The Funk Ark

A native of the Washington D.C. area, composer Will Rast has worked as an instrumentalist across a range of genres. Currently Antibalas’ keyboard player, other collaborators have included Mya, Federico Aubele, Thievery Corporation and Ocote Soul Sounds.

He began composing and playing professionally at the age of 14 and learned the art of jazz improvisation as a student of world-renowned pianist Fred Hersch in New York. A wide range of instrumental jazz styles, coupled with a love of vintage funk and soul, were the impetus behind the formation of The Funk Ark in 2007.

Drawing from D.C.’s fast growing community of talented instrumentalists, Rast was able to form a band big enough to create the range of sound he was looking for. Early compositions were reminiscent of Lonnie Liston Smith, or Herbie Hancock, but Rast's growing interest in the Afrobeat music of Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Mono Mono, of Nigeria, Mulatu Astatke and Mahmoud Ahmed of Ethiopia, and the legendary salsa ensemble The Fania Allstars, soon caused a directional shift towards a more polyrhythmic funk sound.

The first two Funk Ark records were released on the Thievery Corporation’s label ESL Music, the second of which, High Noon, produced critical acknowledgment that the group were forerunners in the resurgence of the Afrobeat genre. The third album Man is a Monster (released on Ropeadope Records in 2014) is a collection of songs composed during a two-year period of intensive travelling for Rast. The songs were conceived in a spirit of exploration, in a global sense, but also of musical and technical ability. Its eclectic sound reflects the many influences and experiences of the group, as well as Rast’s intent to take the emphasis away from traditional 4/4 rhythms and channel those influences into something deeper and more challenging than his previous work.

Carthage Music administers Will Rast’s copyrights worldwide.