Formed by breaks fanatic Miles Tackett, Breakestra is a constantly morphing hip-hop orchestra based in Los Angeles. The group came together in 1997-1997 around Tackett's DJ gigs at a coffeehouse. A multi-instrumentalist whose work on cello has appeared on recordings by B.B. King, Macy Gray, and Black Eyed Peas, Tackett was a funk fan who got into hip-hop during the late '80s -- courtesy of the Ultramagnetic classic Critical Beatdown -- when he realized it was keeping the funk flame alive.
A wish to play instrumental hip-hop in a band context brought the group together, with Tackett alongside drummer Josh "Wallet" Cohen, reed player Geoff "Double G" Gallegos, trumpeters Todd Simon and Paul Vargas, trombone player Dan Osterman, keyboard player Carlos Guaico, percussionist Davy Chegwidden, guitarist Dan Ubick, and vocalists Sol Sista DeMya and Mixmaster Wolf (aka Stones Throw honcho Peanut Butter Wolf). Their club night, Root Down, brought in crowds, along with the cream of the rap underground (Jurassic 5, Dilated Peoples, Company Flow, DJ Shadow, Freestyle Fellowship), and their first single, "Getcho Soul Togetha," appeared on Stones Throw in 1999.
That year also brought an intriguing demo called The Live Mix Tape -- including Breakestra covers of a host of deep funk classics -- but an official release (as The Live Mix, Pt. 1) waited until 2001 and only appeared in Japan. The second volume followed later that year, and was released on Stones Throw. In 2005 Breakestra recorded a single, Family Rap, featuring Chali 2na and Soup from Jurassic 5 and Double K from People Under the Stairs, and also released their third studio album, Hit the Floor, on Ubiquity Records, with a nearly entirely different lineup. [AMG John Bush]