Funk-fusion band Kung Fu will be playing Wednesday at Hodi’s Half Note. Kung Fu’s style merges the sounds of Weather Report and Head Hunters with a contemporary EDM-informed sensibility.
Kung Fu is comprised of guitarist Tim Palmieri, tenor saxophone player Robert Somerville, keyboard player Beau Sasser, bassist Chris DeAngelis and percussionist Adrian Tramontano. The members take turns on vocals.
Tramontano said he became interested in playing the drums at an early age. He taught himself the instrument by playing along to tapes of bands like Motley Crue, Metallica and Def Leppard.
“I was 10 when I started playing drums,” Tramontano said. “My father had a band and I used to go to his band practices and sit behind the drummer to watch him play. Then I just started picking up cans and pots and started banging on them.
Tramontano said he would sit in with his father’s band at the age of 12 before he started a band in high school with Palmieri.
“We were in a band called Mocha Jam together in the mid-90s,” Tramontano said. “We did a lot of shows and got a lot of experience. It was more like contemporary jazz and saxophone-led, almost like Chick Corea Elektric Band but not nearly as complicated.”
As Tramontano played more jazz his influences geared towards drummers like Dave Weckl, Dennis Chambers and Omar Hakim.
“I just became obsessed with how good they were,” Tramontano said. “Then I learned about old school dudes like Elvin Jones, Jack DeJohnette, Tony Williams. So, I started listening to that music a lot and whatever I’d hear I’d mimic and get in the vibe of what’s happening.”
Tramontano describes Kung Fu’s sound as action packed.
“It’s really fun to play,” Tramontano said. “I’ve always loved fusion music, so it’s got that. It’s definitely funky. I never play the same thing twice. Arrangement, yes, but whatever I’m feeling I put a twist on that night. It’s faster tempo. We play slow stuff too, but it’s a really active, busy band.”
Initially Kung Fu was more of an instrumental band. Tramontano said the band decided to add vocals to their music as time went on.
“When we first got together we weren’t really playing to do anything,” Tramontano said. “We were just playing fusion together on Monday nights, like Herbie Hancock stuff. All of a sudden we realized a lot of people were coming to these shows and we should keep them interested by singing.”
Tramontano said Kung Fu tours about one hundred days out of the year. They have shared the stage with bands such as Umphrey’s McGee, Lotus and Lettuce.
Kung Fu’s current tour, “The Fez Tour,” consists of one set of original material and another set of Steely Dan covers. Tramontano said they will play new songs on this tour including one about a fake girl scout who scams Cookie Monster out of cookies.
Taylor Ybarra, a longtime fan since Kung Fu’s 2011 self-titled album, will be seeing them for the first time next week.
“I’m so excited for this show,” Ybarra said. “There’s no way I’m missing this one. I’ve watched a lot of their live videos on YouTube. It seems like a really great time. I love how crazy and complex their structures are. They could take a turn at any moment. It keeps the music entertaining.”
Kung Fu is playing Wednesday, April 12 at Hodi’s Half Note with special guest Jaden Carlson Band. The doors open at 8 p.m.
Collegian reporter Jonny Rhein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jonnyrhein.