his feet wet as a more straightforward blues player in B.B. King's band in the '70s, recording half a dozen albums and touring incessantly, as well as playing with other seminal artists including Lowell Fulson, Earl King and Luther "Guitar Jr." Johnson. But beginning in '85, Levy started a series of recordings with his ever-shifting group Wild Kingdom, releasing nearly a dozen records since that time that represent his own engaging blend of jazz, blues, funk, Latin and soul music. Levy's uptempo, groove-laden music has always been great party music, and his latest release, Voodoo Boogaloo is no exception.

Levy may overlay all manner of keyboards, acoustic and otherwise, but it's the Hammond B-3 organ that's his main axe, and he takes the lineage of players like Jimmy Smith and Booker T., into the 21st Century with the help of friends including woodwind multi-instrumentalist Karl Denson and, on a couple of tracks, acid jazz progenitor Melvin Sparks on guitar.

While the classic R&B sound of the '60s and '70s is the precedent, it's also mixed with a liberal dose of jazz vernacular. The title track alternates between an Afro-Cuban vibe, with Levy contributing some Cal Tjader-like vibes, and a light swing. Denson's flute and "Sax" Gordon's baritone make for a distinctive-sounding front-line, with Yahuba Garcia's congas and timbales providing the back-end glue. Both Denson and Sparks get the chance to strut, with Sparks delivering a quote-filled solo before Levy takes the lead, showing just how it's possible to combine clever ideas with a more in-the-gut visceral approach.

What's remarkable about the record is how it never strays from infectious grooves -- "Better Save Yo'seff" combines New Orleans strut with a certain hip hop vibe, and one could easily hear some turntables being added to the funk of "SPANK!" -- and yet almost insidiously introduces ideas that are a little off the beaten path. "Wes Side West" grooves no less insistently than the rest of the disc, but manages to blend in something that recalls the classic soul-jazz sound of '60s Blue Note recordings.

Between Levy's multiple keyboards, two saxophonists, two guitarists, three percussionists and, on "Memphis Mem'ries," a guest spot by harmonicist Jerry Portnoy, there are plenty of textures to keep things interesting. But, at the end of the day, it's Levy's remarkable intuition for creating a rhythm-happy sound while knowing just how far to take the jazzier aesthetic that gives Voodoo Boogaloo its broad appeal.

For a get-down, get-happy album that manages to be engaging on so many levels, it's unlikely that there'll be another jazz record this year that's plainly this much fun. And if Levy's this happening on disc, one can only imagine how great his band must be live."

~ John Kelman

Voodoo Boogaloo - Liner notes

Ron Levy's Wild Kingdom is an irrepressible group mixing jazz, blues, funk, Latin and soul music in a heady brew that really grooves. Multi-instrumentalist Levy, whose resume includes stints with Albert and BB King, Charles Brown, Roomful of Blues, ReBirth Brass Band, Lowell Fulsom, Ronnie Earl, Charles Earland, The Wild Magnolias and Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers, brings all his experience to the fore on Voodoo Boogaloo, playing Hammond B-3 organ, piano, vibes, basses, and a variety of electronic keyboards, in addition to composing and arranging all the music on the date. Joined by long-time Wild Kingdom regulars Melvin Sparks, the father of acid jazz, and jam band master saxist Karl Denson. Ron Levy's Wild Kingdom lets loose with some of the most soulful music on the planet today.

The opening "Organ Colossus" is a funky jungle strutting feature for Levy's B-3, clavinet and electric bass and "Sax" Gordon's tenor with the Wild Kingdom percussion section of Adrome "Acidman" MacHine's drums, Yahuba Garcia's congas, and Russ Lawton's bells cooking up a storm. The music is reminiscent of the classic R & B of Booker T and the MG's, the sixties soul of Stevie Wonder, the electrifying black rock of Sly and the Family Stone and the AfroPop of Manu Dibango all at the same time.

"Voodoo Boogaloo" showcases Levy's vibes on a Latin line in the Cal Tjader tradition that's jazzed up with a swinging Milestones-inspired bridge. Garcia's timbales and congas and Lawton's percussion spice up the mix with some salsa Picante, while Karl Denson soars on flute over Gordon's beefy baritone sax. Melvin Sparks lets fly with a classic guitar solo, quoting "Moanin'", "Tequila", and "Softly As A Morning Sunrise", backed by Levy's relentlessly grooving B-3.

Drum and bass open up the soulful ballad "Love Retoined" with Jeff Lockhart's guitar sharing the spotlight with Levy's organ and electric piano. Shades of Isaac Hayes meets Lonnie Liston Smith and the Cosmic Echoes.

"Better Save Yo'seff" is jazzy New Orleans styled rhythm and blues with "Sax" Gordon blowing shotgun tenor over "Acidman" MacHine's funky beat, bolstered by Lawton's tambourine. Levy settles into a comfortable Big Easy groove and stays right there, allowing Lockhart to get down with some great guitar gumbo.

Levy's "Spy On The Fly" is his take off on sixties' Quincy Jones cop show soundtracks, complete with sirens, string synthesizers and smokin' Sax. The leader's busy hands stay full on this one, soloing on vibes and B-3 while wielding his full arsenal of keyboards in the background.

Garcia's congas and Lawton's tambourine set up Levy's organ and MacHine's traps for another Nawlins outing on the bluesy "Spank!" Denson and Gordon, on tenor and baritone, are one fierce horn section, riffing away the day, before Denson steps out front for a vicious solo. Levy mixes things up on organ, clavinet and the Korg MS-20 for a rockin' good time.

"Wes Side West" is a pretty jazz line executed with finesse by Denson on flute with Levy on bass and keys and Lawton's insistent tambourine pushing the percussion section. Sparks shows his stuff with a gutsy solo before Denson takes it to another level with an extended flute flight. Levy gets into the act with some jazzy organ licks before letting Sparks fade it out.

The date ends with "Memphis Mem'ries". Levy puts his electric and acoustic pianos up front on this one with Denson backing him on alto and tenor in the sax section. Special guest Jerry Portnoy, veteran of the Muddy Waters Blues Band and sideman with guitar giant Eric Clapton blows some mean blues harmonica, at times sounding like a lazy Tennessee freight train, before Denson steps out front with some fat tenor. Levy winds the proceedings down with some mellow vibes and keyboards.

Voodoo Boogaloo is truly an exemplary excursion into Ron Levy's Wild Kingdom. It's a place where people can party on the timeless sounds of funky jazz and soulful blues as they groove into tomorrow.

- Russ Musto, d'Bronx USA



to write a review

Buck Wild

Liable to go tribal
Jazziki lounge is open.The bamboo bar becons .A tropical groove liqour awaits while a Cool cat combo swings funky in the cabana.Carefull dont pop a sandel strap!


awesome sound and coheseve album!
Okay now, this is the most cohesive of Ron Levy's albums and feels more like a composition of an album than a collection of songs. All his stuff is great and I'm just listening to this for the first time and feel that each song fits into a larger groove. The Hammond dominates but here it has worthy peers in the sax and guitar. A rich and funky groove. Love it! If you only get one Ron Levy album, get this. But then get the others. "Prayin the Blues W/ Gray Sargent" on Best Grooves & Jams is a must-have.

Rupert Finkelstein

Intensive care beckons??
Wow man. This scene is completely space aged. The man knows how to pack a sonic boom right into your fuzzy ole ear drums. Like a locomotive developing amazing forces and then spring-boarding into my cranium. Do you know how zucchinis and star fruit make a great health drink? So too does The Wild Kingdom. They are the juicer for this poor boys organic market. You can afford to buy this project at this price to. So when you amasse this kind of artistry how can you contain it? By getting "Sax" Gordon Beadle into your recording studio. Listen to the Korg MS-20 chug along under the masterfull direction of Mr. Levy. You may need to arrange your hide-A-bed before calling it a night. The recording quality is pretty sick. Great cd to irritate your roomies with too.