The "problem" with this album is that the title suggests one thing and the music itself delivers another. The Afrobeat Chronicles suggests an album of post-Fela Anikulapo Kuti, in-the-groove, hot and raw Nigerian Afrobeat. This first impression is reinforced by a glance at the personnel listing, which is packed with horn players, drummers and percussionists and evokes memories of Kuti's classic Afrika 70 and Egypt 80 lineups.
All of which proves you can't judge a disc by looking at its cover (not always, anyway). The main thrust of bandleader/keyboardist Funsho Ogundipe's music is altogether dreamier, prettier and gentler than the totemic word Afrobeat suggests. Look closer at the personnel listing and you notice a cello, acoustic guitars, a flute, a clarinet, a bass clarinet and a Steinway grand piano. There may have been a flute from time to time, but I can't remember ever seeing the other instruments onstage at Kuti's Kalakuta club.
Yes, something other than straightline Afrobeat is abroad hereand once you've recalibrated your head and redirected your expectations, you'll likely find it enchanting and distinctly more-ish. If this is Afrobeat, it's cooked in a slower oven and spiced with ingredients from further afield than in Kuti's day. Countries represented in the band include Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Chile, Belize, Scotland and Ghana, all of whom bring traces of their native cultures to the mix.
There are two explicitly Afrobeat tracks"Revenge Of The Flying Monkeys Part 2" and "Mr XYZ"and both, appropriately, were recorded in Lagos (the rest of the album was made in London). At seven and nine minutes respectively, they are, also appropriately, amongst the longest tracks. Even these tunes, however, are far from standard Afrobeat: irresistibly funky, but cooler and looser. Ogundipe's bluesy Steinway colours "Flying Monkeys," while Rob Lavers plays delightful flute on "Mr XYZ." Both tracks are distinguished by the outstanding electric bassist Falna Amodu King.
The other tracks have an even wider focus. There's a Latin feel to the toplines of "Oga!" (pidgin for "big shot") and "Labi Igi Orombo" (Yoruba for "under the orange tree"), the first featuring Mike Collins' mellifluous Spanish guitar, the second Shabaka Hutchings' pretty clarinet. Trumpeter Byron Wallen's showcase, "Two In One (Les Ibeji)," is an impressionistic, post-In A Silent Way gem. It doesn't travel far over its seven minutes, but it travels deep, alongside Ogundipe's empathetic Fender Rhodes. Hutchings' bass clarinet is a highlight of "Song For Jenny," and Jenny Adejayan's cello is another. The bata drum choir on the title track, together with Curtis Shaw's Spanish guitar, make for another memorable tune.
This album reveals new layers of thoughtful beauty each time you listen to it.
Track Listing: Pepple Street Blues; Two In One (Les Ibeji); Oga!; Open Your Eyes...And Your Ears Too; Revenge Of The Flying Monkeys Part 2; Afrobeat.com; Mr XYZ; Labe Igi Orombo; Highlife No.2; Omo Obokun; Song For Jenny.
Personnel: Funsho Ogundipe: Steinway grand piano, Wurlitzer electric piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano, vocals; Ayo Odia (1,5,7), Ayo Solanke (5,7): tenor saxophone; Shabaka Hutchings (4,6,8,9,10,11): tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet; Rob Lavers (3,7): baritone saxophone, flute; Byron Wallen (1), Nathaniel Bassey (5,7): trumpet; Jim Mullen (1,4,6), Curtis Shaw (3,10), Mike Collins (3): electric guitar, acoustic guitar; Oroh Angiama (1), Nick Cohen (4,8,9), Falna Amodu King (5,7): electric bass; Karl Adedare Rasheed-Abel(3,6,11): electric bass, acoustic bass; Pharoah Russell (1,3,5,7), Robert Fordjour (6,11), Frank Tontoh (4,8,9); drums; Jenny Adejayan (3,11): cello; Nick Pamphilon (2), Jorge Santo (2,10), Dayo Rasaq-Ayandele (1,2,8,9,10): bata; Samson Olawale (5,7): congas; Angela Paz Alhucima (1-4,6,8-11): percussion; Kamoru Ayantunji (8), Hafiz (5,7,8): talking drum; Kwesi Frimpong (7): spoken word.
I was first exposed to Jazz when a couple of dear friends of mine turned me onto it around 1971. I was already into Progressive music, R n' B, Soul, Motown, Latin Rock and other styles that were a great ladder to Jazz
I was first exposed to Jazz when a couple of dear friends of mine turned me onto it around 1971. I was already into Progressive music, R n' B, Soul, Motown, Latin Rock and other styles that were a great ladder to Jazz.
Being a Musician myself, (Lead Guitar/Bass Guitar), I studied at the Dick Grove School of Music with Dick Grove, Jeff Richman and Lee Ritenour. This was around '84-'85. I started playing the Guitar in November 1967. Playing Guitar came quite naturally to me thank goodness. Though I spent hours upon hours practicing while my school buddies were doing Sports.
It was in the early '70s that I really got into Jazz, Jazz Rock, Jazz Fusion and World Music. Seeing Weather Report, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Larry Carlton, Steely Dan, John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, RTF, Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, VSOP, Freddie Hubbard and so many, many more amazing artists opened my eyes to the beauty and eloquent nature of Jazz. I really love the brilliant ensemble playing that is in Jazz!!
When I play and write music, it blends so many style together. Many fans ask me why my playing sounds so jazzy. It's because I understand Blue Notes, the phrasing, the tonality, time signatures and more. I can also play Rock, Folk, Soul, R n' B and other styles too. I seem to gravitate more and more as I get older to a jazzier style. Currently I'm 62 years old. I have released 2 CDs world-wide. Working on my 3rd.
I also teach Guitar/Bass/Music Theory to my students. They range from 6 years old to much, much older. (I was hired by the City of Aurora, CO to teach ages 6-13 specifically). Currently I teach 41 children in 5 classes. Additionally another 7 private students.
My wife, Meesh, and I love Jazz dearly. It was one of the things that we share together!
Most of the people that I know today do not get jazz. I try to explain what to listen for, but many times the music of Jazz is a bit much for them. So be it.
In a nutshell, I live, breath and listen to Music 24/7. No TV except the Food Channel and Weather.
I love John Kelman's articles. They are so insightful and well-constructed!
Thank you all for doing what you do.