Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Year in African Music

So everybody's doing it. I was asked along with my co-worker Tebukozza Babumba-Olatunji to do it. I did it. Here it top ten African Albums of the year.

1. Congotronics 3-Kasai All-Stars

2. Africa to Appalachia-Jayme Stone and Mansa Sissoko
3. Day by Day-Femi Kuti
4. Many Things-Seun Kuti
5. Mandé Variations-Toumani Diabate
6. Asa-Asa
7. Dununya-Kakande
8. Warchild-Emmanuel Jal
9. Rebel Woman-Chiwoniso
10. Made in Dakar-Orchestra Baobab

Album Review: The Macrotones-Wayne Manor

Wayne Manor, the debut album from The Macrotones, an eleven-piece afrobeat band out of Boston, is tight display of funk and percussive aggression that shows a lot promise for the group. Certain songs attack and punch you in the face from start to finish while others slowly creep, ebb, and flow, much like some of their biggest influences, Budos Band, Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Afrika 70, and Antibalas.

Funky basslines and tight rhythm section lay down a tight groove over which the horns drive the action and melody of the song in place of a vocalist. While there are only three horns in the eleven piece band, Nate Leskovic on trombone, Andy Bergman on baritone sax, and Jason Buhl on tenor and soprano, make their presence felt with authority with a heavy, deep register.

The percussion section really takes the identity of the album's overall sound. Since The Macrotones don't have a vocalist, they have an elongated, open texture. The clave, shekere, congas, and trap drums fill in the gaps and give the album its lasting impression.

The Macrotones are part of a growing faction of afrobeat bands throughout the east coast. Inspired by Fela and his contemporary disciples, they take on the same challenge as their peers: to continue the legacy of afrobeat with their own sound.

The Macrotones

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Red Hot Rio-BAM-December 5th, 2008

It was a night of beautiful music, dancing, and people from start to finish at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Red Hot Rio where 16 of the best Brazilian artists in the world touched the stage both contemporary and classic. From bossa nova to samba soul, Jobim to Tropicalia, it was a celebration of Brazilian culture that had the entire BAM Howard Gilman Opera house dancing and going crazy.

The stage was absolutely filled to capacity with Brazilian musicians. Curumin, Ceu, Bebel Gilberto, Jose Gonzalez, and Otto, rotated singing in front of the superstar backing band of Joao Parahyba, Moreno, Domenico, Kassin, Stephane San Juan, Alberto Continentino, Money Mark, Janja Gomes, Ze Luis, Jorge Continentino, and Carlos Darci. Featuring trumpet, trombone, tenor sax, baritone sax, two guitars, bass, 3 percussionists, and 3 singers, the total sound throughout the night achieved beautiful and rich melodies and harmonies, that resonated throughout BAM's beautiful opera house and were accentuated by visual projections.

It started with Jose Gonzalez serenading the audience with his velvety voice. Then Curumin came on the mic and picked things up a notch. Ceu followed and enchanted the crowd with her beautiful voice. Bebel Gilberto came on next and the crowd got progressively warmer. Then Otto came out and got everybody jumping. Things calmed down for a bit, but then the Harlem Samba drum line walked down the center aisle and onstage making the entire audience get on their feet.