The Kennedy Center

The Funk Ark



Biography

A native of the Washington D.C. area, Will Rast (Antibalas) grew up listening to old music. Rast has been composing and playing professionally since the age of 14. A love of vintage Funk and Soul, as well as a wide range of instrumental jazz styles were the ultimate impetus behind the formation of the group in 2007.
 
As a member of Washington D.C.'s fast growing community of artists, it was easy to find a set of incredibly talented instrumentalists to form a band big enough to create the range of sound he was looking for. The band began with some compositions that were reminiscent of Lonnie Liston Smith, or Herbie Hancock, but it was Rast's growing interest in the Afro Beat music of Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Mono Mono, of Nigeria, Mulatu Astatke and Mahmoud Ahmed of Ethiopia, as well as the legendary Salsa ensemble The Fania Allstars, that caused the band's direction to the shift towards a more polyrhythmic funk sound.

Each of the many rhythm instruments you hear in The Funk Ark's songs is playing a small, but integral role in the overall groove. Like the various gears and springs in a clock, each player performs their role with precision to create an intense and driving beat that acts as a bed for soaring melodic improvisation and tight, rhythmic horn lines.

Their latest album, Man is a Monster, is a collection of songs from a period of two years during which Rast traveled more than ever had before, spending time in countries, most of which, countries he had never visited. The songs were conceived in that spirit of exploration, in a global sense, but also of our musical and technical abilities. This album's eclectic sound is an indication of the many influences and experiences of the group, as well as our intent to take the emphasis away from traditional 4/4 rhythms and channel those influences into something deeper and more challenging than our previous work.

Watch Past Performances

Video 1/5/2015: The Funk Ark

The funk/Afro-beat ensemble plays music that is gritty, soulful, and invigorating. Presented with Listen Local First DC.

The Funk Ark