Chicago’s Occidental Brothers Dance Band Int’l are pleased to announce a new collaboration with Congolese music legend, the great Samba Mapangala! Playing the best-loved songs from both artists’ repertoires, the group is now also playing new songs that fuse together all their strengths.
The Occidental Brothers’ blend of high-energy soukous, rootsy Ghananian Highlife and African Jazz conjures sounds of the golden age of the African guitar band and has made them favorites of of music critics and devotees of the style, but it’s a sound that has also seduced an audience of listeners as diverse as the members of this multi-racial band. The group is led by guitarist Nathaniel Braddock, an instructor at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music and twice profiled in Guitar Player Magazine. Braddock is joined by jazz phenom Greg Ward on alto, Joshua Ramos on bass and Makaya McCraven on drums. After playing the Pitchfork festival in 2008 and GlobalFest in January 2009, the OBDBI experienced a meteoric rise–graduating from Chicago street festivals to the stages of Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, the Montreal and Vancouver Jazz Festivals in the course of a year. Major 2010 appearances include the Taste of Chicago, Chicago Folk and Roots Festival, Music Meeting in Nijmegen, NL, Moers Festival in Moers, Germany, and the Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh.
Congolese singer Samba Mapangala is one of the true legends of African music. In the 1970’s he traveled from Kinshasa with his group Les Kinois to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi where he rebuilt the group as Virunga. For twenty years Mapangala and Virunga were the kings of the East African music scene, recording countless hits, many included on the cd “Virunga Volcano”, recognized in the book “World Music: 100 Essential CDs” by Simon Broughton. He sings in the mellifluous, but rhythmically complex style of the Congolese singers, but sings in Swahili as much as his native Lingala.
The first OBDBI/Mapangala collaboration was the greatly-applauded tribute song “Obama Ubarikiwe” in celebration of the aspiring presidential candidate, and a favorite son of Chicagoans and Africans alike. Mapangala and the OBDBI began performing together in the fall of 2009, and have recently begun recording music for release in early 2011.
The band is currently booking 2011 performances in North America, Africa, and Europe.
"Odo Sanbra" Press Quotes:
“This disc convinces me that the greatest African dance band on the planet this year hails from Chicago.”
-Norman Weinstein, The BEAT vol 26 no 3
“One of ten must-sees at the Pitchfork festival: a blend of Chicago and West Africa, with the dancefloor as common ground.”
-Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune 20 July 2008
“You could easily believe the tracks on this very sharp cd were recorded in Kinshasa or Accra years ago rather than quite recently in Chicago…OBDBI offer up simply stunning instrumentals recalling the golden ages of rumba, highlife and other African styles”
-T. Orr, World Music Central, 12 May 2007
“Like they say so much more often than is true–sweet. A-”
-Robert Christgau’s Consumers’ Guide, June 2009
“On Odo Sanbra, Occidental Brothers Dance Band International earn a place alongside their highlife forebears by doing their own thing with the music and emerging with a sound that pays tribute to the past while moving the form forward… If highlife is going to get the revival it deserves, it could scarcely ask for better ambassadors.”
-Joe Tangari, Pitchfork.com, 3 June 2009
“A feeling of confidence prevails as well as a sense that this mixed bag of Americans and Africans have found a music that feels like home. Odo Sanbra restores the colour and heft to the nearly forgotten party music of another continent.”
-Richard Henderson, The Wire, Sept 2009