“FunkJazz Kafé: Diary Of A Decade (The Story Of A Movement)” Gets A Stellar Review In Total Eclipse Magazine

This is a great article on the forthcoming movie, “FunkJazz Kafé: Diary Of A Decade (The Story Of A Movement)” and it’s producer, writer, director, Jason Orr. Big thanks to Christopher A. Daniels for the penmanship and Total Eclipse Magazine for putting it in the world. They don’t have their magazine articles online ; / so here are hi resolution scans and the transcript for you to read. Enjoy!


FunkJazz Kafé: Diary of a Decade

Words: Christopher A. Daniel, Contributing Writer
(Follow on Twitter: @ Journalistorian or find me on Facebook)

In a musical and cultural landscape constantly bombarded with mediocre talent,
frequent transitions and time sensitive careers, lifestyle visionary; organizer;
humanitarian and soul crusader Jason Orr knew 17 years ago that soul is a timeless
artifact with no such expiration date.

So Oliver Stone’s funk ‘n soul alter ego concocted the ultimate forum known as
FunkJazz Kafé (FJK) — Atlanta’s landmark antithesis to the 808-laden quad and bass
tracks, the slick and syrupy Organized Noize-produced sound, the LaFace Records
musical monopoly, Dallas Austin’s prolific pop appeal and the abundant Jermaine Dupri-
produced charted singles. His legacy and cultural production work is now the subject
of a remarkable documentary, FunkJazz Kafé: Diary of a Decade – The Story of a

Heralded as one of the most memorable yet remarkable festivals of our time since its
1994 inception, FJK is an otherworldly journey to Atlantis where one could experience
then cutting edge artists like Goodie M.O.B. (who Orr notes is the inspiration behind the
film in the first place), Jill Scott (who opens the film), Me’shell N’degeocello, OutKast,
Bilal, Eric Roberson, Janelle Monae (who closes the feature during the ending credits)
and Donnie or even established acts like Raphael Saadiq, Public Enemy, Dionne Farris,
Loose Ends or Joi breaking out in improvised sets (or even just hangin’ out with the rest
of the audience). On top of the memorable (and endless) musical mystery tours, Orr
offers other vehicles: visual artists, health and wellness specialists, healers, dancers
and culinary artists. Seeing FJK’s house band, The Chronicle, and FJK’s logo – the
piano etched within the caption along with blueprints of the stage — come to life are just
added bonuses. It’s quite surreal. To say that FJK is a magic carpet ride would be an

At its best, FunkJazz Kafé: Diary of a Decade – an ironic title in nature — becomes a combined
candid history lesson, an Ivy League musical theory and appreciation course, Black
music ethnomusicology, impressive critical and cultural studies research, a landmark
Emmy (and Peabody Award-savvy) PBS special, an intense genealogical study and an
nostalgic investigation through any of our parents (or grandparents’) album collections
(not to mention, Orr does this a lot of justice throughout the film). In many cases a fine
investigative journalism piece, Orr magnificently manages to analyze and introduce the
audience to black music subgenres and cultural work undergoing just as many drastic
changes as the four seasons: in some cases going virtually under the radar. An avid

fan of bands and musicians at the prime of their careers throughout the 1970s and ‘80s,
Orr visually develops the blueprint before our very eyes that captures this curiosity and
longing. Considering many of this generation’s forefathers and pioneering voices make
the argument that no one stands for anything of substance, Orr defies these odds to
resurrect such an impulse.

“Everything’s so packaged,” he says. “We didn’t want everything necessarily to be

so packaged. We didn’t subscribe to categories like neo-soul. Corporations did that.
That’s the kind of talent we have here, and that’s something to be proud of. They need
a place to go and to cultivate it, and that’s what I’ve created. My vision was to enrich the
community globally. ”

In the ever-evolving fertile land of black music, Orr is soul’s answer to Benjamin
Banneker. FJK’s brainchild knows balance in his airtime. From the influences of James
Brown (considered in one segment to be “the Bible of Music”), George Clinton, Roy
Ayers, Sly Stone and the infancy of hip hop culture all setting the tone for what was to
come, transAtlantic influences such as Loose Ends (who Orr actually tracks down in
London on camera after a 13 year hiatus from performing), Fela Kuti, Omar and Brand
New Heavies become a part of the conversation on camera. In the midst of seeing
Orr’s name and the FJK brand manifest, external forces and issues surrounding white
supremacy, commercialism, corporate self-interest, record company politics, agenda
setting, commodification, the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, music genre categorization (i.e
urban alternative, alternative hip hop and neo-soul) and the Internet and technological
determinism segues into the dialogue: further establishing how soul music and culture
are continuously tested and faces playing victim to potential genocide.

Craig Love, Diary of a Decade’s associate producer and musical cohort in their
offspring – Soul Of Earth, emphasizes that Orr is quite a thorough brother unlike any
other. “It’s easy for people to figure out how to take the shortest – the easy route,”
he says. “There’s no foundation in that. The end product will be bigger. He got really

focused on what he needed to do, and I saw him detoxify his environment to make
something like FunkJazz Kafé happen. Atlanta is so much more well-rounded than what
you see in the mainstream. It runs fast and most people don’t have the patience to let
that other side shine, and Jason cares enough to show everyone else.”

Orr is our hero – relying on the commentaries, explications and candid appearances
from some major talent and voices: Dr. Cornel West, Erykah Badu, Roy Ayers, Kevin
Powell, Dick Gregory, Caron Wheeler, Sticman (of Dead Prez), Anthony David, Dallas
Austin, Andre 3000, Common, MC Lyte, Talib Kweli, Chuck D., Joi Gilliam, Ray Murray
(of Organized Noize), Dionne Farris, Jamie Foxx, Lil’ John Roberts, N’Dea Davenport,
Doug E. Fresh, Cee-Lo Green, Vinnie Bernard, Professor Griff, Speech (of Arrested

Development), Jamal Ahmad and Orr (of course).

For those of us that never had such an opportunity to see FJK in its fullest dimensions,
Diary of a Decade is an amazing saga that does not fail to bring one up to speed. “You
got a mass body of people who feel a part of something,” he says. “They really feel

ownership – an emotional tie to something they truly believe in. They support it and
stay with it. That’s an honor. Different people like different things about it. You got more
than one discipline of the arts to get involved with. When you do that, you get so many
people subscribing to what you’re doing. You want to stay with that or learn more about

I state in another review on FJK: Diary of a Decade for the UK’s premier black music
publication, Blues & Soul Magazine, that Orr – who I also proclaim in type is a social
theorist, genius and modern day organizer whose purpose is to give people something
unique and memorable — proves without a shadow of a doubt that soul music is not
genre specific. Let alone, FJK is a once-in-a-lifetime experience be imitated, duplicated
or revised even if attempted; this will always hold as my stance on Orr’s contributions to
Atlanta, film, music, the community and last but not least — soul.

It’s been four years since the last installment of FJK, and “the Oliver Stone of funk” is
still optimistic about his future. “Let’s see how the tape ends. I’m still in the adventure.

This is the thing you do to bring more credibility and credence to the brand so that
people will have a different understanding of what it is. I hope people will visit the
website (www.funkjazzkafe.com), leave comments and let me know what they’re
thoughts are.”

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