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Angelique Kidjo/Femi Kuti at Denver Botanic Gardens

Geoff Anderson By

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Kuti was a whirlwind on stage, never standing still, singing to all sides of the audience-surrounded stage. He picked up his alto sax for several extended solos which featured circular breathing. Several times he went for three or four or five minutes playing without taking a breath. All at 5280 feet in elevation. Actually, just a few minutes of circular breathing is apparently far below Kuti's real capacity. Wikipedia says Kuti holds the world record for a single note sustained by circular breathing: 51 minutes, 35 seconds; probably set at a lower elevation.

The music brought forth by the 12 piece band was rich, complex, urgent and ever changing. With that many players, point and counter-point could be explored in all their varieties and nuances. Polyrhythms emerged, shifted, dissolved, evolved and revolved throughout the 75-minute set. Kuti's father, Fela, is credited with creating the Afrobeat style of music. It influenced the Talking Heads in the '70s and '80s and, with Femi, that beat goes on.

Kidjo Set List: Born Under Punches; Crosseyed and Painless; Cauri; Listening Wind; The Great Curve; Pata Pata; The Overlord; Houses in Motion; Afirika; Once in a Lifetime; Tumba; Burning Down the House

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