Nov 14, 2009

Mdungu - Afro What

The Band

Mdungu is a formation of nine international musicians based in The Netherlands. Their style is unique. Intense, raw and highly danceable. A fat horn section, a thriving rhythm section, lyric guitars and a pinch of vocals are the cornerstones of the Mdungu sound. Mdungu is influenced by the Griots of Mali, the Afrobeat of Nigeria and the Mbalax of Senegal. Mixed with funk, rock, jazz and samba, played with heart and soul: African music the Mdungu way.

AFRO WHAT!? is Mdungu's debut album released in May 2009. The album was very well received in the Benelux and has been released in the rest of Europe in the fall of 2009. The recordings are mixed by producer/guitarist Justin Adams, who is well known from his award winning work with Tinariwen, his own group the Justin Adams / Juldeh Camara Trio and Robert Plants Strange Sensation. The album is released by Zimbraz, a division of Music & Words.


This album of Dutch-based musicians drawn from Holland and West Africa, will get attention because of the involvement of Justin Adams, whose work with Tinariwen, Soul Science and Robert Plant has been critically-acclaimed and popular in equal measure.

It’s a lucky break for the band and for anyone who loves jazz and African music. These ten tracks go from hard honking sax Afrobeat numbers to gentler guitar-driven pieces of quiet beauty and there is a sense that although there is fusioning going on, it is not the forced, bottom denominator stuff that quickly tires, it is the result of a band playing together for a number of years and getting each other’s musical ideas. Perhaps the quality of the album lies on the cutting room floor. It is the stuff that was tried and ultimately rejected over the years that marks out what is left as the real thing.

There are no duds on this album and I only hope that if this album gets the attention it deserves, the band will get an unreasonably long time to develop a follow up.

—Damian Rafferty, 4 October 2009 -> Source

"One of the year’s undisputed highlights so far. A joy from beginning to end. Diverse, funky, challenging and fresh." Fly, Global Music Culture (UK)

"They (Mdungu) are the most popular and most busy Afropop band based in the Netherlands" Peter Bruyn, Haarlems Dagblad

"Mdungu is rightaway the highlight of the night" review by De of Mdungu at Pure Jazz Festival, The Hague

"Such craftmanship. Simply brilliant!" RifRaf magazine

"Go buy this record and go see this band, Mdungu is in the Dutch African scene a new and very refreshing sound." Jair Tchong, VPRO radio

"Afro What!? is one of those few records that gets better every time you listen to it... one of the strongest debuts of the year"

“An amazing debut! (...) Goosebumps.” (Mixed)



01. Afro What!?
02. Boolow Gambia
03. Slow Music
04. Confusion
05. Pick Up
06. Walk To Togo
07. Kabbaya
08. Mali Express
09. Rio Nights
10. Paps Touré

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