Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » London Afrobeat Collective: Esengo

5

London Afrobeat Collective: Esengo

By

Sign in to view read count
London Afrobeat Collective: Esengo
Back in the day, when Fela Kuti invented Afrobeat—and yes, unlike practically every other music to emerge in the 20th century, Afrobeat was indeed the creation of one person—the music served two functions: to champion the rights and aspirations of post-colonial Black Africans, particularly those at the bottom of the pyramid, and to provide a soundtrack enabling any and everyone to have a good time.

It is now 27 years since Kuti passed and any Afrobeat worthy of the name still serves a political function, although the message has evolved and diversified as the music has spread out from Nigeria and become global. On a macro level, however, the message continues to be about liberation. And because one would have to be made of stone to fail to respond to its vibe, Afrobeat is still the perfect dancefloor music.

London Afrobeat Collective (LAC) has been spreading the message and lighting up dancefloors since 2010. The eight core musicians hail from England, France, Italy, Congo, Argentina and New Zealand and their take on Afrobeat is similarly rainbow hued. Lead singer Juanita Euka is from Congo—she is a niece of Franco Luambo, the godfather of Congolese rumba—and sings in Lingala and English. Opening track "Topesa Esengo Na Motema" translates as "Let us bring joy (esengo) to the heart" and blends Kuti's instrumental style with Luambo's Cuban-derived approach (see the video below). The song is dedicated to the freedom fighters who drove the Belgian colonialists out of Congo in 1960. Overall, the album tends to favor guitar rather than horn solos, possibly another echo of Luambo, arguably the finest African guitarist of his generation. In the ensemble sections, LAC's horns have classic Afrobeat's stabbing riffs down to a tee, and the solos, when we get them, are gritty.

LAC say their goal is to increase the positive energy in the world by making people dance. Esengo hits the spot.

Track Listing

Topesa Esengo Na Motema; My Way; Take Me To The Sea; Freedom; El Ritmo De Londres; De Kinshasa A Sono Bata.

Personnel

London Afrobeat Collective
band / ensemble / orchestra
Klibens Michelet
saxophone, baritone
Andy Watts
trumpet
Alex Szyjanowicz
guitar, electric
Richie Sweet
percussion
Additional Instrumentation

Alex Farrell: guitar; John Mathews: bass (2-5); Luigi Casanova: bass (1, 6); Gareth Buckland: piano and organ (5); Pat Kenny: trombone (5); Edmund Swinburn: tenor saxophone (2, 4).

Album information

Title: Esengo | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Canopy Records


Next >
So It Goes

Comments

Tags


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

More

DDG19 Big Band
Dani Gurgel
Legacy
Nick Finzer
Speak Moment
Dave Harrington - Max Jaffe - Patrick Shiroishi
Moab
Garza / Fawcett / Wojtowicz

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.