I’ve been pretty amazed by the variety and quality that the loose group of New York musicians affiliated with the Desco/Daptone Records juggernaut has maintained over the past decade, combining funk, Afrobeat, and hard soul. Flagship band the Dap-Kings have enhanced the already considerable appeal of singer Sharon Jones to the point that they’re headlining the Vic with her on Thursday (it wasn’t so long ago that they were playing the Double Door), and their members have also turned up in various combinations backing Amy Winehouse, Al Green, and Lily Allen, among others. Other label-affiliated groups, some of which predate the Dap-Kings, include the Daktaris, Antibalas, the Soul Providers, the Sugarman 3, and the Budos Band.

But I think my favorite outfit to emerge from this microscene is the six-piece Menahan Street Band, an instrumental group that released its debut, Make the Road by Walking, October 14 on the new Daptone imprint Dunham Records. (They’re opening for Jones and the Dap-Kings on Thursday.) They share members with several of the combos above, but the record hardly sounds like a tossed-off side project. The tunes marry soul melodies reminiscent of early-70s hits to loose, midtempo funk grooves, sharp horn lines, and arrangements and production that remind me of late-60s and early-70s Ethiopian music as well as some of the Chicago-made records that Curtis Mayfield was behind the boards for; though they’re all original, except for an unexpected cover of “Going the Distance” (a triumphant theme from Rocky by Bill Conti), they sound like forgotten classics. I’ve only listened to the record about half a dozen times, but it sounds better with every spin.

Today’s playlist:

Roberto Roena, Roberto Roena y Su Apollo Sounds 2 (Fania)
Jutta Hipp, Jutta Hipp With Zoot Sims (Blue Note)
Billy Bauer, The Billy Bauer Quartets: Let’s Have a Session (Fresh Sound)
Evan Parker, Boustrophedon (ECM)
White Hinterland, Phylactery Factory (Dead Oceans)