Tunes From the Singing Tower

(Where carillons ring out on the seaside.)

Urszula Dudziak

Oh dear God, I want this! It’s a self-titled record from Funk Factory, originally issued in 1976 but re-released on CD this past month. It already seems to be rather scarce, but I’ve seen other sites outside Dusty Groove America where it’s available.

According to Dusty Groove: A massive bit of funky fusion from the 70s — an album that was crucially overlooked at the time, but which has gone onto become a crate-diggers classic over the years! The group’s fronted by Polish jazz legends Michal Urbaniak and Urszula Dudziak — but it also features a fair bit of American players too — all working together in a blend of the best funky fusion modes going down in both the US and Eastern Europe in the mid 70s! Drums on the set are totally great — played by Steve Gadd or Gerald Brown, depending on the track — and some tracks have weird vocal bits that riff around the instrumentation, sung either by Urszula, Bernard Kafka, or some other backing singers. The keyboards are great — quite tripped-out at times, but never too over the top — and overall, the album’s a fair bit more soulful and funky than most of Urbaniak’s other work of the 70s. Titles include the killer sample track “Rien Ne Va Plus” — used famously by the Beastie Boys many years back — plus “After The World Goes Home”, “Funk It”, “Sinkin Low”, “Next Please”, “Horsing Around”, and “Watusi Dance”.

For those unfamiliar with Dudziak, she was a Polish (fusion) jazz and disco singer from the Seventies and Eighties heavily influenced by Ella Fitzgerald who had a tendency to distort her vocals electronically. Expect wordless scatting and expressive vocalizing galore, basically. A Night in Tunisia was my introduction to her and it won me over immediately. She seems to best known for Papaya, which made #3 on the Club Play Singles charts (dance) and #9 on the Disco Singles charts in America in 1975. The Los Angeles Times also named her their Jazz Singer of the Year in 1979. She’s still apparently around, too! I found the following on Youtube a moment ago and her voice hasn’t changed a bit, not to neglect to mention that she herself has aged very well:

Going back to “Papaya“, apparently that song’s become a part of a dancing phenomenon in the Philippines. Click here to see what I mean. From what I seem to understand, it’s received a bit of a revival apparently due to a variety show called Game Ka Na Ba hosted by Edu Manzano, where he does a bit of an eyecatching bum-wiggle that now seems to be imitated countrywide by children and adults alike.

Wild. More proof that someone needs to get around to reissuing her solo albums immediately. They’re all pretty much out-of-print.

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31 August 2007 - Posted by | Disco, Funk Factory, Fusion, Urszula Dudziak

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