Nils Landgren Funk Unit – RAW (ENG review)

ACT music – Street Date June 28th 2024
Funky Jazz
Nils Landgren Funk Unit – RAW:

Celebrating 30 years of Nils Landgren Funk Unit

The Funk Unit of the most famous and excellent trombonist, composer, arranger, and singer, Nils Landgren, is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the band. Frankly, if there are exciting projects we are always happy to review, this band, unique in its genre in Europe and masterfully led by Nils, is definitely one of them. Let’s let Nils Landgren recount the history of the Funk Unit:

“The year 1994 marks the birth of the Funk Unit. When I got the offer from Siggi Loch to join his new label ACT, the first thing he did was to change the original band name from Unit to Funk Unit. When I asked why, he answered: ‘because you play funk’ – and he was right. The rest is history. After 30 years of albums, touring, and everything that comes with it, I thought it would be great to go somewhere special for our 30th-anniversary recording session. It happens that I have a dear friend, Johan Lundgren, who was my trombone student lightyears ago, and he, along with another friend, Fredrik Thomander, built a fantastic recording studio in Palma on the island of Mallorca. Wouldn’t it be a great opportunity for all of us, after all these years together, to record the album in a relaxed setting, being able to fully concentrate on our task? To make an album celebrating our 30-year history as a Swedish funk band.”

The CD has been in our hands for a while, and given the impressive discographic news of 2024 with a significant increase in album production, I decided to write this review well in advance. After numerous listens, this album is a bit different from the previous ones. You can feel the joy of life, probably a consequence of recording in Mallorca under the conditions explained above, leading to this particularly fun or particularly funky album, if you prefer. Nils Landgren continues explaining the creation of this album:

“I presented the idea to my fellow band members, and they all loved it. So did Andreas Brandis, head of the ACT label, my musical home where all my albums have been released since 1994 – twelve of them with Funk Unit, this one included. So now all I had to do was book the flights, the studio, find accommodation for us all, and figure out a way to finance the stay. Oh, there was one more little thing. We all had to write songs for the album. As we met for rehearsals before leaving for the island of Mallorca, no one knew what was written and by whom. I had worked hard in my spare time, coming in with five songs. So anyway, we started from scratch, listening to each other’s demos and then went on making them sound like us. All of us contributed, and it was really great to hear our own compositions come to life.”

And it’s true that the cohesion of this group is impressive, managing to create funk music with European sounds while having a groove as impressive as the best American funk bands. The jazz influences are very deep, the brass is bright, the arrangements truly excellent, and the musicians, once again, create an exceptional album. So let’s let Nils Landgren tell us a bit more:

“Landing in Palma on my birthday, February 15th at 2 pm, we went straight to the studio to set up and get the sound ready for the recordings to start. We just could not wait. Much of the setup had already been done by the studio crew and a few dedicated volunteers, and sooner than anyone thought possible, we could start to record, with the amazing sound engineer Shades leading the whole operation. From that moment on, we all knew that this was going to be a special album. Everything fell into place. The vibe in the studio, the sound, how the guys in the band played, the food being served during the breaks, the taste of the coffee on the rooftop, and the generous dinners after finishing up for the day. To finance the recordings, we had decided to give in-house concerts the last two evenings after recording. Although it meant even longer days for everyone, it was a wonderful feeling to get the chance to test some of the music we had recorded in front of a live audience sitting almost in our laps. It was so rewarding to get feedback from the people who came to our shows. On top of that, we had a film team led by our dear friend Dan Sermand documenting the whole thing.”

Thanks to Dan Sermand for this video, a way to feel that special atmosphere that the musicians describe as “a family.” The warmth that Nils Landgren radiates on stage towards the audience is the same as what he offers to his musicians. This is what can be felt in the music of the Funk Unit, this particular gentleness, a way of delivering the notes, playing their instruments, and of course, this album joins our series of “Essentials,” which is more than deserved. I’ll let Nils Landgren finish:

We all left the island on February 20th with a sense of deep satisfaction, knowing that we had done our best and that our best might be more than just good enough. Only one man stayed behind in Palma: Magnum. Aside from being an extraordinary bassist and singer, he is also the one person by my side who has experienced the entire Funk Unit journey from Live in Stockholm to today. We had decided to mix the album in the same studio, and Shades was not available until a week later. I believe Magnum had a good time, both relaxing and working with the master Shades. The result is this album Raw. Our honest and simple way to create handmade music and to make it enjoyable for both body and soul. We are not just a band. We are Nils Landgren Funk Unit.
Nils & Magnum, Jonas, Andy, Petter et Ikiz”

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, May 20th 2024

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To buy the Raw – CD

Order the Raw – LP version

Find out more about the Funk Unit’s discography, HERE


Nils Landgren Biography


Tracking list:
01 Raw 3:06 Nils Landgren
02 If You Like It 4:14 Petter Bergander
03 In Your Skin 4:50 Andy Pfeiler
04 On the One 3:41 Jonas Wall
05 Funky Feet 3:06 Robert Ikiz
06 Bea’s Bag 3:23 Nils Landgren
07 Believe Everyday 4:37 Magnum Coltrane Price
08 Slam Dunk 3:28 Nils Landgren
09 Raspberry Jam 4:05 Nils Landgren
10 Family 4:08 Pfeiler, Price
11 Walker 3:08 Jonas Wall
12 Los Olivos 3:11 Nils Landgren

The Funk Unit:
Nils Landgren: trombone, vocals
Magnum Coltrane Price: bass, vocals
Andy Pfeiler: guitar, vocals
Jonas Wall: tenor saxophone, bg vocals
Petter Bergander: keyboards, bg vocals
Robert Ikiz: drums, bg vocals

Produced by Nils Landgren and Magnum Coltrane Price
Recorded February 15 – 19 2024 at Palma Music Studios, Mallorca by Rene Shades
Assistant engineer: Louis Mayne-Wheeler Gómez
Recording consultant Funk Unit: Jan Ugand
Mixed at Palma Music Studios by Rene Shades & Magnum Coltrane Price
Studio hosts: Johan Lundgren and Fredrik Thomander
Studio chef: Helle Wikström Studio runner: Sofia Jonani
Mastered at Cosmos Mastering by Hoffe Stanno