You'll definitely find the funk in this fast-moving documentary, which stretches from the genre's pre-James Brown roots all the way up to such modern-day jam-band purveyors as Phish.
It's particularly nice to see proper due given to Horace Silver, Cannonball Adderley and other jazz legends who helped develop funk as a kind of hard-bop subgenre.
Of course, ample time is given to James Brown, who took funk out of its infancy and to the top of the R&B charts beginning in the mid-'60s. Back then, most people weren't yet calling it funk -- but they were sure dancing to it. "We didn't know what it was," explains former Brown sideman Bootsy Collins, the bassist who ranks as one of funk's greatest heroes. "But we were kind of at the forefront of it."
As the movie moves along, chronicling the adventures of such titans as Sly Stone, George Clinton and Prince, it's really fun to see those interviewed struggle to come up with a suitable definition for funk.
"It was R&B for people who couldn't cuss but sounded like they wanted to cuss," says the Bay Area's own Stone. I guess it's up to the viewers to watch this Nelson George-directed film and come up with their own definitions.
"Finding the Funk" is currently scheduled to air in the fall on VH1, with a DVD/Blu-Ray release likely to follow.
Follow Jim Harrington at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic.