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Columbus’ own: Funk Worthy revives jazz

Funk Worthy will be touring over the month of Nov., including three dates in Columbus. Credit: Courtesy of Funk Worthy

Funk Worthy, a former jazz quartet turned funk band, has broken out of its jazz roots and dived into groovier territory, adapting a sound inspired by artists such as Marvin Gaye, Sly and the Family Stone and Vulfpeck.

Funk Worthy began in 2015 at Capital University in Bexley, when six music students got together to work on a music project outside of coursework and their respective school ensembles.

Bandleader and saxophonist Chuck Worthy said for the first year or so, the band played jazz standards, but eventually wanted to expand the band’s appeal to a broader range of people.

So, Funk Worthy began to reimagine funk, gospel and rock songs.

“Part of our developing phase [in 2016] was the fact that we wanted to play original music but … we hadn’t sat down and came up with a writing process,” Worthy said. “So we started out in the vein of, I wouldn’t call it a cover band, but we took covers and took a spin on them and made them extremely unique.”

For most of its existence, Funk Worthy’s main focus has been to get themselves in front of people, Worthy said.

“Our first goal always was to get the music to the audience.” Worthy said. “We want them to have a great time, we want to enjoy ourselves onstage and we want them to enjoy watching us.”

Even though a debut album is still in the works, Funk Worthy has made its way around Columbus and the surrounding area, playing in places like Notes, Woodlands Tavern, the late Scarlet and Grey Café and ComFest, which the band played earlier this year.

As far as original music writing and recording goes, guitarist Harrison Belew said the band has found that reinventing old songs and jamming in live performances has had a massive impact on how the it approaches writing original songs.

“We learn a lot through what kinds of things we do with those songs,” Belew said. “[We developed] our own language through doing that.”

Worthy said playing live is essential to Funk Worthy’s songwriting process, where the band will both test out songs they have written to an audience, and stumble upon new ideas when jamming together onstage.

“We’ll practice and then we’ll perform and somebody [in the band] will do something that’s really cool that we didn’t practice.” Worthy said. “That definitely is related to the original writing process because a song can be written and sound one way in the beginning, but at the end, we’ll be like, ‘This isn’t what we started with.’”

At the start of 2018, Funk Worthy hopes to solidify plans to record and release its debut album. The band is also currently on tour, where it will play The Walrus on Saturday, as well as shows at Woodlands Tavern on Nov. 14 and Musica in Akron, Ohio on Nov. 18.

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