Nov 17, 2010

Hard Proof Afrobeat


Austin afrobeat sensations, Hard Proof are slated to perform Friday at The Ghost Room to announce the release of their self-titled album. Nigerian and current Austin resident, Kalu James opens the show. Fans may remember Kalu from his appearance at Red 7 with Hard Proof and other guests last month.

Examiner has previewed the new recording which translates easily from the live stage where Hard Proof honed their sound to a gorgeous album that is playing at Examiner's office as this preview is being written. A favorite cut on the album is Buffalo (see video from this morning's Fox 7 broadcast on left).

You will love the great sax sounds on Mahout (listen here) as played by Joe Woullard, Jason Frey and Derek Phelps who also tour with Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears. Hard Proof's members love making fans dance to the infectious African inspired funk/soul originals that fans can find on the new album. The band is appropriately proud of their new work which took over eight months to produce according to Frey.



Hard Proof Afrobeat is led by the same horn section that helps make Black Joe Lewis' live show so damn funky. When they're not spreading the gospel of old-school dirty American funk with Black Joe, Hard Proof pays homage to afrobeat, a funk-influenced 1970s musical movement spawned by Nigerian musical genius Fela Kuti. It's good to see an Austin band getting down with afrobeat, given what a complex yet fun style of music it is. My verdict on Hard Proof Afrobeat: I enjoyed this band, though I wasn't blown away by any means. I think afrobeat suffers when it doesn't have a vocalist. Instrumental afrobeat just lacks the power. I think of Fela's best songs, and they included group chants and scathing politically charged lyrics. Musically, this band is fine. But it's not the full afrobeat experience.



Hard Proof Afrobeat: an emerging Austin talent

An element of a quality concert examiner's role is finding new, exciting bands for their readers to see perform live. In keeping with that theme, there's a new talent in Austin that has already gotten some international recognition, Hard Proof Afrobeat.

Hard Proof has been featured on the British Broadcasting Corp.'s radio program, The Craig Charles Funk and Soul show. Charles selected Lion of Mali, a track recorded for the band's first demo and posted on their MySpace page to play on air. Conga player, Tony Cruz commented that the song was an original witten by Bari Sax player, Joe Woullard.

What is appealing about Hard Proof is the elements of jazz, funk and african rythmns that they fuse together to create a unique sound. While there are many talented musicians in Austin and an equal number of great bands, Hard Proof offers fans something out-of-the-ordinary in terms of the local music scene.

Several band members have been playing music in Austin for some time. Ari Dvorin currently plays with New Orleans transplant Cyril Neville and several other projects. Tenor sax player, Jason Frey and Cruz have collaborated together on a number of projects, including jazz bands, Collect All Five and Tumbateo.



Hard Proof, the self-titled debut album from the Austin, Texas based afrobeat ensemble is a groovtastically funky collection of jams that display a range of dynamics and themes.

I've often said, it's much harder to play slow afrobeat well than fast, and this album is a great example of how to execute a dynamic range. Utilizing slow, winding, interlocking guitar grooves, multi-layered percussion, and deep horn arrangements, Hard Proof sets a down-tempo, sinister mood on tracks such as Stolen Goods, Jimma and Mahout. They pick up the tempo on tracks like No Consideration, Buffalo, and Move In, but it's the slower tracks that creep along that truly stick out on this album.



01. soft bullets
02. raw raw
03. move in
04. mahout
05. m.e.n.d.
06. no consideration
07. buffalo
08. brother
09. stolen goods
10. bailiwick
11. alloy
12. jimma
13. lion of mali
14. superman
15. buzz bizz

1 comment:

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