London-based trombonist Justin Thurgur is at home in several traditions. He plays contemporary English folk music with the band Bellowhead and Afrobeat with the Afrobeat Orchestra, the ensemble led by keyboard player Dele Sosimi , a childhood protégé of Fela Kuti, who has done more than any other musician to keep the Afrobeat flame alight in Britain.
Thurgur is also a member of keyboard player Kishon Khan's Lokkhi Terra meets Dele Sosimi, who mix Bangladeshi folk music and Cuban rumba and who on 2018's Cubafrobeat (Funkiwala) added Afrobeat to that already vibrant mix.
Most of the members of Bellowhead, the Afrobeat Orchestra and Lokkhi Terra play in two of the bands and several are heard in all three. The same interconnected cast peoples the eighteen-piece collective lineup on Thurgur's Many Faces, the follow-up to No Confusion (Funkiwala, 2016).
The music is sunny, upbeat, funk-infused dance music played with a jazz sensibility, and the band features outstanding soloists in Thurgur, Sosimi, Khan, trumpeter Graeme Flowers, saxophonist Simeon May and bass clarinetist James Allsopp. Ghanaian-born percussionist Afla Sackeyan alumnus of Collocutor, the outernational band led by Afrobeat Orchestra baritone saxophonist Tamar Osbornis heard on four of the six tracks, two of which, "The Reducation Of Mr Otheralisation" and "Iwa Re Re," are Afrobeat/soul-jazz hybrids cowritten by Thurgur and Sosimi.
Jazz began life as dance music and albums such as Many Faces demonstrate that it is possible to make music that moves listeners to shake a leg while also addressing the head and heart. A perfect soundtrack for what hopefully will be a long hot 2022 summer.
Be A Little Wiser; The Reeducation Of Mr Otheralisation; How It Is; Woman; The Reality Of Reality; Iwa Re Re.
In addition to writing and editing for All About Jazz, Chris is editor of the British style/culture/history magazine Jocks&Nerds and consultant Afrobeat historian for Google Arts & Culture and Partisan/Knitting Factory Records.