Aug 19, 2009

Akoya Afrobeat Ensemble - Introducing ...


Fusing a mixture of African, Afro-Cuban, Jazz, and Funk music, Akoya Afrobeat is New York’s finest example of a musical melting pot. Featuring members from Panama, Ghana, Benin, South Africa, Japan and the US, this 13-piece ensemble embraces unity and positive vibrations. Armed with original music and an arsenal of songs by Afrobeat founder, Fela Kuti, Akoya consistently brings a new level of dance floor frenzy with every performance. The group features lead vocalist Kaleta, who for 10 years performed and recorded with the immortal Fela Kuti and Egypt 80. He has also toured with Femi Kuti as well as the legendary King Sunny Ade. His vocals, sung in Yoruba, Pidgin English and various Benin dialects, fused with driving horn lines and a precision-tight rhythm section, bring a sound so infectious one can’t help but dance. Their debut CD “Introducing The Akoya Afrobeat Ensemble” has been very well received, as it has been getting regular airplay on radio stations in South Africa, Nigeria, Benin, France, London and Panama, as well as New York’s WKCR, WBLS, WBAI, and WFMU.

Praise for Akoya Afrobeat Ensemble

“Akoya is developing a reputation for whipping dance floors into a frenzy with their fusion of African, Afro-Cuban, Jazz and Funk music… Akoya is poised to make an impact in the budding global Afrobeat movement.”
- URB Magazine (Akoya was featured in URB’s 2005 “Next 100 Upcoming Bands”.)

“Dancers crowded the stage until the last downbeat.”
- New York Times

“An impressively diverse crew….the group sends a positive political message simply by bringing people from all corners of the world together to share in this joyful collective. Fela would be proud!”
- Afropop Worldwide

“Excellent debut!”
- Village Voice

“Irreverent, intense, sophisticated, multicultural, brash, self-confident and creative… the result is an impassioned and beautifully crafted disc that has earned its place in the collection of any Afropop devotee as well as fans of electric Miles Davis, Santana and perhaps also fans of Willie Colon and the jam band movement. Highly recommended.”
- The BEAT Magazine

“On its debut, the band tears through a propulsive set of original, horn-and-percussion-driven compositions that draw as much from jazz, funk and Afro-Cuban sounds as they do on the original Afrobeat template. Live, they’re known to take on the master himself, often incorporating Fela compositions into their scorching sets.”
- Global Rhythm Magazine



As a lead up to the release of Akoya's new album, let us revisit the first full length recording from this dynamic U.N. of A. (United Nations of Afrobeat). If you've read my review for the "U.S.A.(1)" single, you already know where I stand on this tune. It burns like flags in Berkeley, brah! "Mutiny(2)" burns a little slower (forgot the kerosene, Johnson) until about three minutes in when the petrol gets to flowin' and the wind gets to blowin'. I love the playful horn lines leading into the solos on this tune, it really sounds like everyone's having fun. It's refreshing to hear that in these days of musicians either taking themselves way too seriously or being wild corny by trying to sell their enthusiasm to the audience. "Pelotera(3)" jumps from the gate and doesn't bother slowing down for anything or anyone. You best be ready to ride with this one. "Star Wars(4)" is basically the Hideki Matsui of the album, batting in the five spot and having the distinct honor of being my favorite. And much like Godzilla (Matsui's mad racist nickname here in NY) this song is beautiful in it's many complex layers and as a whole composition. As the cd title subtly suggests, this is the perfect introduction to the Akoya Afrobeat Ensemble. Be prepared to get to know them even better soon, big things are on the horizon.



01. Akoya Chant
02. U.S.A.
03. Mutiny
04. Pelotera
05. Star Wars

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