From the first note of Ginger Beef’s take on the 1971 Dutch rock hit, “Hocus Pocus”, it’s evident that we’re in for a fusion-filled treat. Seamlessly blending the worlds of funk and jazz fusion, this rendition is equal parts daring and delightful, replete with energetic grooves and mind-bending virtuosity.
It’s not an easy feat to transform a rock track, especially one so iconic, into a genre-bending masterpiece, but Ginger Beef manages it with audacious flair. Drawing inspiration from acclaimed artists like Vulfpeck, Herbie Hancock, and Jacob Mann Big Band, this rendition showcases their unique flair for melding genres and creating something refreshingly new. The homage paid to the original is palpable, but Ginger Beef has undeniably cooked up their own flavor here.
Jiajia Li’s unparalleled skill on both the western and Chinese flutes is the highlight, truly shining in this piece. Her classical training and Beijing roots shine through every note, culminating in a performance that feels like a thrilling roller coaster ride through a myriad of cultures and sounds. To describe her playing as “shredding” might seem odd for a flutist, but in this context, it’s incredibly apt.
MSG’s vision of Ginger Beef as a ‘funky Van Halen’ feels more than validated, especially when one considers his inspiration for this cover. As he said, the song embodies their “unofficial thesis as a band” – virtuosic, slightly unhinged, and irresistibly catchy. The foundational support from R&B and jazz maestros like slap-funk bassist Dave Lewis, and drummers Orlando Retana, JD Johnson, and Steve Jackson solidifies the track, offering a depth of groove that is impossible to ignore.
What’s incredibly evident is the mutual respect every musician has for one another in this ensemble. Each gets their moment in the spotlight, allowing for a multi-layered listening experience where new nuances can be discovered upon each replay.
For those familiar with the original “Hocus Pocus” by Focus, Ginger Beef’s rendition might come as a surprise. But it’s a pleasant one. They’ve successfully taken a rock classic, sprinkled their own jazz-fusion and funk spices, and presented a dish that, while rich in nostalgia, is also brimming with originality.
In conclusion, “Hocus Pocus” is more than just a single – it’s a promise of what’s to come. If this is just the appetizer, then fans are undoubtedly salivating for the main course that is Ginger Beef’s debut album. In an era where instrumental pop could easily fade into obscurity, Ginger Beef is here to ensure it roars back into the mainstream with panache and gusto.