Friday, June 14, 2024

Queen of the Soul’s Ana Popovic leads Fantastafunk Big Band Project

Celebrated guitarist and vocalist Ana Popovic will be taking her new musical adventure, the Fantastafunk Big Band Project, to prestigious music festivals this summer, including the Monterey Jazz Festival California, Notodden Blues Festival, Norway, Pori Jazz, Finland, and elsewhere.

To coincide with the news of the Fantastafunk project, Popovic has released a live single. Entitled ‘Queen Of The Pack’ it’s available on all streaming platforms here, and you can check out thelive performance of her performing it on the video featured here at RAMzine.

Fantastafunk merges styles, using Popovic’s songs delivered in a new way, alongside those made for this new project, mixed with some great funk, soul, gospel, and blues sounds and standards that the audience will love hearing again. With great grooves and excellent musicianship, with multiple vocalists, percussionist, drummer, three horn players, bass, keyboards and guitar, it’s an 11-piece band that will be a showcase to remember on any of the leading music festivals today.

 “I felt ready to form a big band, for quite some time,” explained Popovic.  “I just felt I knew exactly what I wanted to hear from my live performances, and what instrumentation was missing for that sound in a 6-piece band formation. The final push was the making of my 2023 album, Power.”

She continued, “An album like Power demands a band like this, one that will really be able to fully come to life. That’s the way it was originally thought of and created.  I felt ready to give myself a chance to create that kind of a sound.  So many new influences, such as gospel, old school funk, soul, R&B, I really wanted to bring that record to life on stage.

“This is how the idea of the big soul funk formation came about. Power was recorded in different cities in Los Angeles, Dallas, Detroit, Orlando. It gave me – exactly what it’s title states – Power to get through most difficult time in my life, being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020. It practically infused life back to me.”

“Now, four years later, and leaving all that behind, I feel great in my skin, I delivered a positive, inspiring record, and so much fun to play live. Following hundreds of shows since then, as energized as I was after my treatment was done, I was ready to take on, not just touring, but fronting a 11-piece power/jam/groove formation!”

The Fantastafunk live performance videos were recorded in November 2023 at the Bloom Recording Studios in Rome, Italy. They were engineered by Fabrizio Ludovici, with video production by Daniele Chinelli.

“I had three days off, and I almost single-handedly organised the whole thing!  Got the studio, organised musicians, cameras, engineers, and chose the songs for the videos. I also play a big part in editing my videos. I have an idea how I want them to sound and look. It was hard work, but also so much joy of getting friends together, enjoying each other’s company, post-recording, in a cosy Italian restaurant, eating great pasta and having great wine and Apperol spritz! Those were perfect three days – such energizing work, with sweet people – family!”

“Some of the songs, like ‘Queen Of The Pack’ are from the album Power but done in the big band style and others (to be released) are all-new, never-previously-released tracks that will culminate into my next record that’s being finished as we speak.

“There’s a U.S. line-up and a European line-up.  I’m very excited to be able to present the band already on three major Jazz and Blues festivals, on both sides of the ocean, Monterey Jazz Fest in California, Pori Jazz in Finland, and Notodden Festival in Norway.”

The line-up varies but consists of the following: Ana Popovic – Lead singer, guitar player, band leader; Buthel (EU/US) Bass, Jeremy Thomas (EU/US) and Francisco Mendolia (EU) – Drums; Michele Papadia (EU) and Aaron Mayfield (US) Keyboards; Karl Vandenbossche (EU) and Jerwayne Maclin (US) Percussion; Claudio Giovagnoli (EU), Evan Knight (US) and Jonathan Mones (US) – Saxophones; Jordan Carr (US) and Davide Ghidoni (EU)Trumpets; SueAnn, L Young and Madam Dee (US) and Noreen Stewart, Jacob Atta Kaakra Eggay and Geraldine Reid, Letitia Dei, Barbara Caldini and Nadia Guelfi (EU)Background vocals.

Musically, Ana Popovic tends not to stand still.  She’s known for pushing boundaries, challenging genres, and reinventing the music and herself with each new record and each new concept.  Thus  Ana Popovic & The Fantastafunk Big Band Project is likely to be unique in concert.

Paul H Birch
Paul H Birch
RAMzine Senior Writer - Writer of fiction, faction and fact, has edited several newsstand magazines. He declares himself a hack for hire but refuses to compromise on the subject of music.

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