After nearly 16 months without live performances, McGill funk band Stop, Drop & Groove delighted students and jazz enthusiasts on Sept. 25 with a return to an in-person show. Crammed into the Quai des Brumes bar, listeners were eager to groove to the blues under the light of a disco ball. Founded by Oz McClamrock and Michael Gorlin, both U2 Music, the band played covers of hit funk songs, though they have recently begun writing original music. While their new album Faraway Places features 34 musicians, 13 performers involved with Stop, Drop & Groove collaborated to usher in a hopeful revival of live music.
The set list included “Get Funky” by Daft Punk, “What is Hip?” by Tower of Power, and the forever iconic “Boogie Wonderland” by Earth, Wind, and Fire. Different members of Stop, Drop & Grove took turns playing adventurous musical solos while the rest of the band crouched out of the way, grinning and clapping. The singers could have easily stolen the show if not for the equally dazzling instrumentalists. Every performer had their chance to shine in the spotlight.
Modifying pieces originally written for a small group to suit 13 players is no easy task. In an interview with The McGill Tribune, McClamrock detailed his process for arranging music.
“I listen to the song, I’ll jot down what I hear in some scoring software, [and then] I’ll harmonize appropriately,” McClamrock explained. “The horns are loyal to the originals, which lays a foundation for the more experimental rhythm and vocal section. People don’t have to play exactly what it is on the records. I think that’s what makes us more interesting, the vocals and the rhythm are really different.”
During the performance, McClamrock occasionally gave visual cues with his hand, leading the band in the right direction. For the most part, however, everyone remained well in sync, perhaps due to band members’ background in music theory—all players are either past or present students in jazz performance at McGill’s Schulich School of Music.
Following the evening of funky covers, fans enamoured with Stop, Drop & Groove can look to the band’s original work for more jazzy tunes. After eight months of recording remotely, they released their first album Faraway Places this past August. The name references the remote production method, since participating musicians were unable to meet in person.
“We started with the drummer. He would play his track alone with a metronome, then he’d send his track off to the bass player, and keyboard, guitar, and build it then send it to the vocals,” Gorlin said. “Everyone was recording in faraway places all around the US, Canada.”
Fans can look forward to Stop, Drop & Groove’s next concert on Oct. 22 at La Petite Marche. Listeners can keep up with the band on Facebook or Instagram.