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Clip: Red Hot & Riot Live

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  • Carl Z.
    The original album is wonderful, probably my favorite ?uestlove production. In the Afro-Funk Groove
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 5, 2006
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      The original album is wonderful, probably my favorite ?uestlove production.

      <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/04/arts/music/04fela.html>

      In the Afro-Funk Groove of an Incorrigible Rebel

      By JON PARELES
      Published: December 4, 2006

      Fela Anikulapo Kuti's music, Afrobeat, has had a long and unlikely
      afterlife since he died in 1997. "Red Hot & Riot Live!," which started
      a two-night stand at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Friday, wasn't a
      rediscovery but one more affirmation.

      Presented on World AIDS Day, Friday's concert was a reunion for many
      of the musicians who appeared on "Red Hot & Riot," a 2002 anti-AIDS
      benefit album. (Mr. Kuti died of H.I.V.-related illness.) The concerts
      were also benefits, for African Services Committee, which helps
      immigrants with H.I.V. and AIDS.

      The African contingent onstage included Les Nubians, Cheikh Lô, Amadou
      et Mariam, Keziah Jones and, most important, Mr. Kuti's drummer, Tony
      Allen, who was the mainspring of Afrobeat. Mr. Kuti's songs were
      already hybrids of African and American music, and "Red Hot & Riot
      Live!," with Andres Levin of the Latin alternative band Yerba Buena as
      musical director, also bounced them toward the Caribbean.

      In Nigeria, Mr. Kuti was an incorrigible rebel, defying the government
      and denouncing corruption in his songs; he was repeatedly arrested,
      beaten and jailed. Afrobeat set Mr. Kuti's righteousness and defiance
      to African funk that dug in for a long siege. He mixed Nigerian
      rhythms with James Brown and jazz, and his songs take their time,
      vamping along at adamant medium tempos and taking turns among vocals,
      solos and brawny horn riffs. Afrobeat smolders and seethes, determined
      and danceable.

      Instead of waning with time, Afrobeat has proliferated. Two of Mr.
      Kuti's sons have led bands featuring his former sidemen. Mr. Allen has
      been making his own albums and collaborating widely. Bands like
      Antibalas, from New York City, have been picking up Mr. Kuti's old
      songs and writing new ones in his style.

      "Red Hot & Riot Live!" didn't try to recreate the bitter intensity of
      Mr. Kuti's own performances. It concentrated on the groove and let the
      protests — against poverty, war and what one song called the "colonial
      mentality" — speak for themselves. Yerba Buena, which has two drummers
      of its own and a Latin percussion section, was the core of the stage
      band, which included Meshell Ndegeocello on bass, who tinctured the
      Afrobeat bass lines with passages of thumb-popping and hints of
      reggae, and John Medeski on keyboards, playing flinty 1970s-style funk
      solos edged with distortion.

      And it had the groove: not just from Mr. Allen's drumming in some
      songs, with its subtle bass drum thumps and fastidiously shifting
      high-hat cymbal syncopations, but from an Afrobeat horn section
      anchored by Alex Harding's forceful baritone saxophone.

      There were guest rappers: Dead Prez, a duo that brought its own rhymes
      about ghetto survival. Yerba Buena's own singers, Pedro Martinez and
      CuCu Diamantes, sometimes brought out the ancestral connections
      between West African music and Afro-Latin incantations, and the
      percussion could layer rumba into the Afrobeat. The Africans — even
      Mr. Jones, from Nigeria, who sang and played some bluesy lead guitar —
      didn't imitate Mr. Kuti; they expanded his music from Nigerian to
      pan-African style. Cheikh Lô moved from an ominous whisper to the
      soaring lines of Senegalese griot singing in "Shakara"; Les Nubians,
      with Ms. Diamantes, were both flirtatious and assertive in "Upside
      Down" and "Water Not Get Enemy."

      The concert gave ample reason for the survival of Afrobeat. The music
      offers plenty of room for allies and kindred spirits, without ever
      surrendering its own stubborn identity.
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