Back in the days everything started with the Breaks: Break sections of different records were put together and played on and on to make the B-Girls/B-Boys dance.

A break in a funk, soul, rock or any other type of song featuring funky drums is mostly build upon a drum solo where the percussive rhythms are most aggressive, hard driving and sometimes supplemented by other instruments (bass guitar, congas, bongas,..).

Still nowadays the most famous and played records on B-Boying events and in practicing spots are records from that time when everything started (60ies & 70ies).

The Incredible Bongo Band’s “Apache” is simply legendary in the world of dance music. The track is not only one of the most sampled tracks of all time and a staple for Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash at the Bronx block parties of the ’70s, it has become an all-time b-boying anthem and is revered as the original break of all original breaks.

Michael Viner formed the Bongo Band as a loose, informal conglomerate of musicians (Jim Gordon on drums and King Errisson on percussion) who came together to record the soundtrack of an blaxploitation movie called “The Thing with the two Heads” or percussive versions of established pop classics from The Shadows “Apache” to Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” and the Rolling Stones “Satisfaction”.

The status of The Incredible Bongo Band was comparable with James Last records in Europe till DJs like Kool Herc used some tracks in their mixes. Nowadays “Apache” can be found on every good funk/b-boy compilation.

Bongo Rock (Pride 1973)
The Return of the Incredible Bongo Band (Pride 1974)

Jimmy Castor (born June 2, 1943) is a singer, writer, arranger, saxophonist, percussionist, and producer in one person. With the exception of James Brown, no other performer’s music has weathered the changes in R&B over the last 40 years as well as Jimmy Castors. From the street-corner harmonies of Sugar Hill to the scratching turntables of today, Castor’s music has been in the limelight for almost four decades now.

In 56′, Jimmy, who lived in Harlem NY, formed his own vocal-group “Jimmy & The Juniors” (Al Casey Jr. singing bass, Johnny Williams, tenor, and Orton Graves, baritone). The group cutted two discs before they splitted up in early 57′. From now on, Jimmy managed, produced, formed, signed different groups, these were the years where he learned very much about the music business (studios and clubs, talents and musicians, labels, recording sessions…), that’s why he got the nickname “The Everything Man”.

Castor recorded a few singles for different labels like My Brothers, Jet Set, Decca and Smash. By 1966 there was a new sound in Harlem; doo-wop was out. The new sound, inspired by the large and growing Puerto Rican population of Harlem, was Latin soul. Castors answer to this new direction was one of the all-time great New York Latin soul discs – “Hey, Leroy, Your Mama’s Callin’ You.” “Hey, Leroy” was and is irresistible, with its fat melodic bass line, descending piano triplets, timbales, and conga grooves, wailing sax, and call-and-response refrain”go to yo’ mama, go to yo’ mama.”

By this time the “The Jimmy Castor Bunch” were the NY-Uptown heroes, and in addition to Jimmy on sax, timbales, and vocals were Gerry Thomas on trumpet and piano, Harry Jensen on guitar, Lenny Fridle, Jr., on congas, and old Harlem doo-wop buddy Doug “Bubs” Gibson on bass. Their first LP “It’s Just Begun” was released in March 1972, followed by the single, “Troglodyte (Cave Man)”.

It’s Just Begun is Castor’s masterpiece, the most fully realized example of his vision. In addition to tapping into his doo-wop and Latin soul roots, “The Jimmy Castor Bunch” had developed a funky groove, with thumping, slapping bass, fuzz-tone guitar, and layered percussion. “Troglodyte (Cave Man)” which exemplifies this, was one of the monster records of ’72, rising to #6 on the pop charts by May of that year, as well as being one of the discs that refined that coining funk explosion of the mid -70s. Opening with a spoken word introduction (which would become a favorite sample of DJ Afrika Bambataa at New York’s Roxy disco) “There was a time when men lived in caves…. Now we’re gonna go back, way back . . cave men, cave women, Neanderthal, Troglodyte!” the groove fades in and Castor begins the wild tale of primitive love. It’s funny, menacing, and funkier than anything that had come before it.

“It’s Just Begun” has never been issued as a single but remains one of Castor’s best-known classics. The track turned up in “Flashdance” and “Beat Street” in the film’s big break dance “battle” scenes. It also can be found as a sample on countless rap discs and is heard on the dance floor to this day (thanks to many bootleg 12″ singles that made the rounds in the ’80s).

The Jimmy Castor Bunch cut two more LPs for RCA in 1972 and 1973, in 1974 they switched to Atlantic and in 1979 to Cotillion, a sublabel of Atlantic.

In 1993 appearance at New York City’s Sounds Of Brazil nightclub from the re-formed Jimmy Castor Bunch proved, Jimmy Castor is still youthful in his early fifties. Check his own website out:

It’s just begun (RCA LP, 72)
Phase II (RCA LP)
Dimension III (Atlantic LP)
Butt of course (Atlantic LP, 74)
Supersound (Atlantic LP, 75)
Bertha butt boogie (Atlantic, 74)
The everything man (Atlantic, 74)
King kong (part 1) (Atlantic, 75)
Potential (Atlantic, 75)
Supersound / Drifting (Atlantic, 75)
Bom bom (Atlantic, 76)
I love a mellow groove (Atlantic, 76)
E-man boogie (Atlantic, 76)
Everything is beautiful to me (WEA, 79)

Today’s music (such as rap or techno) is based on the roots of James Brown’s funky people and their records of the late 60ies and 70ies.

The most common criteria for breakbeats are clear drums and percussion in a 4/4 measure. The snare usually plays on 2 and 4 (so 1 2 3 4). Nearly all breakbeats descend from the breaks on James Brown records, where he goes crying and shouting and the band stops. Basically, a breakbeat is the beat in that break. James Brown’s drummers (like John “Stabo” Starks or Clyde “the funky drummer” Stubblefield) have historically created syncopated beats (i.e. off the measure), very often, around the third beat.

One of the first such beat was James Browns “Give it up or turn it a loose” from 1968, this original version (that’s not the one everybody thinking of with the “clap your hands, stomp your feet” break) was the base inspiration for the original hit version of “Sex machine”. James then re-recorded both songs for the lp.

The other version was recorded on july 22nd 1970 at the King Studios in Cincinnati, Ohio. The musicians were: James Brown (vocals), Bobby Byrd (organ), Darryl Jamison and Clayton Gunnells (trumpets), Robert McCollough (tenor sax), Phelps Collins (guitar), William Collins (bass), Clyde Stubblefield (drums) and Johnny Griggs (congas).

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(Resources: Thanks to Pesa!! Check his site for even more info: