It’s been a whirlwind year and a half since Mobbloz made their official landing on the Philadelphia music scene. The world was just beginning to reopen post-lockdown, singers and rappers were looking for open mics to flex and hone their craft, and a top-notch house band was a must.
Led by dynamic MusikalDunk, aka MD, aka percussion powerhouse Barbara Duncan – who we first met while playing in pop/R&B band Rubber, and got to know more deeply in this interview with our Melissa Simpson – Mobbluz has coalesced around a network of Philly talent: beatmaker Omar Saleem, keyboard virtuoso Dan Saleem (of The Funkitorium), guitarist Joshua, bassist Doc Downs (of Ikechi Onyenaka’s band) and saxophonist and flautist Gabe Preston (of You Do You and GPS). Their nimble playing accompanies singles like Illadel’s “Feel Good” and their knack for covers made to engage open mic sets at places like Dahlak and Pentridge Station. Along the way, they also started writing and recording their own music.
Upward spiral, which hit streaming services in May, is the perfect name for Mobbluz’ mix of melody and energy, and they played the entire project live at WXPN Studios this week for a key session to kick off. their series of tour dates at the end of the summer. With guest saxophonist Lev sitting for Preston on this set, Mobbluz grooves to “Grand Intro” and slams “Coast 2 Flight” so hard that MD is on his feet, covered in sweat, as he crescendos – and it’s not. that song two .
The smooth and suave “Funky Polish” is a highlight; Omar composed it while traveling through Poland on a train, and it channels the cool soundtracks of 1960s continental jazz in a chopped and screwed way; the sampled horns sound as if echoing from a mountain tunnel, and the rush of rhythm conjures up images of the rolling green landscape; after a minute of appreciating his rhythm, MD counts everyone and they collectively embellish him. This interplay between sampler-centric hip-hop roots and jazz/funk/rock playing is what sets Mobbluz apart in the Philadelphia “house band” universe, down to digital Latin percussion and piano line. 6/8 cascading on the end of the “Delicacy” set.
Watch the full Mobbluz set below, and catch various festivals across the region this month and next. They are at Muzikfest in Bethlehem on August 4 and 5, followed by an afternoon at the 2nd St. Northern Liberties Festival on Sunday August 7. On Tuesday, August 16, they will perform the food and music series Philly Grown at Liberty Point on the Delaware River, and on September 23, they will headline Funktoberfest at Germantown’s Attic Brewing Company. And more beyond that too; don’t blink, Mobbluz is moving fast.