Cissy street blasted into the French jazz-funk scene with their first eponymous album in 2017; brandishing a repertoire of entirely original compositions that they’ve been performing in festivals ever since. Their music explores “the heart of a heady groove that mixes explosive funk, jubilant solos and ear-catching melodies (…)  this is scorching hot music that we’d recommend to all ages, all types of crowds in any season.” (Dragon Jazz)

Coming out in June 2020, their new album “La Tour du Pouvoir” reinforces the band’s original identity whilst paying an obvious tribute to Tower of Power and other forefathers of jazz funk. With its motley crew of featuring artists, illustrious french funk singer as Juan Rozoff or unlikely guests such as the Fabulous Trobadors who play the Black Indians in French, or daringly integrating a Bourrée (French dance) from Auvergne amongst the funktastical grooves, this disk is not uniquely the result of a simple American affiliation, but a far more complex and authentic brew. 

These are tracks coloured with revolution and activism, showing that beyond rallying us to the dance floor, funk can also rally us to a cause just as it did for the African-Americans. 

Although dance, trance, a smile on the lips, bodies dripping with sweat and eyes flashing with vital energy are at the core of Cissy Street’s music, their new album comes tinged with a bittersweet after-taste; a steely beat concealed in the groove. For this music echoes the Black Panther’s snarl – exudes the very same sweat of toil and struggle – recalls James Brown’s howl: “Say it Loud! I’m Black and I’m Proud. Musical revolution joins hands with revolution in the streets: Cold Sweat, one of the biggest hits in funk history, was released the year before the riots of ‘68. It was a reflection of those tumultuous times. And it’s from this dimension that the Lyon-based band draw their energy. In its revolutionary cry and its universal nature. The titles from this album are a testament. 

Tric!” means “strike” in old Lyonnais dialect and would be heard in the rallying cries of the printer’s revolt in 1539. The same cry for liberty was shared by oppressed African-Americans and “canuts” (silkworkers from Lyon). That same cry resounded when the Black Indians of New Orleans appropriated American Indian symbols in their protests.

So, playing the French Black Indians, it was only natural that the Fabulous Trobadors were invited to feature in their track “Il nous ment” (He’s lying to Us), a catchy track inspired by French protests in 2003. There’s a trance-like aspect to revolutionary chants. Wasn’t it a Voodoo ceremony in Bois-Caïman (Alligator Forest in Haiti) in 1791 which would set the tone for the first triumphant slave revolution? Isn’t it when the pawns stop obeying the rules and the game starts to fall to pieces that the combat begins?

We appropriate a music while appropriating its message. So rather than mimicking American culture, Cissy Street plays it authentically. Not only as enthusiasts and followers of a style, but also as residents from a region with their own dances, trances, voodoo and struggles, both past and present. Perhaps it’s strange. But couldn’t hearing a bourrée (French dance) from Auvergne played by a funk-jazz band be considered normal when some of its members grew up in Auvergne?

Recording Cissy Street on the same disk as Juan Rozoff, a pioneer of French Funk, the Fabulous Trobadors metamorphed into New Orleans Funk while continually nodding to Maceo, James Brown, Tower of Power and the Meters, is all about casting it in an original light. It’s all about revolutionaries rubbing shoulders. 

Vincent Périer

Saxophone

Francis Larue

Guitare, compositions

Yacha Berdah

Trompette

Etienne Kermarc

Basse

Hugo Crost

Batterie