Warm Excursion - Hang Up Pt 1
Paul Gayten: New Orleans Player
Turned Hollywood Entrepreneur
Greetings. Today’s selection is really quite funky, more of – how do they say – a “Friday” record than a “Wednesday” record. However, here at the Funky16Corners blog we’re all about breaking the rules, shaking things up and “thinking outside the box” (idiotic cliché overload!!!). Well, I suspect that the rules are loose, things are already shook, and the box is pretty small, so in tribute to expectations raised, lowered, and then – craftily – raised yet again, we bring you ‘Hang Up Part 1’ by Warm Excursion. Since hearing this tune years ago, I’ve been trying to track down and bag a copy, but the ever fluid world of funk 45s conspired against me – until recently – when a minty fresh copy rolled into my sights and was quickly, shot, stuffed and mounted (or things to that effect...). As I’ve stated her before, I’m always game for a funky organ jam, and this is a stellar example of that particular sub-genre. But first, a little background... The Pzazz label (“Put a little Pzazz in your jazz!”) was started by New Orleans legend Paul Gayten (funny, isn't it how things always make their way back to New Orleans?). Gayten, who wrote and recorded some seminal R&B in the Big Easy in the 1950’s, eventually winged it out to the West Coast where he ran things for Chess Records on that end of the map for some years. He started Pzazz in 1968, and over the next few years released all kinds of records; jazz, funk, soul and blues, with a catalogue including a few dozen 45s and a handful of LPs (and an especially cool label design). Pzazz had success with recordings by Lorez Alexandria, and also released sides by veterans like Louis Jordan. Also included in their discography is another funky organ classic, ‘Twitchie Feet’ by The Soul Machine. I haven’t really been able to track down much information about the group Warm Excursion (subtitled ‘Terrible Three’ on the 45 label). They recorded at least one other 45 for the Watts-USA label, ‘Funk-I-Tus’ b/w ‘Phut-ball’, and were almost definitely LA-based. There’s also a rumor that they recorded a full albums worth of material, which was destroyed at some point. ‘Funk-I-Tus’, which was included on one of Goldmine’s ‘Sound of Funk’ volumes is a loose, funky organ jam. If you’ve ever heard ‘Soul Brother’ by Art Butler (blogged here months ago) ‘Funk-I-Tus’ has a really similar groove. ‘Hang Up Pts 1&2’ delivers a little more on the “jazz” promised on the label. The tune is a hard hitting slice of jazzy funk, with some hard (well-recorded) drums, wailing Hammond organ and sax. The horn chart sounds JBs-esque, and the playing is top notch. The group sound mixes elements of the harder-edged soul jazz coming out on Prestige in the same era, as well as early Kool & The Gang. There’s a very nice sax solo leading into the fade out of Part 1. ‘Hang Up Pts 1&2’ appeared at one point on a Ubiquity records comp, but I don’t know if it’s still available. Most of the Sound of Funk volumes can still be picked found. If you’re digging for 45’s, expect the ‘Hang Up’ 45 to pull upwards of $40-$50 out of your wallet, and the ‘Funk-I-Tus’ 45 to hit you for over $250.00.