When asked the reason for forming Children of the Horn, sax player Wayne
Leechford’s reply is as straightforward as it gets: “I wanted
to start a funk band.” Leechford was one-third of the horn section
in another band (“we were getting a big sound,” Leechford
offers), and the other two guys were quickly sold on his idea. They traded
mix CDs of their favorite funk jams to get a feel for their direction.
“What we came up with was heavily influenced by funk and jazz-funk
from the late sixties and early seventies,” he recalls. “The
One of those two other horn players, trombonist Robo Jones, is still
in the band, and the line-up has been fleshed out gradually. Drummer
Ed Butler and keyboardist Jim Crew signed on as the rhythm section, with
Crew’s work on organ eliminating the need to recruit a bass player.
Cornet player Bryan McCune took over for original member James Lane,
and versatile guitarist Bernie Petteway recently became the sixth Child
of the Horn. The results, true to Leechford’s initial blueprint,
can be described as funk, but to be exhaustive mention also has to be
made of jazz, rock, New Orleans, Caribbean, Afro/Cuban, and R&B.
The Independent Weekly managed to corner five of the six band members
recently. And although they probably would have preferred talking about
their self-titled debut record and the upcoming show to celebrate its
release, the guys graciously discussed their other musical activities
and influences as well as how to build a first-rate funk collection from
Independent Weekly: You all are incredibly busy. Please tell us about
some of the other bands and musical projects that you're involved with
beyond Children of the Horn?
Jim Crew: Bernie, Ed, and I have been doing some trio gigs, playing
an eclectic selection jazz-type tunes. I am also recording/producing
several singer/songwriters in my home studio.
Bernie Petteway: In addition to freelance gigs and the trio with Ed
and Jim, I have
another jazz guitar trio with Ed and bassist Robbie Link. And I play
acoustic music in a contra dance band called Contrazz with my wife Diane
on piano, Rodney Marsh on sax and flute, and David DiGuiseppe on accordion.
I also participate in another acoustic ensemble called Stringfellows
and occasionally play alt-country gigs and shows for local theater productions.
Wayne Leechford: I'm mostly freelance. I do a fair amount of musical
theater, chamber music, big bands, and I play with a couple other groups
I started: the Raleigh Saxophone Quartet and my own jazz group, the Wayne
Leechford Trio. I'm getting more and more into recording in my home studio.
Right now, I'm developing a new Latin jazz/salsa band with some other
local area musicians.
Bryan McCune: I do freelance gigs off and on. I try to be engaged in
some sort of recording project at any given time. I have produced several
unconventional CDs in recent years, including Zoneranger's Twilight and
my own Trumpet Rock, on which you'll find some COTH members.
IW: If someone were starting a funk collection from scratch, what are
ten or so records that are absolutely mandatory?
Collectively: Blue Break Beats, Vol. 1-4. Maceo Parker’s Life
on Planet Groove. The Best of Parliament: Give Up the Funk. The James
Brown box set Star Time. Lonnie Smith’s Witch Doctor. John Scofield’s
A Go Go. Medeski Martin and Wood’s Shack-man. Soulive’s Doin'
Something. Marcus Miller’s Tales. Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters.
Miles Davis’ Bitch's Brew.
WL: If you want a real education in funk and you are fortunate enough
to live in the Raleigh/Durham area, then all you need to do is tune your
radio to 88.9 WSHA every Friday and listen to John Bouille's "Funk
Friday" program. I've learned tons about the music from listening
to his show.
IW: There are obviously a number of other styles at work (and at play)
in your music and a number of influences. If somebody were to make a
speculative list during a COTH show or while listening to your CD, what
are some of the things that you think might be listed in the "Influences"
EB: I don't even know where to begin. When I started playing drums,
I was listening to Elton John, Earth, Wind, & Fire, some Creedence
Clearwater Revival, Yes, Genesis, Led Zeppelin, Otis Redding and a whole
lot of Weather Report. It wasn't until much later that I started listening
to John Coltrane and Miles Davis. I never really know how to answer these
kinds of questions about "styles" or "categories.” One
person's vision of something jazz may be another person's idea of funk
WL: Everything from classical to metal! I go through phases where I
immerse myself in whatever I'm digging at the moment. I've turned into
a real jazz head lately. I'm mostly listening to hard bop from the sixties.
Blue Note recordings like Donald Byrd/Pepper Adams, Hank Mobley, Lee
Morgan, Grant Green, Jimmy Smith, and many more. I also listen to electronic
music by the likes of LTJ Bukem, DJ Shadow, Chemical Brothers, and remixes
of many other artists' music.
BP: Pat Martino, Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, Jimmy Nolen, Roy Buchanan,
and more recently John Scofield. I was in a horn-based R&B band in
the early ‘70s, playing a lot of stuff by the Meters and War, so
it's fun to revisit that kind of configuration and sound again.
JC: All my organ heroes! Dr Lonnie Smith, Larry Goldings, Neal Evans,
to name a few. Plus, Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller, Eddie Palmieri, Marc
Cary, The Meters, Weather Report, Salif Keita, Baba Maal, King Sunny
Ade, Papa Wemba.
BM: As far as trumpet/cornet: Miles Davis, Jon Hassell, Don Cherry,
and my dad (who still plays his ass off) to name a few. Other influencing
artists include Bill Frisell, Johnny Cash, Dick Dale, and Wayne Horvitz.