With over 200 compilations spanning latin, afro, zouk, Brazilian music, soul, flamenco, Irish traditional music, and even rockabilly, Cajun, zydeco and rock & roll under his belt, John is one of the most prolific compilers in the country and a fountain of musical knowledge surpassed by very few. He wrote, devised, and presented BBC Radio 2’s Viva Latino bringing a fully-dedicated latin music show to the BBC for the first time, with worldwide listening figures reaching 9 million at one point!
On this brilliant new compilation for BBE he has dug deep into the Afrobeat bands coming out of Brazil and it’s as fresh as a ripe mango, Fela Kuti and Tony Allen’s rhythms as a starting point not as a mirror. Influences from everywhere mesh and entwine with the classic Afrobeat horn and percussion template giving us a collection unlike any other.
Album opener ‘Origem’ by Lebanese-Brazilian provocateur André Abujamra incorporates Middle Eastern and even Irish instrumentation and melodies into the Afrobeat sound creating a propulsive party monster that would fizz up the drink of any Balkan music lovers as well as Fela fans.
On the hypnotic ‘Wababa’ Brazilian reggae guitarist André Sampaio teams up with Sekou Diarra from Mali trading guitar licks into a funky mid tempo stew straight from the desert. Afrobeat stretched to its limits. Gorgeous.
Camarão Orkestra are a French orchestra playing Brazilian music in an Afrobeat style (as you do) and this 2016 release ‘Afoxê’ is pure groove. An eight minute workout setting off with the traditional afoxê rhythm before taking off into Roy Ayers/George Duke territory, the edges smoothing out but the funk deep in the pocket. Can’t wait to road test this baby!
There are plenty of full throttle heart-racers on this compilation like IFÁ’s banging ‘Salva Dor’ and Bixiga 70’s‘ punky driven ‘5 Esquinas’ but it is the more left of centre, mid tempo tracks that are grabbing me straightaway. Otto Nasca’s ‘Democracia’ political maracatu and the Addis Ababa soul-jazz of Thiago França’s ‘Etiópia’ keeping the tempo down but the heat high and close.
All of the tunes here have been released between 2011 to 2017 and they all nod towards the past as much as the present in some way but the future is also represented with newcomer Ellen Oléria’s heavy dubbed out ‘Afrofuturo’ with its massive upfront tribal drums and sub bass and Lucas Santtana’s odd electronics and playful Tropicália explorations.
An excellent addition to the Afrobeat canon and a welcome reminder of the global reach of music where rhythms, melodies and traditions straddle continents and time. Onwards and upwards!
John will be hosting a free launch of the album the BBE store at The Institute Of Light in East London on the 24th June! https://www.facebook.com/events/238011556685049/
BUY THE ALBUM HERE! https://www.bbemusic.com/downloads/afrobeat-brasil/
Review by Ex-Friendly