Kool and the Gang used the science of sound to ride the rhythm with this jungle jazz funk festival. Robert “Kool” Bell and his brother Ronald started the group in 1964 with neighborhood friends Robert “Spike” Mickens, Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, Ricky Westfield, George Brown, and Charles Smith in Jersey City. They started out as the Jazziacs, (as well as The New Dimensions, The Soul Town Band, and Kool & The Flames) before becoming Kool and the Gang and signing with Gene Redd on De-Lite Records in 1969.
Kool remembers: "We started with jazz, and we were playing places where people like McCoy Tyner were playing, and then we got going with an organization called Soul Town. In the Soul Town Revue, we were the Soul Town band. We would have to back up all the local groups, and they would sing all the Motown hits. What happened was, we would have to learn all those songs, and we started mixing the jazz with the R&B...Gene Redd was a producer who had worked with Quincy Jones. He was our first manager, and he was the one, when we changed our name from Kool and the Flames to Kool and the Gang — we had to change that because James Brown had the Famous Flames, and we didn't want to have any problem with The Godfather — who kinda discovered us. His father, Gene Redd Sr., used to be a road manager for James Brown. Gene Redd had a pending deal with De-Lite Records, and had a company called Red Coach Records. He first signed us to Red Coach and then he did a deal with De-Lite for the very first Kool and the Gang album. Gene got us more into the commercial side — we were still doing the jazzy thing."
They developed their blend of funk, jazz, and soul over seven albums (Kool & the Gang in 1969, Live at the Sex Machine and Live at P.J.'s in 1971, Music Is the Message and Good Times in 1972, Wild and Peaceful in 1973, and Light of Worlds in 1974) with eleven top forty hits on the the R&B chart, including crossover classics like "Funky Stuff", "Jungle Boogie", "Hollywood Swinging" and "Higher Plane".
'Spirit of the Boogie' was written and produced by Kool and the Gang with arrangements by Ronald Bell. The sessions took place at at Media Sound Studios in New York City and featured Kevin Bell on guitar; Ronald Bell on piano, arranger, sax (tenor), vocals, clavinet, kalimba, and arp; Robert "Kool" Bell on bass and vocals; Donal Boyce on vocals; George "Funky" Brown on percussion, piano, drums, and vocals; Robert "Spike" Mickens on percussion, trumpet, flugelhorn, and vocals; Otha Nash on trombone and vocals; Dennis "D.T." Thomas on flute, alto sax, and vocals; Ricky West vocals and clavinet; Claydes E.X. Smith on guitar; and background vocals by Something Sweet. Engineering was done by Godfrey Diamond, Harvey Goldberg, Ron Saint Germain, Alec Head, Ray Janos, and Terry Rosiello. The album went to number forty-eight on the pop album chart, eighteen on the jazz album chart, and number five on the R&B album chart.
Kool considers: "Over the years you have all kinds of boogies. In the '40s and '50s it was the boogie-woogie, you know, and then in the '70s we came out with a hit called "Jungle Boogie.” So we try to continue the spirit of the boogie, which was just a dance spirit that happens on the dance floor....Music is our message and we seek love and understanding around the world. In fact, we have a song called "Music Is the Message." We also have a song called "Love and Understanding." We support various charities ... I guess you could say our mission statement is humanitarian."
"Spirit of the Boogie" became their third R&B chart topper and went to number thirty-five on the pop chart.
'Spirit of the Boogie'
01. Spirit Of The Boogie 0:00
02. Ride The Rhythm 4:53
03. Jungle Jazz 7:56
04. Sunshine And Love 12:35
05. Ancestral Ceremony 16:20
06. Mother Earth 20:00
07. Winter Saddness 2 5:42
08. Caribbean Festival 30:47