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Highly regarded in soul-jazz circles, organ combo Funk, Inc. has specialized in a very accessible, groove-oriented blend of jazz, funk and R&B. The group was founded in Indianapolis in 1969 by organist Bobby Watley, who recruited tenor saxman Eugene Barr, guitarist Steve Weakley, drummer Jimmy Munford and conga player Cecil Hunt. In the early 1970s, the original lineup came to the attention of Bob Porter, a well respected producer who signed Funk, Inc. to Prestige and paved the way for the band to record five albums for that label. After stressing improvisation on its first three albums Funk, Inc., Chicken Lickin' and Hangin' Out, Funk, Inc. started to lose its way in the mid-1970s and turned to heavier production, more arranging and background vocals. This slicker approach led to tension within the group, and Funk, Inc. broke up in 1976. Watley continued to play live gigs on his own in the Midwest, and it wasn't until the mid-1990s that he would organize a new Funk, Inc. lineup. With Britain's acid jazz scene having focused attention on Funk, Inc.'s work, Watley organized a new lineup that included Hunt and newcomers Teddy Patterson (alto & tenor sax), Doug Swanigan (guitar) and Phil Brines (drums). Sadly, original members Munford and Barr had died. With this lineup in place and Funk, Inc. recording for Prestige once again, the band entered the studio in 1995 and recorded its first album in 21 years, Urban Renewal. It was also during that 1990s that Fantasy reissued some of Funk's 1970s efforts on CD.
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