Jacob Yanosick | staff writer
Funky Fly, a jazz-inspired funk group, performed at The Duke’s musician showcase on Feb. 20, offering their genre-mixing musical talent and sharing their many influences.
The four-member group consists of two Duquesne students, a 10th grader and a 22-year-old.
With Eric Dowdell Jr. on bass, the four-member band is composed of Winston Bell on saxophone, Henry Schultz on keys and Brandon Terry on drums. Bell and Schultz are also students at the Duquesne University Mary Pappert School of Music. In their creative process, Dowdell and Terry usually focus on the groove and rhythm, while Bell and Schultz focus on harmony and melody.
The refusal to only stick to one genre was apparent during their performance. They performed the title tracks from both of their albums – Sunday Afternoon and Déjà Vu. These songs show how the group has effortlessly blended different styles and genres together, taking influence from jazz and contemporary funk music.
“We don’t want to have any genre labels on us, we are just musicians,” Dowdell said.
The music comes to them naturally; playing by ear, the band members work together to create their own unique sound.
“We usually start with a simple groove, and then add to it over time to shape it into what we want,” Terry said.
The group has been influenced by many different genres and styles of music, which are incorporated into the music they create. Schultz said that he’d love to open a show for Damon Albarn, the co-founder of the group Gorillaz — a British electronic dance band. Bell’s dream would be to open for Terrace Martin or Lalah Hathaway, and Dowdell also shared interests in opening for hip-hop artists.
While Jazz used to be an extremely popular genre almost a century ago, it is not as prevalent nowadays. Funky Fly is hoping to help revitalize the style with a new modern twist.
“The music helps tell the story,” Bell said.
With this, Funky Fly is committed to making it in the music industry.
Bell said he believes that one day he can see Funky Fly being a full-time gig.
“It would be possible one day, but it wouldn’t be easy. Definitely possible though,” Bell said.
The band mates spoke about the paths they may have taken if music wasn’t in their lives, though they all agreed they are thankful for the opportunities that music granted them.
Such opportunities include the shows they got to perform before the pandemic: They had played around 80 shows within a year, with many locations in the upper East Coast and even a performance in Chicago.
As they dive deeper into the realm of performance, Funky Fly expects challenges along the way.
According to Bell, the music industry has a lot of room for improvement.
“I would change many things about labels and label decisions,” Bell said. “I think they should give everyone a chance to get heard and signed. I also think independent artists should be paid more royalties, so they can make a living off their music.”
The members of Funky Fly are hopeful for the future, especially once live shows are safe to attend. Their plans include working on a third album, and also going on another tour. They would like to perform further down the East Coast, as well as a show in New York City.
Funky Fly has a bright future in further expanding their already unique sound, overall impacting audiences with their music.