Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Funkin' For Portugal

Tom Browne (born October 30, 1954, Queens, New York), commonly referred to as "Mr. Jamaica Funk", is a jazz trumpeter who rose to prominence first through his early work with Sonny Fortune and for his 1980 single "Funkin' For Jamaica (N.Y)".

Browne originally played piano, having taken lessons from the age of 11. Turning to the trumpet, inspired by his collection of jazz albums, his first gig was in a Queens club, The Village Door. In 1975, he landed his first professional gig with Weldon Irvine.

From here he played with Sonny Fortune and Lonnie Smith and was later introduced to Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen at GRP Records via Earl Klugh. Grusin and Rosen signed him to GRP (via Arista Records) and Browne broke onto the music scene in 1979 with a highly acclaimed instrumental jazz fusion album Browne Sugar, although this was not released in the UK. His first real breakthrough came in 1980 with the release of "Funkin' For Jamaica", taken from his second album Love Approach. The single hit #1 on Billboard's Hot Soul Singles for 4 weeks, and was also a UK Top 10 hit, and featured the lead vocals of Tonni Smith.

Continuing his association with producers Grusin and Rosen, his next albums were Yours Truly (1981), including "Fungi Mama" and "Bye Gones", and "Magic" (1982), before he signed directly to Arista. Here he progressed into an electro style of jazz with "Rockin' Radio" from a 1983 album of the same name (which also included a final GRP production "Brighter Tomorrow"). In 1984 he recorded a final Arista album Tommy Gun, which featured Siedah Garrett singing lead on the leading moment "Secret Fantasy" produced by Maurice Starr. Also in 1984 he recorded with Fuse One on their Ice album.

He also recorded with Roy Ayers on "Goree Island", taken from his In The Dark album. Browne moved to Malaco Records and performed a large amount of session work. In 2000, Browne re-recorded "Funkin' For Jamaica" on Jazz FM's 101 Eastbound compilation album alongside fellow jazz artist, Bob Baldwin. The track re-utilised the vocal skills of Tonni Smith (featured on the original).

Tom Browne - Funkin' For Jamaica

No comments: