Review: Antibalas’s Antibalas

Antibalas: s/tAntibalas: s/t (Daptone, 8/7/12)

“Dirty Money”

Antibalas: “Dirty Money”

Having come back into fashion a decade ago, afrobeat isn’t so much resurgent as it is enduring. These days it might even more popular than it was in the 1970s — setting off dance parties, blasting over café speakers, occupying whole sections at record stores, and even influencing indie-rock records. Its immersion into the global mainstream is in large part due to the revived interest in Fela Kuti, the Nigerian afrobeat rebel whose life is chronicled as equal parts musical innovator and controversial social activist. Over the years protégés of Kuti’s Africa ’70 band have exploded everywhere from San Francisco to London, but none may have been more instrumental to afrobeat’s second coming in the States than the Brooklyn-based ensemble Antibalas.

World in Stereo: Angola Soundtrack: The Unique Sound of Luanda, 1965-1976

Each week, World in Stereo examines classic and modern world music while striving for a greater appreciation of other cultures.

Angola Soundtrack: The Unique Sound of Luanda, 1965-1976Various artists: Angola Soundtrack: The Unique Sound of Luanda, 1965-1976 (Analog Africa, 11/22/2010)

Ngoma Jazz: “Mi Cantando Para Ti”

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For its ninth catalog release, Frankfurt-based record label Analog Africa digs deep into the soul of Angola, the former Portuguese colony in south central Africa.  The compilation gives yet another exciting perspective into the remarkable number of African music styles that have bore into the global sound stage.  Angola Soundtrack: The Unique Sound of Luanda, 1965-1976, with its 44-page accompanying booklet, is one of the most complete Angolan music exhibitions released to date, bringing to light one of Africa’s most underestimated music scenes.

Morrow vs. Hajduch

Morrow vs. Hajduch: Mikrokolektyw’s Revisit

Scott Morrow is ALARM’s music editor. Patrick Hajduch is a very important lawyer. Each week they debate the merits of a different album.

Mikrokolektyw: RevisitMikrokolektyw: Revisit (Delmark, 6/15/10)

Mikrokolektyw: “Running Without Effort”
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Hajduch: Mikrokolektyw (pronounced micro-collective) is the Polish duo of Kuba Suchar and Artur Majewski. Together, they make a very primal sort of experimental jazz, rooted in Suchar’s one-man rhythm section of drums and Moog. Atop this framework, Majewski adds restrained, thoughtful trumpet lines. The result is head-nodding and hypnotic, and at times would not sound out of place in an Italian horror film scored by Goblin.

It also sounds like classic Chicago jazz fusion, like what Rob Mazurek‘s Isotope 217 and various Chicago Underground ensembles have accomplished.  The sparse, melodic trumpet playing owes a lot to Miles DavisIn a Silent Way, and there’s a punchy moment of ensemble playing (here, “ensemble” means Majewski doubled) in “Watermelon from the 80s” that sounds like a riff from a Fela Kuti song.  This guy would definitely call the cops on this album.

What We’re Seeing Saturday: Doppler Shift, Bustle in Your Hedgerow

It would have been killer to see Femi Kuti & Positive Force on Saturday, but the Afrobeat star’s US tour has been postponed until he recovers from illness.

The cancellation, at least, gives us a chance to catch two other strong options: the heavy, beat-driven jazz-rock of Doppler Shift and the keyboard-fueled Led Zeppelin covers of Bustle in Your Hedgerow.

Q&A: Melvin Gibbs on Brooklyn Roots, Brazilian Inspiration, and Upcoming Album

Jazz bassist Melvin Gibbs is an extremely diverse musician, and this musical diversification is exemplified by his new project, Melvin Gibbs’ Elevated Entity.

Hailed by some as the “best bassist in the world,” Gibbs expands his palette further on his forthcoming record, Ancients Speak, including tastes of Brazilian hip hop and African Yoruba culture.

Femi Kuti: Day By Day

Femi Kuti - Day By Day
Femi Kuti - Day By Day

As the eldest son of Nigerian activist, Afrobeat originator and certified legend Fela Kuti, who passed away in 1997, Femi Kuti has certainly had some enormous figurative shoes to fill. Fortunately for us, he’s thus far done a bang- up job, and his latest, Day By Day from Mercer Street Records, is not only a worthy addition to the catalog, but is perhaps his finest and most focused to date.