Sep 9, 2009
Euforquestra - Explorations In Afrobeat
Originally from Iowa City, IA, recently relocated to Fort Collins, CO, Eufórquestra has been touring more than ever and is continuing to take its cutting edge music in different directions. Their self-proclaimed “Afro-Caribbean-Barnyard-Funk” brings a rhythmic wall of sound, integrating such genres as Afrobeat, Reggae, Afro-Cuban, Samba, Soca, Funk, Salsa, and Dub. This is music that ignites dance floors across the country with a sound that “explodes, dances and melts in your ear with sheer bliss” (Chris M. Slawecki; www.allaboutjazz.com).
With two full-length albums to their name and a relentless tour schedule (over 300 shows in the last two and a half years), the 7-piece band has become one of the hottest bands on Colorado’s live music circuit and has created a national presence with performances all over the U.S. at clubs, concert halls, community events, and festivals, including Wakarusa (Lawrence, KS and Ozark, AR), moe. Summer Camp (Chillicothe, IL), 80/35 (Des Moines, IA), Sweet Pea Festival (Bozeman, MT), NedFest (Nederland, CO), Groovefest (Cedar City, UT), Montana Beer Festival (Bozeman, MT), and the Iowa City Jazz Festival.
In July 2006, an original Eufórquestra song , “Ochun,” from the group’s second studio album Explorations In Afrobeat, was selected for Global Rhythm Magazine’s monthly compilation disc. In early 2008, Eufórquestra was asked to collaborate with an all-star lineup including Page McConnell (Phish), Russell Batiste (Funky Meters, PBS), Reed Mathis (Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Teal Leaf Green) and Papa Mali at the Big Easy Blowout, a three-day tour of shows across Colorado’s Front Range, benefiting the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic and the Tipitina’s Foundation.
With great expectations, 2009 promises to be an exciting year for Eufórquestra, as the group prepares to release a highly anticipated third studio album (recorded at Backbone Studios in Loveland, CO, www.backbonestudio.com). This project brings Eufórquestra’s sound to soaring new heights with a collection of songs that captures a band in peak performance in terms of songwriting, arranging and energy.
::World Music Central::
Think hard... when was the last time you heard a bunch of guys from the midwestern US combine Fela Kuti-style Afrobeat with chants in praise of the Yoruba pantheon of dieties honored in the Afro-Cuban Lucumi religion? If it's been longer than you're comfortable with, get ahold of this offering from Iowa-based Euforquestra.
Taking a cue from both the long, tight, funky structures of Afrobeat and deeply traditional Cuban ensembles like Los Munequitos de Mantanzas, they've come up with a very good best-of-both-worlds. The instrumental arrangements sport that familiar combination of African rhythm and James Brown funk that Fela Kuti pioneered and American bands like Antibalas continue to champion, but instead of lyrics ridiculing government incompetence or urging you to shake it on the dance floor, praises are chanted to the Orishas (spiritual beings) who represent and oversee humans and nature.
Fusing the sounds of Nigerian Afrobeat music with the rich traditional sounds of Cuba in a musical interplay that connects these two branches of a vast multicultural tree, Iowa City, IA's Euforquestra has been offering up the best of the current Afrobeat craze to the Midwest and beyond since 2004; But don't let their youth fool you-there is a virility and an "inclusive, 'everyone get in here' sense of humor, (Jim Musser, music critic)" to their music and stage presence, not to mention a massive respect for their elders (check out their liner notes for a brief history of Fela Kuti's life in music), that has primed this 7-piece ensemble to become one of the most prolific and exciting Afrobeat sound machines on the scene-in fact, Euforquestra have already been hosting their own "Camp Euforia," an annual celebration of community and music, for three years.
Explorations in Afrobeat, the band's latest release, is a synthesis of West African and Cuban music rooted in the Yoruba tradition (The Yoruba are the largest single ethno-linguistic group in Nigeria and the second largest in Africa). Euforquestra also boasts two members who have studied traditional music in Cuba, the influence of which plunges the band deep into a full-bodied tradition of Cuban Rhythms, with the added elements of Afro-Cuban, Samba, Soca, Funk, Reggae and at times, even a bit of Bluegrass.
Listening to Explorations in Afrobeat is a wonderful journey through a rich multicultural past, a roots-anchored present and a global,integrated future. You will hear the familiar as well as the new, truly illustrating the Euforquestra's mission statement.
::Sea of Tranquility::
Euforquestra: Explorations in Afrobeat
Explorations in Afrobeat, the second album from Iowa's Euforquestra, is a synthesis of West African and Cuban music rooted in the Yoruba tradition (The Yoruba are the largest single ethno-linguistic group in Nigeria and the second largest in Africa). Two of the band members have studied traditional Cuban music, which helps give the music of Euforquestra their varied sound, combining Afro-Cuban elements with Samba, Soca, Funk, Jazz, Reggae, and of course rock. Think Santana meets Osibisa meets Bob Marley and you have some idea of the musical concoction here. The band gets a rich sound by using tenor and alto sax, guitar, keyboards, bass, vibes, drums, percussion, and vocals. Much of the lyrical content is based on the Lucumi religion and its spiritual beings called the Orisha, which represents different elements of nature and the human condition such as fire, water, mental disease, motherhood, wisdom, lightning, etc. Quite a bit of information on this culture is given in the CD booklet, and it's an interesting read for those who are new to the subject. All seven members of the band have a love for Afro-Cuban music and culture, and it really shows through the music.
Half the songs here are of epic length and surpass the nine-minute mark, which allows for plenty of fiery and groove laden jams featuring soaring sax, gritty guitar, tight percussion, and lofty keyboard sounds. Eric Quiner lays down some fat electric piano tones on the scorching "Obatala", a rumbling jazz-funk-rocker with kick ass rhythms and plenty of hot sax and guitar interplay. Again, think Osibisa meets Santana with a healthy dose of jazz and reggae thrown in for good measure. Other hot tracks include the driving funk beats of "Ogun", the sophisticated grooves of "Elegua", and the heavily jazzed-up
"Chango", which features some wonderful sax work from Ryan Jeter and Austin Zaletel. I dare anyone to not get up on their feet and start dancing to the upbeat sounds of "Ochun", a song with a strong Latin feel thanks to the vibes, percussion, and sax work.
This CD was a complete surprise, and will easily appeal to those who have an interest in African or Cuban music, jazz, World, prog rock, or any of the bands mentioned above.
04. Intro to Chango
06. Intro to Ochun
07. Ochun (Click song to hear a sample)
08. Elegua Outro