‘Raw in Amsterdam’ Is Funk Well Done

Raw in Amsterdam, just released from Philip Lassiter,  is a well done live funk party. I was first introduced to Lassiter when he and his band opened for Snarky Puppy in Atlanta in 2015. If you know anything about Michael League, SP’s leader, you know that he only brings great talent to open and I was a fan right away.

Lassiter mixes funk, gospel, New Orleans jazz, and soul in his work and is an 11-time Grammy award winner including his work with Prince. This album in live big band format includes some very special guests, notably Candy Dulfer, Amsterdam’s resident sax goddess anf former Prince saxophonist as well as Durand Bernard for some smashing lead vocals.

I’ve been looking forward to this release as the singles were trickling out, especially since his album ‘Party Crashers’ made it on my Best of 2018 list. Here’s my track-by-track coverage.


Purple, a natural nod to Prince, features Candy Dulfer and her explosive ending solo blows up an already fire track. It starts with a little fanfare and pops right into a Prince-like jam, with a side of Parliament-style background ‘ooh-ooh-ooh-yaw’ vox.  Lassiter cranks on the synth and the horn-drum-bass.

Halfway through there’s a helluva spacey synth solo with Lassiter immediately ripping a trumpet orbital shot leading right into the pumped up Candy Dulfer solo that rides to the finish. Candy can play like nobody’s biz – I’be been a fan since her first album and hit “Lily Was Here” back in 1989. It’s hard to believe that she’s been driving hard so long and strong. Great opener!

Party Crashers is the title track from Lassiter’s 2010 album and was cowritten by Bobby Sparks from Snarky Puppy. No surprise that this tune has lyrics exhorting peeps to get on up and turn it out. It’s got a great effect trumpet solo from Lassiter midway smashing horn line throughout. Great to keep the juices flowing!

Repent was another single + video release, featuring Durand Bernarr and Candy Dulfer. It has a circular horn a la Tower of Power and Durand is super dynamic dancing througout with the emphatic  repeat “I Need to Repent.”  Lassiter has another excellent, synth-like trumpet solo before Candy pops in to join him, mugging for the camera and blowing her heart out. She’s a great altisimmo player. She a fantastic soloist going way back to her days playin with Maceo Parker on his “Life on Planet Groove” album in the early ’90s.

Make America Love Again features Durand on vocals and opens with a huge fanfare before a super chill chorus of ‘ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh’ melts away into the meaningfull lyrics in a candy wrapper. The song describes ‘the good old days’ in realstic and not euphoric terms “when you had no rights.” The message clear in this slick anthem to unite and Make America Love Again.

Take A Little Time is a bouncy, reggae tune featuring Josie Roier on lead vocals. She sounds great against the pumping bass line. The horns here are accenting, the main theme and placed perfectly. The horns take it to the bridge as a section.The bass line and chanting in the back half is absolutely a groove. The tune is a pleasant and clear style break on the album and fits smashingly.

Bump The Man first popped up on the Party Crashers album and this updated version takes its energy to the next level. The drum intro sounds like a Tower of Power riff and Durand’s vocals are tight and have that old school feel. The horn work is spectacular as expected serving as the accent to the vocal line. The background vocals make this protest song sound cheerful. Glen Gaddum leads a bass laden bridge before and the main chorus glides to the end. 

Poof has a deep bass and horn line with a multivocal lead in a downtempo tune. Philip has a “Fresh-Prince”-like rap midway through followed by a guitar solo from Richie Reichgelt and a return to the main theme close.

Sugar Coat Me starts with a classic 70s funk feel with background vocals before Durand comes in as lead. The horn fills around the vocals are fast and punchy. There’s an soulful interlude with keys, percussion and Durand showing great range. This is one bouncy groove and move track.

Diamond In The Rough is a ballad with Kris Rietveld handling the lead vocals. Here the horns have a more subdued position. Lassiter takes an extended trumpet solo midway with a floating accompaniment. This has a little of the ethereal feel you might get from some classic EWF feel, like “After The Love Is Gone”, more soulful, acid jazz than pure funk. It’s a good change of pace from most of the songs on the album. 

Die Fighting is slower paced, message laden tune with Lassiter on lead vocals and only keys support for the first half. It’s an homage to die fighting for love that’s worth it. The second half builds its plea with the addition of drums and guitar to the mix. It’s a bit like a Ray Charles southern blues sound.

Wings of Love is a New Orleans syncopated with a rolling distinctive drum line and that full danceable funky feel. The keys have a real honky tonk sound.  This is a definite highlight for me on the album.

Soul Music initially hits like a Prince tune, all slapping bass and a full dance groove. Once the vocals kick in with the horns the party shifts into full gear expressing similar sentiment to Tower of Power’s “Soul With a Capital S” etolling the absolute power of that swee soul music. The horn line here is spectacular and the funky synth solo takes this album closer to the next level. There’s a little fake break at the end and the final closer section brings all the funk foward, especially the bass solo from Glen Gaddum. 

The Players

  • Philip Lassiter – Vocals, Trumpet, Keys
  • Background Vocals – Angela Vergouwen, Josie Roier, Kris Rietveld
  • Baritone Saxophone – Floris Vandervlugt
  • Bass – Glenn Gaddum
  • Drums – Niek de Bruijn
  • Guitar- Richie Reichgelt
  • Tenor Saxophone – Itai Weissman
  • Trombone – Efe Erdem
  • Trumpet – Alvaro Jimenez, Nick Mead

Special Guests

  • Candy Dulfer, Alto Saxophone (Purple, Repent)
  • Durand Bernarr (Repent, Make America Love Again, Bump the Man, Sugar Coat Me, Wings of Love, Soul Music)