Who is Tony McGhee? A fair and appropriate question for anyone unfamiliar with this artist. My introduction was an on-the-fly experience. Walking out of a local music store recently, I was stopped dead in my tracks by the fat, funky, expressive bass and tight arrangement being then blared over the store’s speakers. After returning inside and inquiring about the producer of this magnetic sound and energy, I was introduced by store personnel to Tony McGhee. My question was not only answered, but my intrigue and interest had been piqued to a point where I just had to hear more. That has proved to be a great decision on my part.
McGhee, a clearly competent drummer who apparently hails from my neck of the woods (mixing and recording in Prince George’s County, MD) has very little information published about him. In fact, the Web is silent on this talented drummer, for now. Time will surely tell if that remains the case.
He teams up here with Darryl Braswell, aka "Brazz", a truly skilled bassist/vocalist who obviously loves and has mastered the artistry of expressive bass lines. Another undiscovered talent, it appears, as nothing is published about him either. The two of them share the writing and producing of most of the tunes here and they have truly done a masterful job. Adding a seasoned touch of smoothness and pizzazz is the contribution from better known guest guitarist Earl Carter, another local and former member of the 80s/90s dance/GoGo band EU.
From the opening track "So Much Soul" and sailing through to the last cut "Saxx Groove," there is an abundance of musicianship on display here with polished tunes, clear, smooth vocals and marvelous sax work from one Bryan Mills. From bluesy reflective pieces to bottom-heavy funk that should be considered on the verge of being illegal for the way in which it steals your attention and awe. In fact, "What Happened to the Funk," answers its own question. Tony McGhee happened to the funk. A very good thing. As Brazz sings in the lyric, "Funk ain’t goin’ nowhere." While he rattles the names of some of the key pioneers of funk in tribute, artists like McGhee will keep the life’s blood of funk alive and well.
If you’re looking for that new "shot in the arm" from a good, comfortable artist or even an old favorite, steer off the course well-traveled and try out Tony McGhee for size. This artist has the potential and direction to be with us for quite awhile.