Jun 10, 2011

Afrobeat from Detroit: Odu Afrobeat Orchestra - Revenge Of The One-Eyed Hyena

In Yoruba mythology, an Odù is one of 256 divinatory principals, each associated with a traditional set of verses (or Ese), representing thousands of years of observations and predictions. In the Detroit music scene, Odu is an Afrobeat Orchestra comprised of the city’s best musicians, each of different genres, age, race, and background, representing Detroit’s strength in it’s musical diversity, and always delivers nothing short of a spiritual experience with every performance they give. The group is led by Adeboye Adegbenro on vocals/alto/tenor saxophone, who came to Detroit via Lagos, Nigeria, where he used to sit it with the great bandleader Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Fela Kuti, founder and namesake of Afrobeat, whose countless vinyl re-issues and work with greats such as Cream’s Ginger Baker have brought Afrobeat to the forefront of African music in recent years. Although the primary output of Afrobeat music was recorded in the nineteen seventies, many have continued to carry on its unbelievably funky rhythms and unmistakable sound. Over the years we have witnessed everyone from Brian Eno and David Byrne to Ann Arbor’s Nomo taking cues from Afrobeat’s grooves, yet few have managed to do this while retaining the spiritual roots woven deep within the beat—the soul, of you will. Odu is one of the few that do, a child of tradition, bringing dance and even (their namesake) The Odù Ifá, whose sixteen principals of divination also double as rhythm patterns.

Adegbenro has kept a good family of musicians behind him over Odu’s five years or so as a band. The current lineup includes the exiled Bohemian National Home’s founder and coordinator Joel Peterson on bass; Emmanuel on drums; Nick Schillace on guitar; Dan Velic on guitar; Marko Novachcoff on baritone sax; Michael Carey on tenor sax; Sam Beaubian on trumpet; Jennie Knaggs with vocals/percussion; Ryan Gates on percussion; and Bill Hafer on percussion.



Contemporary Afro Funk from Detroit – and a set that's almost rootsier than any other groups of this nature we can think of! The lineup is heavy on horns, and comes across with a slightly righteous jazz touch too – possibly because of the great interplay between all of the saxes, and the group's reliance on almost all acoustic instrumentation for their rhythms – save a bit of bass and guitar! The production is just right for the sound, too – and really carries the intensity of the performance nicely – energy that never lets up as the group stretches out over long tracks that include "Afrobeat Principles #1", "Revenge Of The One Eyed Hyena", "No More No More", and "16 Cowries". (Limited edition – with insert.)



Odu Afro-beat Orchestra is another local ensemble exploring the legacy of Afro-beat while bringing listeners to the dance floor. Its lineup sees jazz players alongside vets of such rock-oriented local groups as His Name is Alive and Human Eye. Led by saxophonist-vocalist Adeboye Adegbenro, the 15-piece group includes drummer Kevin Callaway, bassist Joel Peterson, guitarists Chris “Crispy” Fachini and Chad Gilchrist, conga players Akunda Brian Hollis and Bill Hafer, saxophonists Michael Carey and Marco Novachcoff, and trumpeter John Douglas. The lineup mixes freely across age, race and musical background. Adegbenro actually learned the ropes from Fela Kuti himself while still living in Lagos in the late 1980s, regularly performing with Fela’s band at a club in the same neighborhood as the bandleader’s legendary, long-shuttered Shrine nightclub.



01. Afrobeat Principles #01
02. Revenge Of The One-Eyed Hyena
03. No More, No More
04. 16 Cowries

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