Oct 30, 2010

Argentinian Afrobeat: Tam Tam

Tam Tam is a percussion and wind ensemble that explores the path of West African percussion, Afrobeat and jazz, and transmits, with his music, that crazy energy to all who will come to share. And those who do not want, too. Because ours comes the whole universe.

at myspace

Tam Tam es un ensamble de percusión y vientos que explora en el camino del la percusión africana del oeste, el Afrobeat y el jazz, y transmite, con su música, esa energía loca a todos los que quieran acercarse a compartirla. Y a los que no quieran, también. Porque lo nuestro llega al universo entero.


01 - Mopti
02 - Mane
03 - Yagwa
04 - Yamkadi
05 - Balankulania

Oct 25, 2010

New album coming soon: Femi Kuti - Africa for Africa

After more twists and turns in his recent record label adventures than the sale of Liverpool FC, it’s great to get a new album from Femi Kuti!

Like his father before him there is no evidence of a mellowing with age, in fact quite the reverse. This is an album dominated by the bitterness of one who feels he has been had. Had by the government, by the governors and the whole political class. Had by an international system that displays proudly its benevolence towards his continent while stripping its resources bare, shitting on its environment from a height and condemning millions to a carousel of subsistence and death.

As he wonders aloud on ‘Bad Government’ how is it that Africa produces such great footballers, doctors and other individuals while its countries are in a mess? Most of the tracks on this album have the intensity and punch that makes his live shows so unforgettable but perhaps a little more variety in pace would make the album a better listen. On the other hand in this digital age, how much does that matter?

And if a few of the tracks sound familiar that could because — like the opening track ‘Dem Bobo’ — they have appeared on other albums (in this case Africa Shrine).

Hopefully, this album will get into the hands of some of the many who’ll be checking out the Musical Fela during its run at the National Theatre in November, while Femi himself is doing a short tour of the UK at the end of November / the start of December 2010.



29. Oct 2010 La Pesse, FRANCE
30. Oct 2010 Aubervilliers, FRANCE
05. Nov 2010 Laval, FRANCE
06. Nov 2010 Massy, FRANCE
10. Nov 2010 Foix, FRANCE
12. Nov 2010 Cléon, FRANCE
13. Nov 2010 Villier Le Bel, FRANCE
19. Nov 2010 Perth, Perth, AUSTRALIA
20. Nov 2010 Sidney, AUSTRALIA
21. Nov 2010 Melbourne, AUSTRALIA
23. Nov 2010 Brisbane, AUSTRALIA
28. Nov 2010 London, UNITED KINGDOM
29. Nov 2010 Manchester, UNITED KINGDOM
30. Nov 2010 Leeds, UNITED KINGDOM
01. Dec 2010 Edinburgh, UNITED KINGDOM
02. Dec 2010 Glasgow, UNITED KINGDOM
04. Dec 2010 Turin, ITALY
05. Dec 2010 Bern, SWITZERLAND
07. Dec 2010 Berlin, GERMANY
08. Dec 2010 Hamburg, GERMANY
09. Dec 2010 Cologne, GERMANY
11. Dec 2010 Paris, FRANCE
12. Dec 2010 Cleon, FRANCE



Oct 22, 2010

Afrobeat from Finland: Aiyekooto and his Afrobeat International

Aiyekooto, born Babatunde Akerele, started writing songs 15 years ago. His music is a mixture of afrobeat, highlife and funk. Since 2005 he has been living in Helsinki, Finland. There Aiyekooto has put together his own 15-piece band of top Finnish musicians called "Afrobeat International".

from their myspace page!


Nigerian Aiyekooto combines enchanting afrobeat with older Ghana-born genres of highlife and funky. Living in Helsinki since 2005, he has surrounded himself with the impressive Afrobeat International band, consisting of renowned rhythm musicians. Before coming to Finland the band’s leader Babatunde Akerele composed, wrote lyrics and arranged his 70′s afro sound in Lagos, Nigeria.

Aiyekooto & His Afrobeat International were chosen the best band of 2007 at the Funk Awards gala in February. The 20-member band, serving exotic rhythms and positive vibrations, has thrown several energetic and enthusiastic gigs at clubs and festivals around the country. The band is a real dance floor filler – it’s almost impossible to avoid the urge to dance to their seductive rhythms. When the audience is in the groove, they don’t want to let the band go off stage.



Unfortunately, as far as I know there is no album yet - but hopefully soon - therefore, to listen to some of there songs just check out their myspace page here!

... moreover, a video can be seen here!

Oct 20, 2010

Zongo Junction

Zongo Junction embodies the wealth of Brooklyn’s musical diversity, by melding traditional West African rhythms with Funk, Jazz and Soul from the U.S. Heavily influenced by Nigerian superstar, political activist and afrobeat pioneer, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the 13-piece ensemble gets audiences riled up and dancing at every show they put on.

The band was conceived in early 2007 by drummer Charles Ferguson and original keyboardist, Adam Coopersmith while the two attended the New School in New York City. When Charles returned from a six-month trip to Ghana, where he studied African highlife music and traditional xylophone technique, he teamed up with Adam and 11 other musicians to form Zongo Junction. The name comes from the bus stop from which Charles lived off of while living in Accra, Ghana.

Beginning with a birthday show for Charles’ 21st birthday in April 2009, the band was well received from the start. Their club debut at Public Assembly (formerly the Galapagos Arts Center) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in July was another huge success, and led to a monthly residency for the duration of the year. Since then, the band has performed at some of New York’s most illustrious venues including the Knitting Factory and Sullivan Hall as well as Williams College in Williamstown, MA and the Elbo Room in San Francisco where they played a sold out show the night before New Years in 2009.

The core of the band was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and has been playing music together virtually since they were all still in diapers. Five members of the band were part of the prestigious Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble (alumni include: Joshua Redman, Peter Apfelbaum, Will Bernard, Benny Green) and twice toured Europe. All members moved to New York after High School to attend music programs at The New School and New York University.

The 13-piece ensemble includes an eight-person rhythm section (drums, bass, two guitars, three percussionists, and keyboard), five horns (trumpet, trombone, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones) and a vocalist.

Further information at their myspace page!!!

If anyone is interested supporting them to record their album is kindly invited to do this here!

About this project


We are Zongo Junction, an 11 piece Afrobeat band based in Brooklyn, NY. We have been playing together since April 2009, but many of us have known each other for much longer (some since kindergarten). The core of the band grew up together in the Bay Area, California. We're trying to make a record and we need the help of our beautiful family, friends and fans! We've been working really hard to raise funds for this project through live shows and merchandise sales, but we need an extra boost.

The music we play is Afrobeat, originally pioneered by Nigerian musical superstar and political activist, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. With the success of the Broadway musical, FELA!, about the life and music of Fela Kuti, we believe this is a great time for us to put our music out for the public to hear.

Our plan is to spend a week in the studio at the beginning of November, recording a 6 or 7 song disc. We have some amazing people on board that should take this album to a whole new level, including a great engineering/production team, and a guest appearance (or two) from a longtime member of Fela Kuti's famous Egypt 80 band!

As many people know, it's expensive to record, mix, master and manufacture a high quality record. ANY amount you are able to pledge is hugely appreciated.

Along with the gratification you will get knowing you have given to something very dear to our hearts and something we have all spent countless hours perfecting, there are also some awesome rewards we are offering, starting at just $10. Check them out to the right. Pre-order your copy today!

There's no limit on how much we can raise, so even if we hit our $5,000 goal, there is plenty more we can do with the extra cash.


Funding a tour.
Printing more CD's and T-shirts
Pressing the record to vinyl in addition to CD (how cool?)
Getting stickers printed.
and so much more...

We hope you enjoy our music and regardless of whether or not you pledge we thank you for at least checking this project out. If you're reading this, you at least got far enough to hear what we're all about.

Oct 15, 2010

Hugh Masekela - Lasting Impression Of Ooga Booga



Combining two great albums into one convenient package, THE LASTING IMPRESSIONS OF OOGA BOOGA presents the recordings that introduced the West to the music of one of jazz's most formidable forces--Hugh Masekela. Hailing from South Africa, Masekela wowed a generation, earning fans as diverse as Eric Burdon and Miles Davis.

On THE LASTING IMPRESSIONS OF OOGA BOOGA, Masekela's music combines the elements of the American art form with African song structures, rhythms and melodies. The result is a truly remarkable fusion. "Canteloupe Island" is the only jazz standard here, the rest of the two albums consisting of African originals given a jazz treatment. This collection also affords the listener a chance to hear the raw energy of Masekela's live show, as the first half of the CD was recorded live in New York City.

Recorded live at the Village Gate, New York, New York in 1965.



(Positive)Reviews at amazon.com

Negative ones I don't wanna add coz' this disc is really amazing!!! Check it out!!!

First one:

When I was still counting my years on two hands, Hugh Masekela was making a bold impression, indeed, on America, topping the U.S. pop chart with "Grazing In The Grass." It's flipside also made an impression on me. "Bajabula Bonke" was the first song of African origin I ever listened to at length. Without understanding the words or their exact meaning (I was 8), I was touched by the spirit of the storyteller that is so much a part of African history. It also featured a kind of rhythm I'd never encountered before; very much unlike what prevailed in those days on Black radio. This album, recorded about three days earlier, contains a live performance in New York City by a very young Masekela, including a less-polished version of "Bajabula Bonke." Hugh was still married to Miriam Makeba at this time, and he learned many songs from her (Makeba's mother was an asongoma, one who told stories/history through song). Masekela is not yet a master on this set, which is preserved here as one performance (the original release on vinyl was divided onto two albums), but he is already a journeyman soloist. He has a vision, and he and his combo are fleshing it out as they go along. This album is the root of the World Beat movement as we know it. Masekela and company are combining elements of Africa, Cuba, South America, and good ol' American Jazz into a new form; a form which could truly traverse the world. I think Hugh wanted to make an impact, so the first five cuts on this performance seem strongest. But there are other fine performances, like on "Masquenada." He displays fine range and good mechanics as a singer, which has always been a very underrated part of his game. Listen to Hugh's version of "Canteloupe Island" and compare it to the hugely popular hip-hop version of a few years ago. Hugh definitely made an impact. It has taken years, but Hugh has remained true to his roots and his causes, and is highly respected worldwide. If you want to hear his sound fully realized, seek out his album, "Tomorrow." This CD shows you the process of creative alchemy. Hugh Masekela takes Manhattan and shows that he is ready for the World. If you want to hear some of these same songs in a more traditional South African style, check out Miriam Makeba's late 80s release, "Sangoma."

Second one:

Perhaps I can give happy dog some perspective. When this album was first released, it was titled The Americanization of OOga BOOga! I believe the year was 1964 or 1965. I know, I have the original album and cover. The picture is the same, but the way the words have been splashed across the album cover, it is clearly to cover up the original title. If you consider the original name of the album, the Americanization..., then it should be clear why the music has a pop feel to it. It was intended to introduce African rhythms to an American audience, which means it had to be dumbed down (so to speak). There was a time when coming to America meant something. Then, there is the period of awakening when the new arrivals become disillusioned with the dream. Such was the case with Masekela many years later. I was in the audience when he announced that he was no longer going to play Grazing in the Grass, because it was a dillution of who he was and what he was hoping to contribute with his music. Rather than introducing his music to this country, he found himself playing music written and arranged by Americans and they were only using him and his horn to sell the same old things to us. He was right, America is not open to new experiences. We are only interested in adding just a bit of spice to that which is already familiar. But, trust me, when this album came on the scene, it was a big thing, indeed.

Third one:

I had a Hugh Masekela collection that began when I was 15 years old, when I became Hugh's number one fan (prove I'm not!). I had both the albums that comprise this one. I loss possession of all of my Hugh albums (moving, relationship break-ups, etc., etc.). I'm ecstatic to recover two of them in one buy. I'm too prejudiced to really rate this CD because when the originals were out, I was about everything Hugh. I loved them then, and I love them now. The songs still sound as good to me now as they did then. But, the good thing is that even if you don't go way back with Hugh like me, the music is still GREAT!

Fourth one:

One of the biggest pain points of any musician is hearing some rank-amateur in the crowd complain that they didn't perform with enough proficiency to rank them up with their dutiful critic's standards. They are missing the point of live performance. But, then again, none of these nay-sayers have ever had to pick up a horn and play in their entire life.

This CD (dad's LP when I first spun it) defined live performance for me as a kid. Yea, ther might be a few subtle gaffs here and there, but they are in context with the music. This is more of an inflexion than a mistake. Score Masekela: 1, Grumpy Pundit: 0.

The depth of the recording itself makes it one of my favorites on my CD rotation. It certainly captures the ambiant refelctions of a smokey NYC nightclub that is The Village Gate. If you close your eyes, you can almost see the skinny black ties and dark sunglasses. Try not to pass this off as lounge fodder. You'll be making a gross error in judgement.


1. Bajabula Bonke (The Healing Song)
2. Dzinorabiro
3. Unhlanhia
4. Cantaloupe Island
5. U-Dwi
6. Mas Que Nada
7. Abangoma (The Healers)
8. Mixolydia
9. Con Mucho Carino
10. Where Are You Going?
11. Morolo
12. Bo Masekela
13. Unohilo

Oct 13, 2010

Classic from Ghana: K.Frimpong And His Cubano Fiestas


In the mid-70s, K.Frimpong recorded with two orchestras simultaneously. Let's begin with the Vis-A-Vis band. The first album was recorded in 1977 on the label Probisco Records (KBL 068). It has been reissued later on Makossa International Records (MA 7076). One of the best Vis-A-Vis album.

Vis-A-Vis was led by Issac Yeboah, based in Kumasi and featuring some of the Ghana's finest musicians of the 70's: Sammy Cropper on lead guitar, Slim Yaw on bass and Kung-fu Kwaku on drums. This other album with Vis-A-Vis was recorded in 1978 on the label Ofori Brothers. Have pleasure...

The other Frimpong's backing band was The Cubano Fiestas. In fact, Vis-A-Vis is the same band as the Cubano Fiestas except different members like George Amissah who plays Saxo alto, George Abunah (sax ténor) and Arthur Kennedy (trompette). These three guys were used to play with Ebo Taylor.

The first recording seems to be from 1977, still on the label Ofori Brothers. We all know this album because of the famous title "Kyenkyen Bi Adi Mawu" which made Frimpong become an international and respected artist.

The other album recorded the with Cubano Fiestas was recorded in 1980 on Polydor's label. Those two titles are again two wonderful afrobeat tunes. As you may notice, the title "Nye Mea" is a remake of "Kyenkyen Bi Adi Mawu". Very interesting piece. To finish, Alhaji K. Frimpong passed away in 2005. Long life to his music and soul...

Source: Orogod ... just check out the page!!! Some interesting stuff to discover!


1. Hwehwe Mu Na Yi Wo Mpena 7:48
2. Asaase Yi So 5:41
3. Awisia 5:28
4. Adam Nana 13:53

Afrodizz - Froots


After the inspiring afrobeat of their 2004 debut Kif Kif, Montreal octet Afrodizz have unsaddled themselves from the crushing yoke of Fela Kuti, opting instead for a hybrid of afrobeat, funk and acid jazz on their follow-up Froots. Pared down to mere songs - most are in the four to six-minute range - the tracks here eschew the powerfully hypnotic juju rhythms and extended sax and trumpet solos of trad afrobeat, nailing home the message with pointed, but occasionally clumsy, vocals.

That said, the disc is rife with pounding, liberating rhythms, further buttressed by Francois Glidden's burly baritone sax. The lead video 'Yadsa' (alas, nobody releases singles here anymore, so why pretend otherwise) is a ferocious assault, where the listener is pummelled with Afrodizz's superb horn section. Ditto for 'Start', where chief songwriter Gabriel Aldama slips in some abrasive guitar chords, recalling the inchoate textures of Fela's London Scene. 'Fashion Terroriste' is especially inventive, as guest vocalist Frank Maras melds some sultry Gainsbourg-esque vocals (en francais) into the mix. When the music finally finds the space to breathe, as on the languid 11-minute 'Bombe', saxophonist Frede Simard and Glidden offer up some crisp solos, but are ultimately edged out by those darned vocals.



1. Killing Floor
2. Yadsa
3. Fashion Terroriste
4. Water And Fish
5. Poots
6. Start
7. Bomb
8. O K Ou
9. Like This

Oct 12, 2010

Segun Adewale and His Superstars International - Super Star Verse 1


Often called the "Crown Prince of Juju" as he followed in the footsteps of the legendary King Sunny Ade, Nigerian bandleader Segun Adewale was one of most popular West African performers of the 1980s. Adewale served a long apprenticeship in several of the bands that developed the colorful juju style and brought it to international popularity. He gained widespread fame before juju's dominance was ended by the rise of the fuji style in Nigerian popular music of the 1990s.

Adewale, like Ade, was a member of the hereditary aristocracy of the Yoruba ethnic group. He was born in Oshogbo, Nigeria, in 1955 or 1956. His father taught him to play the guitar. Adewale attended local schools and was groomed by his family for a career as a doctor or lawyer. They ruled out a career in music, but Adewale's response was to leave home and move to the Nigerian capital of Lagos, where in the 1960s, juju music was taking shape from a rich mix of existing musical ingredients. Tribal drum rhythms were fused with guitars and other Western instruments, some of them brought to Africa by former American slaves, and others, such as the country music pedal steel guitar, of more recent importation.

Adewale signed on with one of the early juju bands, Chief S.L. Atolagbe and His Holy Rainbow, and, after some lean years, was encouraged to stick with his music by bandleader and accordionist I.K. Dairo. Dairo instructed the young musician in the art of songwriting and in creating arrangements for juju's huge, kinetic ensembles of musicians and dancers. In 1973 Adewale formed a band of his own called the Superstars. That ensemble released an album called Kogbodopa Finna-Finna but broke up almost immediately.

Late in 1974 Adewale joined another band that was a fixture of the juju scene, Prince Adekinle's Western Brothers Band. In 1977 he and another top musician in the band, Shina Peters, departed to form a group of their own, Shina Adewale and the Superstars International. Both musicians were considered young innovators, and while the well-publicized rivalry between juju's top stars, Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey and King Sunny Ade and His African Beat, gained international attention, Shina Adewale built an audience at home.

In 1980, after releasing several albums, Adewale and Peters parted ways, each with his own vision of how to take juju to its next stage. Adewale formed a new band of 20 musicians, once again called the Superstars. Releasing several albums in short order, the band began to realize Adewale's new ideas. By their fifth album, Endurance, Adewale had dubbed his sound "yo-pop" (meaning "Yoruba pop") and was blending musical ideas of reggae, funk, and the old-fashioned Nigerian dance style of highlife into the basic juju sound. The biggest influence, however, came from rock, a music that previously hadn't played much of a role in Nigerian music. The first difference that a Western listener may notice when comparing Adewale's music to that of his contemporaries is the presence of speedy, agile electric guitars. Essentially, Adewale fully integrated lead, bass, and other guitars into juju's net of percussion rhythms.

Yo-pop catapulted Adewale to the top of the heap in Nigerian music for a time. "All speed, thunder, and lightning," wrote the authors of World Music: The Rough Guide, of Adewale's sound, adding that "it found a huge young audience, especially in Lagos." Adewale also began to make waves among overseas Nigerian communities, and in 1984 he was signed to the Stern's Records label in the United Kingdom. His album Play for Me, which featured some English texts, was released in 1984 in the United Kingdom, and Adewale and the Superstars played several high-profile gigs there. In 1985 they performed three concerts at the Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland, a huge, days-long event encompassing theater, music, and street festivities.

The classic Adewale ensemble, as heard on the Ojo Je collection, consisted of lead guitar (played by Adewale himself, who also took lead vocals), another solo electric guitar, two talking drums, two tenor guitars, a pedal steel guitar, a bass guitar, congas, background vocalists, gourd maracas, a gong, traditional drums, and several other African instruments. His recordings often strung several individual pieces together, creating an unbroken stream of music that filled one side of an LP record and evoked the hours-long concert extravaganzas that juju groups perform live. Especially notable in Adewale's music was his use of talking drums---tuned drums that suggest spoken sentences by playing a series of pitches that correspond to the sentences' inflections.

Two of Adewale's albums for Stern's, Play for Me and the compilation Ojo Je, were released in the United States by the Rounder label in 1988, bringing him some attention among American listeners first exposed to juju by Ade's spectacular festival appearances in the mid-1980s. By that time, however, Adewale had lost ground in Nigeria to Peters, whose well-financed music shrewdly took advantage of the serious themes introduced to Nigerian music by Fela Anikulapo Kuti and his competing Afro-Beat style. Western listeners also began to discover the politically charged music of Kuti himself and the classic style of Ebenezer Obey, and Adewale's music was largely eclipsed. The two Rounder albums of 1988 remained Adewale's only forays into the American market until the late 1990s, and after Adewale's international fortunes suffered in comparison with those of other Nigerian groups, the Superstars broke up.

By the early 1990s the decades-old juju tradition itself was under siege commercially in Nigeria from a new music called fuji, a percussion-centered style that carried overtones of Nigerian Islamic sacred music. Adewale promoted himself as a defender of juju and proclaimed another new style of his own, called peperempe. Little was heard from him for much of the 1990s, but in 1996 he released an album, Here I Am in America, for a small Nigerian-American label called Celebrity Records. The following year he contributed to a compilation entitled Nigerian Artists for Peace. His place in the history of juju, a genre that did much to launch the whole idea of world music, has been secured, and he has left a large recorded legacy that, as of the early 2000s, mostly awaited rediscovery by Western lovers of African music.

by James M. Manheim

Read more: Segun Adewale Biography http://www.musicianguide.com/biographies/1608004201/Segun-Adewale.html#ixzz127EuGxVs


A1 Halleluyah
A2 Ejeka Seba Fun Baba
A3 Jesu Lalabo Mi
A4 Owuro Lawa
A5 Ma Se Dale
A6 Oyin Pelemo
B1 Mase Doju Igbagbo Ti Wa
B2 Omo Wunmi Eledumare
B3 Super Stars
B4 Awarawa Rirawa
B5 Eni Mowa

Oct 11, 2010

Femi Kuti - Two Articles from The New York Times

Guarding a Legacy From Nigeria to Broadway

By Larry Rother, July 2010

Femi Kuti, the Nigerian singer and saxophonist, admits to being delighted that “Fela!,” the Broadway musical about his father, Fela Kuti, is a hit, attracting new fans to Afrobeat, the politically charged musical genre that Fela created and Femi plays. Even so, he is not planning to see the Tony-winning show during a trip to New York for a performance Monday night in Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing series.

“I’m protesting for it to come to Lagos, so if I see it now, I will lose that fight,” he said before a performance with Positive Force, the 13-piece orchestra he leads, here Saturday night. “It’s good that it’s on Broadway, the publicity is great, everyone is talking about it. But if there is truly respect for the music and the message, it has to come to Africa, back to Lagos and the Shrine that we, his family, have built for him. That is important spiritually and culturally.”

As Fela’s oldest son, Mr. Kuti, 48, is in an unusual, demanding and potentially contradictory position. Since his father’s death, from complications of AIDS in 1997, the younger Kuti has pursued two careers: his own musicianship and that of serving as the main guardian of Fela Kuti’s legacy and of Afrobeat, the inviting and highly danceable mixture of West African rhythms with jazz, soul, funk and psychedelic rock influences.

“The baton is definitely in his hands,” said Ahmir Thompson, drummer for the Roots, better known as Questlove, who is a longtime fan of the Kuti family’s music. “But I also understand the plight of a son trying to make his own voice heard in the world.”

Being his father’s son may be a draw abroad, attracting curious listeners, but at home in Nigeria, it comes with considerable baggage. In 1977, enraged at Fela’s criticisms of corruption and military rule in songs and speeches, the Nigerian authorities burned down the Shrine, the Lagos nightclub and compound where Fela played and lived with his extended family; an imaginary version of the club serves as the setting of the musical.

With great effort, Fela’s survivors have built a New Africa Shrine in a different area of Lagos. But Mr. Kuti complains that the government, now nominally in civilian hands under President Goodluck Jonathan, looks for excuses to shut the club down, harasses its patrons and bans some of his music from the radio. That, in large part, is why he welcomes the increased visibility that “Fela!” has brought him.

“This democratic era is a farce,” he said, adding that his next CD, to be called “Africa for Africa” and due out later this year, will address this and related topics. “It’s the same corrupt leaders, the same corrupt godfathers. The military are taking off their uniforms and are pretending to be politicians. The government is clowns as far as I am concerned.”

But with time and experience, Mr. Kuti has also learned to be less confrontational than his father, who was beaten and arrested more than once. As Mr. Kuti once explained it, while his father would simply declare that “the government is a thief,” his own style is to try to be diplomatic, to say that he would prefer that the government stop stealing money.

“Fela was a complicated character, and Femi has tried to be very savvy about which aspects of the Fela legacy he embraces and which he distances himself from,” said Michael Veal, author of “Fela: The Life and Times of an African Music Icon” and leader of Michael Veal and Aqua Ife, a New York Afrobeat band. “He’s embraced the whole political heritage of Afrobeat.” But when it comes to marijuana and promiscuity, “he’s not advocating smoking, he doesn’t have a thousand women around him, and his band and his business are not chaotic. So I think he has dealt with it gracefully.”

Musically Mr. Kuti has also refined the Afrobeat sound. His younger brother Seun, also a saxophonist and singer, performs with the remnants of their father’s orchestra, Egypt ’80, and specializes in cover versions of Fela’s songs. But Femi Kuti writes almost all of his own material and has broadened the range of influences on Afrobeat.

“It’s a different rhythmic language and a different harmonic language too,” said Aaron Johnson, the musical director of “Fela!” and a member of the Afrobeat group Antibalas, the musical’s house band. “He’s retained the general framework while incorporating instrumental and rhythmic elements from the last 10 years of popular music, like having that four-on-the-floor house dance beat pushed to the front, for instance, when Fela had so many polyrhythms going on.”

Purists may not like those changes, which also include songs much shorter than the half-hour pieces that Fela typically favored, and have sometimes complained about them. But as Mr. Kuti noted, if he stuck to the classic Afrobeat sound, he would run the risk of being accused of imitating or copying his father.

Though he tours regularly, Mr. Kuti had a seven-year gap between studio CDs of new material, broken only in 2008 with the release of “Day by Day” (Mercer Street/Downtown). He spent much of that interval, he said, trying to expand his musicianship by studying trumpet and piano, both of which he now plays in his live shows with an orchestra, which includes a five-man horn section and three female dancers and backup singers.

“Femi has had the good sense not to try to reproduce his father’s music, and instead created his own interpretation of Afrobeat,” said Carlos Moore, author of the authorized biography “Fela: This Bitch of a Life” and a Cuban-born expert on tropical music. “He was determined to do that even before the death of his father, and has come up with a modern sound in tune with 21st-century tastes that can be played for audiences in both Africa and the West.”

And as Mr. Thompson was quick to point out, in person Mr. Kuti can be nearly as commanding a presence as his father. Mr. Thompson recalled their initial encounters, at recording sessions in 2000 in which he, other hip-hop, soul and funk stars collaborated with Mr. Kuti on a new version of “Water No Get Enemy,” one of Fela’s most anthemic songs, for a compilation CD for the Red Hot Organization, the coalition against AIDS.

“When Femi came to the studio to meet us, it was like a scene straight out of ‘Coming to America,’ ” the 1988 movie in which Eddie Murphy plays the prince of an imaginary African country, Mr. Thompson said. “He walked in like the king of Zamunda, with his entourage and all these royal-looking women, and me and Common and D’Angelo just looked at each other. But what was beautiful was that although he has his father’s charisma and authoritative stance, he is also very humble.”



A Prince of Afrobeat, Still Shouldering the Load of a Family Legacy

By JON PARELES, June 2009

Femi Kuti’s band, Positive Force, danced its way onstage at the Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza on Thursday night. Guitarists swayed in unison, horn players strutted, female backup singers shimmied and bumped, and they all moved to Mr. Kuti’s directions — left, right, down to the ground — after he made his entrance. The women kept shaking and swiveling their hips virtually nonstop through the set, to a beat that merges rhythms from Mr. Kuti’s home, Nigeria, with funk, swing and reggae. As they danced, they sang choruses like “Stop AIDS, fight AIDS.” For Mr. Kuti, in a family tradition, dance music carries messages.

The rhythm is Afrobeat, which was forged by Mr. Kuti’s father, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, from the 1970s until his death in 1997 (of complications from AIDS). It is virtually inseparable from protest and a social conscience. In “You Better Ask Yourself,” from Femi Kuti’s most recent album, “Day by Day” (Mercer Street), the lyrics wonder why Africa, with all its natural resources, still has the “majority of the poorest people.” Often, the songs rail against a problem that both Fela and Femi Kuti have condemned: government corruption.

On May 28, as Femi Kuti was preparing for the United States tour that started with Thursday’s concert, the state government announced a permanent shutdown of the club he and a sister built in Lagos, the New Afrika Shrine, citing “noise nuisance, illegal street trading, indiscriminate parking, blocking of access roads and obstruction of traffic.” (It is named after the Shrine, his father’s club from the ’70s and a center of defiance until it was shut down by the government after Fela’s death.) This permanent closing didn’t last; the New Afrika Shrine was allowed to reopen on Tuesday. Onstage, Mr. Kuti spoke about the closing and the reopening, saying that the Nigerian government was not strong enough to send him to prison, as it had his father, or it would have already done so. Then he called for a united Africa.

Mr. Kuti’s Afrobeat moves in ways established by his father. Behind Mr. Kuti’s vocals, it can simmer along, with accents flickering on high-hat cymbal and snare drum amid rippling keyboards and guitar. It can ease back, turning into a subdued midtempo pulse, for guitar and horn solos that approach jazz. And it can switch into brawny funk when the horn section kicks in with choppy, insistent lines anchored by baritone saxophone. Femi Kuti adds variations of his own: passages of vocal counterpoint, undercurrents of a hip-hop beat and, especially on the new album, hints of Caribbean rhythms.

The set was more party than protest. As a bandleader — who sings and plays trumpet, alto saxophone or electric organ in various songs — Mr. Kuti is a master of dynamics. Each song shifted repeatedly between smooth and punchy, triggering a new burst of dancing with every change. But there was no mistaking Mr. Kuti’s didactic mission. Even when he turned to the subject of sex in the set’s finale, “Beng Beng Beng,” he proffered advice and instructions — about not rushing things — as the Afrobeat groove pulsated and surged behind him.


Oct 6, 2010

Monophonics - Into The Infrasounds


Monophonics is a prime example of the talent spewing forth from the streets of San Francisco and the musical standards set by the Bay Area for many decades. Since forming in 2005, Monophonics has become the hottest funk band in the Bay Area with their retro sound, style, and approach stemming from the late 1960’s and 1970’s. Winners of SF Weekly’s “Best of the Bay” Award for Funk/Soul/R&B band and featured in Relix Magazine’s “On The Rise” column, a new album and tour will ensure that 2010 is the breakout year for the band.

On September 25, 2010, Monophonics will headline The Independent in San Francisco to celebrate the release of their second full-length album, which features guest performances by Karl Denson (Greyboy Allstars, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe), Mic Gillette (Tower of Power) and Jonathan Korty (Vinyl). Joining Monophonics will be soul-rock band Grillade and DJ Colt 45. As a special thank you, a free digital download of the new album will be sent to all advanced ticket purchasers before the album is available to the general public. In addition, all members of the Monophonics fan club will be able to purchase tickets before the general public. (You must be on the Monophonics email list no later than 12:00pm PT on July 28 to gain access to the pre-sale.)

Since releasing their debut album “Playin and Simple” in September 2007, the band’s popularity has grown thanks to performances at such major festivals as New Orleans Jazz Fest, High Sierra Music Festival, Joshua Tree Music Festival and Las Tortugas Festival. Members of the band also appear on The New Mastersounds’ album, “Live in San Francisco.” But perhaps a review by the website Jambase.com best sums up what Monophonics is all about:

“Monophonics has been stirring quite the buzz throughout the bay area over the last few years with their organic seven piece funk out fit that sends the dance floor into a fury with their horn section that never disappoints.”

• 4 performances at New Orleans Jazzfest (2010)
• Performed at High Sierra Music Festival (2008)
• Performed at Joshua Tree Music Festival (2009)
• Performed at Las Tortugas Festival (2008, 2007)
• Best Funk/Soul/R&B band in SF Weekly’s Best Of The Bay Awards 2007
• Tour history spans more than 300 dates
• Featured on live album from The New Mastersounds
• Forthcoming album features Karl Denson, Mic Gillette and members of Vinyl



“Monophonics [is] another prime example of the talent spewing forth from the streets of San Francisco and surrounding areas. With their retro sound, style, and approach, they have become one of the hottest upcoming live instrumental funk bands with inspirations stemming from the late 1960s and 1970s.”
Sacramento Blog

“Never one to offer audiences a breather, Monophonics, looking like they’d raided the Art Ensemble of Chicago’s closet and make-up drawer, funneled nasty strangeness into funky frames after the Hips.”
Dennis Cook, Jambase.com

“Monophonics has been stirring quite the buzz throughout the bay area over the last few years with their organic seven piece funk out fit that s ends the dance floor into a fury with their horn section that never disappoints.”
Falcore & Friends, Jambase.com

“Since forming in 2005, Monophonics quickly made a name for themselves, keeping the big horn-driven instrumental funk sound of the ’60s and ’70s alive with countless gigs around the Bay Area and beyond.”
SF Weekly

“One of the best bands to come out of Marin in 10 years.”
19 Broadway Nite Club

“Marin County’s “band of the year,” the fabulous Monophonics, featuring their powerfull trademark horn section – and rhythm section. This band knows how to get a party started. The ecstatic fans were jumping all over the place until the show ended and since nobody was ready to go home, they begged for more.”
Mike Ghiringhelli, Ross Valley Reporter

“This up-and-coming young band takes influence from the classic funk era of the 1960s and 1970s, and the dance floor is sure to fill up fast.”
Pacific Sun

“The power and the freshness of the sound knocked me out. Always great to hear horns over a funky groove, these boys are bad.”
Narada Michael Walden

“The acclaimed Horn Driven funk unit, *MONOPHONICS* is an electrifying band with unforgettable music. A Funky Bay Area sensation that will burn it down…”
Sunset Promotions

“The hottest horn-driven Funk this year”
Alex Andreas, The Boom Boom Room

“It’s no secret I’m fond of Vinyl, the Greyboy Allstars, and Herbie Hancock’s fusion era, and the Monophonics, to my ears, are sonically reminiscent of each while creating something fresh and funky.”
Matt Kramer, Marin Scope

“This band is a band on the rise. These young players are cooking up a hearty stew of funky rhythms. Catch them now and you will be able to say you were there when the party was just getting hot — of course they have had more of a year of being hot and show no signs of cooling down. Its a bold beat and a fun time.”
Guy Myers, Bandlands.com


1. Goliath 5:03
2. $2.50 3:14
3. Simon's Song 4:57
4. I'm Done 5:11
5. Ageless (feat. Karl Denson) 6:23
6. Low Blow 4:12
7. Grappa 4:56
8. Agamemnon 4:22
9. Filth Flarn Filth (feat. Karl Denson) 7:29
10. Can't Leave It Alone 4:44
11. Rotten Ribs 3:40
12. Loose Nukes (feat. Karl Denson) 3:42
13. Nunu 4:04

Oct 4, 2010

Ariya Astrobeat Arkestra - Crosstown Traffic E.P.

The Ariya Astrobeat Arkestra formed in late 2007 when members of the Kidkanevil live show and First Word stalwarts Homecut began a series of late night afrobeat sessions at Leeds’s Sela Bar. It was out of these jam sessions that The Ariya Astrobeat Arkestra was born, combining their love of afrobeat with their appreciation of the space jazz pioneers of the 70’s and the free jazz trailblazers of the 60’s, coupled with a hefty nod towards James Brown. Individually they have been lucky enough to Perform with the likes of Yarah Bravo, Gilad Atzmon, Jehst, The New Mastersounds, The Haggis horns, Kidkanevil, Homecut, Kissey Asplund and Ty, to name a few. They are currently in the studio recording their debut album, which should see the light of day later in the year… It's worth noting that the above tunes are live tracks and demos only. Proper studio tracks'll follow in due time...

... from their myspace page!


First Word are proud to present the Ariya Astrobeat Arkestra, the latest product of the same Northern music scene that produced the likes of The Haggis Horns and The New Mastersounds.The Ariya Astrobeat Arkestra formed in late 2007 when members of the kidkanevil live show and First Word stalwarts Homecut began a series of late night afrobeat sessions at Leeds' Sela Bar. It was out of these jam sessions that the 8 piece Arkestra was born, combining their love of afrobeat with their appreciation of the space jazz pioneers of the 70's and the free jazz trailblazers of the 60's, coupled with a hefty nod towards James Brown.Lead track 'Crosstown Traffic' needs no introduction a firing cover of the Hendrix classic, this is instant dancefloor dynamite. Already getting plays on Craig Charles Funk & Soul show, this is set to be a must-have record for any DJ in the funk / afro / jazz scene. On the flip 'Lost in Kinshasa' is another driving afrobeat club track, with the Ariya horns to the fore.

In 2010 they recorded their debut album for First Word Records. “Crosstown Traffic/Lost In Kinshasa”, the first single to be taken from the album, will be released in March and has already garnered much praise. A second single will follow in the summer with the album being released in the autumn.



01 Crosstown Traffic 4:05
02 Lost In Kinshasa (45Edit) 4:08
03 Lost In Kinshasa (Full Version) 7:25

Ebo Taylor - Love And Death

Information from the record label

Strut link up with one of the true greats of Ghanaian music, Ebo Taylor, for his first ever internationally released studio album.

Following the wartime big band highlife pioneers like E.T. Mensah, Taylor became a major figure in Ghanaian highlife during the 1950s and ’60s as highlife exploded. Cutting his teeth with leading big bands like Stargazers and Broadway Dance Band, Ebo Taylor quickly rose through the ranks and became a prolific composer and frontman. Taylor moved to London in 1962 to study. “I had the Black Star Highlife Band sponsored by the Ghanaian High Commission, mainly comprising music students. We tried to incorporate jazz into highlife and progressed through talking and through jam sessions, trying to develop our skills and ideas.”

Back in Ghana, Taylor became an in-house arranger and producer for labels like Essiebons, working with other leading Ghanaian stars including C.K. Mann and Pat Thomas. “I was paid to write for them and we made some great records. People were trying new things – I always loved C.K. Mann’s ’Funky Highlife’. It was fresh.“ Through the mid-‘70s and into the ‘80s, Taylor then recorded a number of solo projects, exploring unique fusions and borrowing elements from traditional Ghanaian sounds, Fela’s Afrobeat, jazz, soul and funk. Tracks like ‘Heaven’ now stand as among the best Ghanaian Afrobeat of the era.

Interest in Ebo Taylor’s music has grown in recent years with a series of Ghanaian compilations on Soundway Records and Analog Africa and an unexpected sample as Usher lifted a riff from ‚Heaven’ for his hit with Ludacris, ‘She Don’t Know’. A new Ebo Taylor album was a natural progression. “For new album, I wanted to advance the cause of Afrobeat music. Fela started it and we shouldn’t just abandon it. We should push it so it is a standard form of music.“ The result is a firing new set backed by Afrobeat Academy, a Berlin-based collective of international musicians. Tracks include new versions of Taylor classics ‘Victory’ and ‘Love And Death’ and a selection of new compositions including ‘Kwame’, celebrating Ghana’s late, lamented leader Kwame Nkrumah.



Ebo Taylor's Journey Through African Music

A musician since the age of six, Ebo Taylor is one of the most achingly honest voices in African music. His songs have a timeless quality to them, and continue to reach new audiences worldwide. On the eve of his first internationally distributed solo album, Ebo Taylor sat down with the Strut crew to speak about his entrance into the professional music circuit, his interaction with African legends like Fela Kuti and CK Mann, and how he hooked up with Berlin outfit Afrobeat Academy. Love And Death will be out in October on Strut.



The past few years have been good ones for African music. While the likes of Damon Albarn and Vampire Weekend have led a new wave of interest in incorporating African rhythms and sounds into indie and rock, Madlib’s third installment in his twelve part Medicine show series showed that hip-hop artists have also started to look to Africa for beat making inspiration.As is often the case when Western artists start getting enthusiastic about music from countries that were previously off their radar, this interest in African sounds has brought new opportunities for musicians who have been plying their trade for some time with only modest success. One such case is the Ghanaian guitarist and producer Ebo Taylor, who has been making music since the 1950s but has only now got an international solo release. A mixture of new tracks and fresh takes on classic Taylor compositions, Love and Death sees Taylor join forces with a group of musicians including members of the Poets of Rhythm to produce a classy and tight piece of Afrobeat. Standout tracks include the opener, “Nga Nga,” and “Kwame,” which highlight both Taylor’s ear for a good rhythm and the quality of the musicians he’s worked with on the album. All pretty impressive for a 74 year old! Top marks to Strut for putting this record out.



01 Nga Nga
02 African Woman
03 Love And Death
04 Victory (Instrumental)
05 Mizin
06 Kwame (Instrumental)
07 Aborekyair Aba
08 Obra