World Of Funk - Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra


Dear Michael Eisner, don’t get me wrong. Nobody is arguing that Disneyland isn’t the happiest place on earth, but if you ever thought about upping the groove quotient or ‘pimping your rides’ so to speak, you could do no better than modeling an attraction after Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra – World Of Funk. Just imagine a couple of happy acres where people of every colour, race and creed, resplendent in cultural dress, sing and dance their faces off to deep pockets of funky, 70s-style grooves. Shawn Lee has released ten albums as Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra and his cinematic, fun-loving compositions have proven an excellent fit for motion picture and television scores. There’s nothing particularly revolutionary about a funky compilation of global tunes but World Of Funk benefits from a singular creative hand with a real feel for the kitschier side of worldbeat. The packaging immediately sets the tone, even before the wrapper is ripped. It looks like a faded poster, torn from a wall of the ‘world music’ section in some record store 40 years ago. The selections capture that vibe perfectly. Adding interest are collaborations with some of the more adventurous voices in the genre. The second track, Ghost In The Rain features Clutchy Hopkins and the lovely Chhom Nimol from Dengue Fever. However, it’s an unusually dark start to an otherwise light-hearted throw back. Natacha Atlas lends her shaabi stylings to two tracks and, my personal favorite Nao Vacila is gut-bucket Brazilian with attitude from Curumin, a Sao Paulo percussionist and singer who cut his teeth on pots and pans until he could afford real drums. Afrobeat, Latin and Nu-jazz also make guest appearances on World Of Funk, but the building blocks are strictly Shawn Lee with his groovy instrumentals; a music type that has somehow been mostly overlooked in our ‘Idol’ obsessed world. So, what do you think Mr. Eisner? World Of Funk would be a great place to instill a sense of multi-culti fun in impressionable young minds. I mean, isn’t Disneyland where we learned it’s a small world after all?