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Masterlink Sessions | The Instrumentals | Vol 1

Masterlink Sessions | The instrumentals | Vol 1 | 100% live in the studio
Masterlink Sessions | The instrumentals | Vol 1

Masterlink Sessions | The Instrumentals | Vol 1

The Masterlink Sessions proudly present ‘The Instrumentals | Vol 1’ – our first compilation of funkified instrumentals. Performed by the Masterlink Sessions studio band (A.K.A. Redtenbacher’s Funkestra) featuring invited guest musicians.


Here are the credits for each song. What pleasure to create music with all these incredibly talented musicians, or ‘cats’ as we like to call them. They all came out for their love of music and played their hearts out. We want to make sure every single person is credited for offering up their musical gift.

1 Boogie on Reggae Woman | ft. Piers Green (saxophone)

Watch the Masterlink Sessions video HERE.

{Stefan} At the time of recording this Stevie Wonder classic was also very popular with Vulfpeck fans. Saxophonist Piers Green was influenced by a Larry Goldings/David Sanborn (we love his Sanborn Sessions, of course) version and we took it from there. We created a mash up of their version and Larry Golding‘s ‘If you want me to stay’ recording. A very joyful rendition!

{James} One of my favourite Masterlink Sessions – back in the early days when we were finding our feet and Stefan was arranging funk versions of some seriously good tunes, what a groove this song has! From a recording point of view I had found a good compromise between having the musicians close and without headphones but not having too much spill on the mics. I was still very much in the ‘drums must be in mono!’ phase.

  • Piers Green | saxophone
  • Mike Outram | guitar
  • Stefan Redtenbacher | bass
  • Ross Stanley | Hammond organ
  • Mike Sturgis | drums

‘Boogie on Woman’ written by Stevie Wonder. Arranged and produced by Piers Green & Stefan Redtenbacher.

2 Everywhere | ft. Leo Appleyard (guitar)

Watch the Masterlink Sessions video HERE.

{Stefan} Guitarist and producer Leo Appleyard joined the Funkestra collective after our long-standing guitarist Eran Kender went on a sabbatical of undefined length. This was our very FIRST instrumental Masterlink Sessions video. Late 2018 or 2019 I think. Leo suggested this tune and we gave this Fleetwood Mac classic a make-over in a sort of a Staxs style.

{James} Our first ever Masterlink Session recording (we released ‘Move Over’ first but we recorded ‘Everywhere’ first). This was a real departure for me in terms of recording. Mono overhead on the drums, very damped drums (tea towel on snare drum) and everyone playing really quietly! I had to do lots of post production to get ‘the sound’ I was looking for.

  • Leo Appleyard | guitar
  • Stefan Redtenbacher | bass
  • Mike Sturgis | Drums
  • Stevie Watts | Hammond organ

‘Everywhere‘ written by Fleetwood Mac. Arranged and produced by Leo Appleyard & Stefan Redtenbacher.

3 Gravy Train | ft. Nigel Price (guitar)

Watch the Masterlink Sessions video HERE.

{Stefan} Well-known and respected Jazz guitarist Nigel Price is someone I always wanted to jam with. He was totally up for doing a Masterlink Sessions vidoe with us and we were more than pleased to play on of his originals.  Also great to bring him and veteran UK guitarist Tony Remy together. They have known each other for decades but never actually played together. Both brilliant and totally different in style. More please!

{James} Recorded in March 2020, this was the first time we had Nigel Price (guitar) in the studio alongside Tony Rémy, what a powerhouse! This was recorded in a more traditional way with stereo drum overheads and the mix definitely lent more towards a more open, roomy sound than our first sessions which were very dry.

  • Karl Vanden Bossche | percussion
  • Joe Glossop | Hammond organ
  • Nigel Price | guitar
  • Stefan Redtenbacher | bass
  • Tony Remy | guitar
  • Mike Sturgis | drums
  • Vasilis Xenopoulos | saxophone

‘Gravy Train’ written by Nigel Price. Arranged and produced by Nigel Price & Stefan Redtenbacher.

4 It’s on | ft. Piers Green (Saxophone

Watch the Masterlink Sessions video HERE.

{Stefan} Long-standing Funkestra collective member Piers Green suggested this George Duke gem as his featured tune. We absolutely loved playing this – we think this is clearly evident when watching the video. See for yourselves.

{James} Recorded at the same time as ‘Boogie On Reggae Woman’, I opted to have the saxophone less prominent on this track. Still though, the drum and bass groove here is fantastic. I remember sampling a kick drum from a well known band to augment Mike’s 18” kick drum!

  • Leo Appleyard | guitar
  • Stefan Redtenbacher | bass
  • Mike Sturgis | Drums
  • Stevie Watts | Hammond organ

‘It’s On’ written by George Duke. Arranged and produced by Leo Appleyard & Stefan Redtenbacher.

5 Move Over | ft. Stevie Watts (Hammond organ)

Watch the Masterlink Sessions video HERE.

{Stefan} I first met Hammond organ player Stevie Watts when fellow organist Rich Milner suggested him as a substitue for the Stacks Band. A wonderful and soulful player who can also ‘kick it hard’ on the Hammond suggested this Janis Joplin classic. This was our second ever Masterlink Sessions video. It paved be path for future things to come.

{James} Our first official Masterlink Session featuring Stevie Watts on the organ. I am a complete self-proclaimed Hammond geek. I’ve wanted a Hammond organ since I first heard ‘Green Onions’ by Booker T and the MGs. What a privilege to have Stevie Watts come over and play the Hammond in the studio. He really explored the full capacity of the organ, utilising the drawbars, leslie and swell pedal to really create a dynamic sound.

  • Leo Appleyard | guitar
  • Stefan Redtenbacher | bass
  • Mike Sturgis | Drums
  • Stevie Watts | Hammond organ

‘Move Over’ written by Janis Joplin. Arranged and produced by Stevie Watts & Stefan Redtenbacher.

6 House of the Rising Sun | ft. Nat Martin (guitar)

Watch the Masterlink Sessions video HERE.

{Stefan} We’ve known formidable guitarist Nat Martin for a long time. It felt only naturaly to invite him to create a Masterlink Sessions video with us. He popped around to my house and we wrote an arrangement of the Animals classic ‘House of the Rising Sun’. We think it came out great and what a real treat for Nat (an all of us) that jazz guitarist legend Steve Khan picked up on it and wrote about it, including a transcription! Simply epic. Check it our HERE.

{James} A very cool take on a traditional tune. I remember exploring with quite an obvious room sound on this mix with Nat Martin’s very lyrical playing nodding his hat to Robben Ford. I was referencing Robben’s ‘Truth’ album whilst mixing this.

In the blurb for the YouTube video, it states the following: “I think guitarist Robben Ford was looking over our shoulder putting this one together.” Well, even if Robben has been a big influence for Nat Martin – to me, Nat sounds like himself, and attacks the instrument and the blues the way one should do it. I can only send him a big salute, and one huge, “BRAVO!” from across the pond.” (Steve Khan)

  • Nat Martin | guitar
  • David Leisser | Drums
  • Stefan Redtenbacher | bass
  • Stevie Watts | Hammond organ

‘House of the Rising Sun’ written by Alan Price/Traditional. Arranged and produced by Nat Martin & Stefan Redtenbacher.

7 Shiver Me Timbers | ft. Ross Stanley (Hammond organ)

{Stefan} I always loved Tom Waits ever since my late friend Wolfgang Haas introduced me to ‘Swordfish Trombones’.  Taking one of his tunes to our trio was a real treat. Check out Ross Stanley‘s masterful Hammond organ playing – the tag at the end of the tune – sublime! He is really one of a kind.

{James} What can I say about Ross Stanley? He is an absolute MONSTER hammond organ player (and all other keys really). No words can really describe Ross’ intuition and flare whilst playing the Hammond. It is a joy to behold. Just a trio this time with Mike Sturgis on drums and Stefan on bass.

Watch the Masterlink Sessions video HERE.

  • Stefan Redtenbacher | bass
  • Ross Stanley | Hammond organ
  • Mike Sturgis | Drums

‘Shiver me timbers’ written by Tom Waits Arranged and produced by Ross Stanley & Stefan Redtenbacher.

8 No Way | ft. Vasilis Xenopoulos (Saxophone)

Watch the Masterlink Sessions video HERE.

{Stefan} Vasilis Xenopoulos is an absolute Jazz saxophonist powerhouse. Our path has crossed before on a few ocassions and were delighted when guitarist Nigel Price brought him to one of our Masterlink Sessions. ‘No Way’ – a riveting tune by guitarist Boogaloo Joe Jones probably wins the price for the ‘fastest’ funk jam we recorded so far. Fun(k) was defintely had!

{James} Recorded in the same session as ‘Gravy Train’ and this time featuring saxophone from Vasilis Xenopoulos. Vasilis has a great tone which I captured with my classic AKG 414 EB (silver) to really get the sizzling top end of his tenor saxophone.

  • Karl Vanden Bossche | percussion
  • Joe Glossop | Hammond organ
  • Nigel Price | guitar
  • Stefan Redtenbacher | bass
  • Tony Remy | guitar
  • Mike Sturgis | drums
  • Vasilis Xenopoulos | saxophone

‘No Way’ written by ‘Boogaloo’ Joe Jones. Arranged and produced by Vasilis Xenopoulos & Stefan Redtenbacher.

9 Squid Exit Music | ft. Dave Limina (Hammond organ)

Watch the Masterlink Sessios video HERE.

{Stefan} Berklee chair of the piano department and Hammond organ player extraordinaire Dave Limina brought this tune to the band for the recording of Redtenbacher’s Funkestra ‘The Hang’. ‘The Hang’ has since become of of the Funkestra’s most successful album, for a while it was even on top of the charts of he weekly top 50 Funk album chart according to the Roots Music Report.

The 7″ radio edit of ‘Squid Exit Music’ along has clocked up over 200k streams and features on the official Spotify Jazz Funk playlist. This Masterlink Sessions version is from the same recording session in a different guise. Saxophone Tucker Antell had to fly back to Boston but we had some studio time left to film a shortened version. And this is precisely what you are going to hear on this sampler. Please note – this one is not a cover rather than Dave’s original – we thought it fits rather well with all the other songs.

{James} In 2019 Stefan and his Funkestra recorded ‘The Hang’ at Masterlink Studio and we decided while Dave Limina (Hammond Organ) was over from Boston we should capture him on film playing one of his compositions ’Squid Exit Music’. Another fine example of fabulous Hammond organ playing.

  • Karl Vanden Bossche | percussion
  • Dave Limina | Hammond organ
  • Mike Outram| guitar
  • Stefan Redtenbacher | bass
  • Mike Sturgis | Drums

‘Squid Exit Music’ written by Dave Limina. Arranged and produced by Dave Limina & Stefan Redtenbacher.

10 Crawdaddy | ft. Pete Billington (Piano, Viola)

Watch the Masterlink Sessions video HERE.

{Stefan} Perhaps needless to say, yet – we are all big Larry Goldings fans. His creative output on Hammond (and piano) has been a source of inspiration for a long time. As of recent – absolutely delightful to see and her the ‘Scary Pockets’ records – with guest artists Mono Neon, Lee Sklar, John Scofield and Robben Ford. What a great concept by Scary Pockets to augment their fantastic collective with the greats from a different generation. Big respect and long may it last!

Pete, a multi-instrumentalist in the true sense (keyboards, guitar, electric and double bass, viola) has been a long-standing member of the Funkestra collective. When I approached him about a Masterlink Sessions he proposed this Larry track. I had to bend his arm a little bit to also play viola – we think it was well worth it! Listen for yourselves.

{James} First time we used the piano in the studio. It was bit a tricky with spill from the drums as I like to record the piano with the omnidirectional mics and at a fair distance (+50cm) so there were a lot of drums on the piano mics, if you listen closely you can hear a lot of room tone. But actually, in the end I quite liked it as it was a departure from some of the more compressed and processed mixes I had done previously. Also first time having a viola as well!

  • Leo Appleyard | guitar
  • Pete Billington | Piano, viola
  • Stefan Redtenbacher | bass
  • Mike Sturgis | Drums

‘Crawdaddy’ written by Larry Goldings. Arranged and produced by Pete Billington & Stefan Redtenbacher.


  • All songs recorded, mixed and mastered by James Welch at Masterlink Productions
  • All video filmed and edited by Leo Mansell
  • All songs produced or co-produced and arranged  or co-arranged by Stefan Redtenbacher
  • Thank you to Rob Blackham (Blackham Images) for all the fantastic photographs taken over the years
  • Graphic design by Stefan Redtenbacher, yet not possible without the help of Neil J Hart

The backstory

James Welch (Masterlink Productions) and Stefan Redtenbacher (Redtenbacher’s Funkestra, RSB Records) first bonded over their passion for vintage keyboards, in particular the Hammond organ. One of their first projects was the EP recording for British-Austrian Funk band Backwood Five ‘Brother Joe’s Garage’. Then they also bonded over mid-tempo funk grooves…

After more recording sessions (e.g. Redtenbacher’s FunkestraPart of Me’ with young and blue-eyed soul singer Helena May) James and Stefan thought it was time to set up something on a more regular basis and criticially film the recording sessions in the studio. No better man than call on long-standing friend and brilliant music videographer Leo Mansell. Leo and Stefan have worked together for years – Leo was the videographer for Stefan and Eran’s MusicEd Tech start-up KnowledgeRocks as well the regular Funk nights at the Farncombe Tavern organised by the Funkestra.

Once Leo came on board we were ready to go. Our first Masterlink Sessions video ever was with vocalist Helena May. A re-imagination of the Nora Jones classic ‘Don’t Know Why’. This was in December 2018. From there on we were building our community, starting with the inner circle of the Funkestra collective and steadliy branching out – not only in terms of guest but also in terms of style. The overall musical direction of the Funkestra was pretty clear up to this point – Funk & Jazz in all sort of guises, mostly instrumental. All of which we still love as much as on the first day. We simply expanded on the styles and artists we were creating music with, after all, everybody in the band can boast an international resumé in all sorts of genres.

Now the musical collective was playing Blues, Soul, R’n’B, Pop, America, singer-songwriter and even touching on country music. It’s all good to us!

On the back of 100+ Masterlink Sessions videos we have recorded singles, EP and albums and music videos as well as establishing ‘Live at Masterlink’ – live-streamed concerts with or without an audience with our streaming parter True Live. In Feb 2021 we also started the Masterlink Podcast to server our community, talking to new and old friends. Listen HERE. ‘Getting to know creatives in the music industry’ is our motto and so far we had a lot of fun doing them as well as being inspired and also getting a feel of the Zeitgeit in the creative community.

Since Dec 2018 the MLS team created videos with UK royality Hamish Stuart (Average White Band, Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band), Grammy award winner Mike Farris, Blessing Annatolia – winner of the UK The Voice, Mutya Buena from girl super-group Sugababes, worldwide million-seller vocalist Rumer, established artists like Sarah Jane Morris, Jo Harman and a group of seriously talented and upcoming artists like Connor Selby, Jade Like The Stone, Jana Varga, Elles Bailey, Georgia van Etten, Hollie Rogers, Mim Grey, Eddy Smith & Mike Mayfield to name but a few.

Special thanks to one of our key partners Mark Ede from the BiGiAm agency – we hugely appreciate the introductions!

Your support | Patreon | BuyMeACoffee

If you want to support our Masterlink Sessions videos with invited guests on a regular basis and get some exclusive perks like weekly vodcasts and exclusive video previews – join us on Patreon HERE.

If you want to support us without a monthly commitment you simply could buy us one or a few cup of coffees via BuyMeACoffee HERE.

You could also download/stream our Masterlink Sessions audio releases on Bandcamp HERE or buy a live-in-the room ticket on WeGotTickets for our ‘Live at Masterlink’ monthly shows or watch from home via our live streaming channel on True Live HERE.

Our support | Save the Children

The last quarter of 2020 (in the middle of the pandemic) we wired £1,000 to Save the Children UK. We collected the proceeds of our audio releases to this charity, spearheaded by the Masterlink All Stars remote video ‘You can’t Always Get What you Want’. All the musicians were on board with helping out this way – this gesture was very well received!

Redtenbacher’s Funkestra | Masterlink Sessions studio band

On the note of Redtenbacher’s Funkestra (also know as ‘RB Funkestra’, ‘Funkestra’). Who are they, really? It all started in the mid-90s during my studies at Berklee College of Music. It is there where I formed the idea of ‘Redtenbacher’s Blue Funk Orchestra‘. At then end of my studies I’ve recorded my first album ‘Boozing Wizards – Searching for the stone of Funk’. This was just before I left for London.

The story of the ‘complicated’ band name

In the US last (or family) names come from all corner of the world and ‘Redtenbacher’ seemed a relatively easy sell. Helped by the popular Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn brand and renown Rickenbacker guitars. In the UK the threshold for confidendly pronoucing my last name seemed to be a lot higher. The abbreviated ‘RB Funkestra’ seemed to come off the tongue a lot easier – still negating some complications with the term ‘Funkestra’, simply FUNK + ORCHESTRA. Somewhere down the line it seemed to be too late to change the band name so it kind of stuck.

As the Redtenbacher’s Funkestra collective also acts as the Masterlink Sessions studio (or house) band, sometimes as the Masterlink All Stars it is a light relief that there are no complications in writing or pronoucing the band name.

UK Iteration I

The first iteration of the UK band was with then students of the Royal Academy, thanks to my longtime friend and oustanding musician and trombonist Nichol Thomson. Back to ‘Cool Britannia’ of the 90s with James Knight (saxophone), Simon Finch (trumpet), Mark Cox (drums), Jamie Norton (keyboards), Eran Kendler (guitar) and US expat Yvonne Connors (vocals).

Quickly it became very clear that I needed to establish myself a bit more in London before I could stem running a 8-piece band, fresh in town.

Once I was on stonger footing by a mixture of session bass playing, function work and part-time teaching (on of the ‘classic’ working musician’s business models) I re-started the process of forming a live band.

UK Iteration II

The second iteration of the band started with Mike Sturgis (drums) and Eran Kendler (guitar). The very first rehearsal kind off started on the wrong foot – albeit great fun & full of energy – as the three of us sounded more like a Fusion band than a Funk band. Elements of Jazz Fusion defintely stayed on over the years to come but we also found a Funk pocket of our own. We released several albums – a mixture of studio productions and more live band oriented instrumental Jazz Funk records like ‘The Time Thief’, ‘The Cooker’ and ‘Concubine Chronicles’. The studio recordings were always augmented by awesome guest musicians, many of them who influenced my musical tastes and simply inspired my own creativity.

Guest musicians

To name a few – Fred Wesley and the late Alfred ‘Pee Wee’ Ellis (James Brown, Parliament), guitarists Eric Krasno from Soulive/Lettuce, Elliott Randall (Steely Dan), Cory Wong (Vulfpeck, Fearless Flyers) trombonist Michael B Nelson‘s Hornheads (Prince New Power Generation, Cory Wong & the Wongtones), horn players from Tower of Power (Lenny Pickett, Lee Thornburg, Stephen ‘Doc’ Kupka), from Incognito (Sid Gauld, Jim Hunt, Andrew Ross, Nichol Thomson & many more) from the Brand New Heavies (Richard Beesley), drummers Stanton Moore (Galactic), Benny Greb, Keith Carlock (Steely Dan, Wayne Krantz), Francesco Mendiola (Incognito), saxophonists Andy Snitzer, Rick Margitza, Chris Hunter and keyboard players Dave Limina (Ronnie Earl), Jim Watson (Manu Katche) and Steve Hamilton (Billy Cobham) as well as percussionist Karl Vanden Bossche (Sade, Gorrilaz).

UK Iteration III

A pivotal point in the history of the Redtenbacher’s Funkestra – and in hinsight the start of becoming a studio band collective rather than a fixed (or regular) members type band was when our long standing guitarist Eran Kendler quiet playing guitar for personal reasons. Consequently this decision lead to a sabbatical from the band (with an open ended invite to return I must add). This was in April 2018 when we returned from recording an album with long-standing and long-distance Funkestra member Dave Limina (Hammond organ).

The Funkestra trio of Mike Sturgis on drums, Eran Kendler on guitar and myself on bass was always the pillar that held the band together. Eran was member of both the first and second Funkestra UK iteration, joining in 1997 and Mike Sturgis joined in 2005. All other positions in the band changed over the years and we feel privileged that so many of the top talents of the London scene have played with us.

We did however have some musicians that were long-standing allies and I want to mention them here. Apart from long-distance member Dave Limina (keyboards) who came on board in 1996 –  there were Jim Hunt (saxophone), Rob Taggart (keyboards), Sid Gauld (trumpet) and in later years Paul Jordanous (trumpet), Simon Allen (saxophone) and Piers Green (saxophone). I’m pleased that on the ocassion we are still creating music with the awesome musician Nichol Thomson (trombone) who I’ve known almost as long as Dave Limina.

When the Funkestra ‘guitar chair’ became available UK master guitarist Mike Outram picked up from Eran Kendler (as suggested by him). From then on our Funkestra collective now mostly acting as the Masterlink Sessions studio band collective of regulars was augmented by these fantastically talented musicians (in alphabetical order of last name):


  • Leo Appleyard
  • Carter Arrington
  • Simon Johnson
  • Nat Martin
  • Scott McKeon
  • Mike Outram
  • Tony Remy


  • Pete Billington
  • Liam Dunachie
  • Emily Francis
  • Joe Glossop
  • Anders Olinder
  • Ross Stanley
  • Stevie Watts
  • Peter Whittaker


  • Karl Vanden Bossche
  • Fergus Gerrand


  • Piers Green
  • Paul Jordanous
  • Richard Beesley

Live performance

From 2006 to 2020 (15 years!) we played on a regular basis at the 606 Club in London, between 4 and 5 gigs per year on a Friday night. We appeared in many different guises – from purely instrumental 5 piece to 10 piece with 5 horns and vocals. One time we managed to smash all regulations by having 45+ friends on the guest list only – and they all showed up. There was an actual line coming down into the stairs of the venue!

Initially we started with a three-set and purely instrumental show, then a few tunes with a featured vocalist and ended up with two vocal led set with a hand-full instrumentals.

The 606 gigs were good annual fixtures and around these we also played national and international club dates and festivals in various formats taking us to Austria, Germany, Lithaunia and the US.

Guest singers

Our first ‘regular’ and stunningly talented vocalist was Brendan Reilly – we recorded an EP ‘Little Black Raincloud’ of his originals which were great to perform live too! Having featured vocalists like Wayne Hernandez, Katie Leone and Vanessa Hayes we were recommended to newbee in town, blue-eyed soulstress Helena May. We performed with her from 2016 to pre-pandemic 2020 and recorded an album featuring funk-reimaginations of pop songs called Part Of Me’.

Vocalists and invited guest artists

The premise of the Masterlink Sessions is to invite vocalists and guest artists to cut one two tracks 100% live to camera in the studio. Here are the vocalists we’ve recorded and filmed with so far:

  • Blessing Annatoria
  • Elles Bailey
  • Mutya Buena
  • Brent Carter
  • Joana Cooke
  • Gemma Dorsett
  • Georgia van Etten
  • Laura Evans
  • Mike Farris
  • Mim Grey
  • Jo Harman
  • Isobel Holly
  • Mike Mayfield
  • Helena May
  • Louis Clare Marshall
  • Maria Montanera
  • Sarah Jane Morris
  • Jazz Morley
  • Rebecca Poole (Purdy)
  • Hollie Rogers
  • Connor Selby
  • Diana Silveira
  • Eddy Smith
  • Gemma Stoddard
  • Jade Like The Stone
  • Hamish Stuart
  • Sam Tanner
  • Jana Varga
  • Hannah Williams
  • Edith WeUtonga