Saturday 1:35 – 3:05 | Main Stage
It was 1996 when veteran Rochester musicians James Richmond (sax, keyboard and vocals) and Ralph Ortiz (bass) started assembling their dream band. A funk band, of course, and for once there would be no compromises in musicianship or material. This would be Prime Time Funk.
One by one, they handpicked the rhythm section, starting with drummer Dave Cohen. When they began recruiting the PTF horns, saxophonist Vince Ercolamento was their first call.
The dream quickly became a reality, surviving the inevitable personnel changes that occur in any band, and becoming stronger with each change. The current and longtime lineup features Andy Calabrese on keyboards, Joe Chiappone on guitar, Ron D’Angelo and Derrick Lipp on trumpets, Michael Edwards on baritone sax and violin, and the incomparable Ronnie Leigh on vocals.
In 2009, tragedy struck when co-founder/bassist Ralph Ortiz died suddenly from cancer. But, as if orchestrated by Ralph himself, bassist Ron France appeared and has allowed the PTF dream to continue.
The band has just completed recording its second CD, “Hear and Now” as a tribute to Ralph. PTF’s
debut CD in 2001, Ready and Willing, was produced by Grammy® Award-winning producer and Rochester Music Hall of Fame inductee Jeff Tyzik, Principal Pops Conductor for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.
In its 14 years, Prime Time Funk has played the Lionel Hampton Jazz Club in Paris, France as well as the Rochester International Jazz Festival, and has shared the stage with some of the world’s most respected funk, R&B, blues and jazz acts: Earth, Wind & Fire; Medeski, Martin & Wood; The Brothers Johnson; Tom Scott; Terrence Blanchard; The Temptations; Average White Band; Stanley Clarke; Lenny White; Larry Carlton; John Scofield; Sherman Roberston; and Francine Reed.
Most recently, this premier ten-piece powerhouse was selected to be the “house band” for the Rochester Music Hall of Fame’s Inaugural Induction Ceremony. Backing inductees Cab Calloway’s daughter, Cecelia Calloway and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, The Rascal’s to rave reviews.
Audiences eat up the chemistry on stage, dance like theres no one watching, and appreciate that they’re hearing extraordinary musicians who truly live up to the name Prime Time Funk.