Monday, November 29, 2010

Akoya Afrobeat Ensemble at Southpaw Next Friday Night

One of the nastiest afrobeat bands on the planet, Akoya Afrobeat Ensemble, is hitting the stage at Southpaw in BK next Friday night. $10 is a small price to pay to hear this afrobeat juggernaut send earthshaking afro-grooves through the dancefloor at one of Brooklyn's premier music venues. They're joined on the bill by dub outfit The Top Shotta and soul ensemble The Corner Club featuring members of Antibalas, Akoya Afrobeat and Ikebe Shakedown. If you want to dance, show up at Southpaw next Friday night with ten dollars in your pocket.

Akoya Afrobeat Ensemble - Wahala by afrobeatblog

Chorizo Chunks 9

If you need a soundtrack for your dance party, hit play on this bangin set from DJ Chorizo Funk.

Chorizo Chunks 9 - DJ Chorizo Funk Live @ Night Fever V. 7 by chorizofunk

Monday, November 22, 2010

New Sofrito Tropical Discotheque Mixtape

If you've been to one of the legendary Sofrito Tropical Discotheque Parties in either London, Brooklyn, Greece, or wherever else, you don't need me to tell you, they know how to make people dance. If you haven't, check out this track from their new comp due out January 24th of 2011 on Strut Records.

Fair Nick Stars - Arrete Mal Parle by afrobeatblog

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Concert Review: Luisa Maita at Lula Lounge, Toronto-November 12, 2010 (photos courtesy of Dave Burke)

Luisa Maita proved why she's one of the hottest acts on the international music scene last Friday night at Lula Lounge in Toronto. Her stage presence, passion, and beautiful voice were all on full display in a night packed with Brazilian music from start to finish featuring Roda de Samba, Baque de Bamba, and Rino.

Luisa kicked the night off with an early performance around 8:30. Performing for the first time in Canada, she came across as being truly honored such a large audience was in attendance. Her performance was full of passion, and the crowd responded to her energy enthusiastically.

Next up on the bill was Rode de Samba, a Toronto based Samba ensemble. As their set went on, the audience began to congregate in front of the stage singing along to their songs and dancing. The six-piece ensemble injected a large dose of energy into the night after Luisa Maita's mellow performance that set the tone for the rest of the night.

Baque de Bamba, a maracatu ensemble led by Aline Morales, followed Rode de Samba, and picked up where they left off. The thundering drums of the legion of percussionists filled the room with an incredible energy that unleashed a frenzy on the dancefloor. Morales voice contrasted beautifully with the percussion backdrop as she sang in Portuguese. I was totally blown away by the power and energy of Baque de Bamba, and I definitely hope to see them again sometime soon.

Rino finished off the night with a bang. Rino featured guitar, bass, trombone, trap drums, as well as maracatu bass drums creating a loud, intensely unique sound. They combined elements of funk, rock, samba, and something totally new and original. Watching a band cover songs by Jorge Ben with a presentation similar to punk rock was something I've never seen before. Despite a somewhat lengthy gap between their performance and Baque de Bambe while they setup, Rino managed to not lose any of the energy that was building throughout the night.

This Post is Supported by Concert Tickets Toronto 2011

Monday, November 8, 2010

Album Review: Afrocubism

Afrocubism is the project of which lovers of international music have only dreamt. One such dreamer, British producer Nick Gold, originally conceived of the project in 1996--pairing the best musicians from Mali with the best musicians from Cuba, two countries that have been speaking each other's musical languages for generations. The project failed to materialize the first time around; the Malian contingent couldn't make it to Havana, so Gold improvised and came up with Buena Vista Social Club. Not a bad substitute, but Gold persisted. He reconvened the all-star cast of musicians, this time in Spain, and "the music just poured out" according to Gold, recording 17 songs in 5 days. Musicians featured on the record include Eliades Ochoa, Djelimady Tounkara, Toumani Diabate, Bassekou Kouyate, Kasse Mady Diabaté, Lassana Diabaté, and Eliades' Grupo Patria.

Afrocubism - DJelimady Rumba by afrobeatblog

The album came out November 2, 2010 on World Circuit Records, and has universally lived up to the astronomical expectations which preceded it. It's infinitely interesting to listen to this album and ponder whether the African or Cuban elements are more prominent. It's a nearly impossible task to decipher since Cuban music is deeply influenced by its African roots. In part for that reason, West African music is deeply influenced by Cuban music. Francophone West African post-colonial governments also sent their budding musicians to train in Havana which helped usher in a generation of African musicians who were trained to emulate the Cuban aesthetic. Records and 45s from several Latin-American countries were widely distributed and consumed throughout West Africa beginning around the 1950's. Djelimady Tounkara even honed his guitar skills by accompanying Cuban radio hits.

This album has an entrancing sound that flows from song to song. Djelimady's mesmerizing guitar meshes with the relentlessly propulsive churning bass, gliding over the backdrop of congas, shekere, guiro, tala, and other varied percussion. Ochoa's vocals blend perfectly with the instrumental backdrop. Certain songs feature one instrumentalist more than others, such as Dakan featuring Bassekou Kouyate, Djelimady Rumba featuring Djelimady Tounkara, and Eliades Tumbao 27 featuring Eliades Ochoa. The instrument that provides the most character to the album throughout, in my opinion, is the balafon. It cuts through the already rich texture and adds a concise timbre to the composition.

This album is a testament to the cross-cultural exchange that has occurred for centuries and made its creation possible. Hopefully it will serve as inspiration for future collaborations. The ensemble is performing at Town Hall in midtown Manhattan tomorrow night and then touring Europe. If you are in any way able, I highly recommend seeing this group of musicians live. This collection of music provides a new definition to the term, Afro-Cuban.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Luisa Maita - New Remix Album - N. American Tour

If you haven't heard about Luisa Maita by now, it's about time you have. She's the Brazilian songstress taking the international music scene by storm, and her North American Tour kicks off tomorrow night at SOB's in New York. Her debut internationally released album, Lero Lero, came out earlier this year on Cumbancha Records and has garnered widespread critical acclaim. Her second release on Cumbancha, Luisa Remixed, is due out November 9th.

Luisa Maita - Lero-Lero (Seiji Remix) by afrobeatblog

If you can make it to one of the cities on Luisa's tour schedule, definitely check out this rising star while you have the chance:

11-03 New York, NY - S.O.B.'s
11-04 Washington D.C. - Bohemian Caverns
11-05 Philadelphia, PA - Kimmel Center
11-06 Montreal, QC - Belle et Bum
11-07 Burlington, VT - Flynn Space
11-09 Portland, ME - One Longfellow Square
11-10 Somerville, MA - Johnny D's
11-11 Montreal, QC - Balattou
11-12 Toronto, ON - Lula Lounge
11-13 Chicago, IL - Logan Square
11-14 Minneapolis, MN - Cedar Cultural Center
11-15 San Francisco, CA - Amoeba Records Instore
11-16 San Francisco, CA - Yoshi's
11-17 Santa Cruz, CA - Kuumbwa Jazz Center
11-18 Los Angeles, CA - KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic
11-19 Los Angeles, CA - Conga Room

Monday, November 1, 2010

Album Review: Hard Proof

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.

Hard Proof will be celebrating the release of their new album on November 19th at the Ghost Room in Austin. If you're in the Lone Star State and you're hungry for some afro-love, definitely check them out. I haven't seen them live in concert yet, but listening to the album, you can hear their ability to push, build and release the energy of the music from song to song.

Hard Proof - Jimma by afrobeatblog

Bouncing Cats-New Film about Hip-Hop Culture in Uganda

Bouncing Cats is the inspiring story of one man's attempt to create a better life for the children of Uganda using the unlikely tool of hip-hop with a focus on b-boy culture and breakdance. The film features narration by Common and interviews with Will.I.Am, and K'Naan. Stay tuned for screenings in your community. Get tickets for the DC screening here.

Bouncing Cats Trailer from Bouncing Cats on Vimeo.