CHOPTEETH, CHOPTEETH LIVE (GRIGRI DISCS)
[DUNKELBUNT]
A NEW DAY; LAYA PROJECT REMIXED
ADDIS ACOUSTIC PROJECT
AFRO ROOTS WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL
AMADOU & MARIAM
ANTÓNIO ZAMBUJO
APHRODESIA
BALKANBEATS
BANCO DE GAIA
BOBAN I MARKO MARKOVIC ORKESTAR
BOBAN I MARKO MARKOVIC
BOY WITHOUT GOD
C.J. CHENIER
CARLOS GOGO GOMEZ
CHOBAN ELEKTRIK
CHOPTEETH
CHRISTIANE D
CHRISTINE VAINDIRLIS
CLARA PONTY
COPAL
CUCHATA
DAMJAN KRAJACIC
DANIEL CROS
DEBO & FENDIKA
DEL CASTILLO
DR JAYANTHI KUMARESH
EARTHRISE SOUNDSYSTEM
EGYPT NOIR
ELIN FURUBOTN
EMILY SMITH
FANFARE CIOCARLIA VS. BOBAN & MARKO MARKOVIC
FEUFOLLET
FIAF PRESENTS WORLD NOMADS MOROCCO: MUSIC
FOOTSTEPS IN AFRICA
GECKO TURNER
GENTICORUM
GEOFF BERNER
GIANMARIA TESTA
GODS ROBOTS
GUARCO
HUUN HUUR TU
INDIAN OCEAN
IRENE JACOB & FRANCIS JACOB
JANAKA SELEKTA
JANYA
JERRY LEAKE
JOAQUIN DIAZ
JOEL RUBIN
JORGE STRUNZ
JOSEF KOUMBAS
JOYFUL NOISE (I GRADE RECORDS)
JUST A BAND
KAMI THOMPSON
KARTICK & GOTAM
KHALED
KHING ZIN & SHWE SHWE KHAING
KITKA'S CAUCASIAN CONNECTIONS PROJECT PERFORMANCES AND WORKSHOPS
KMANG KMANG
KOTTARASHKY AND THE RAIN DOGS
LA CHERGA
LAC LA BELLE
LAYA PROJECT
LENI STERN
LES TRIABOLIQUES
LISTEN FOR LIFE
LOBI TRAORÉ
LO'JO
LOKESH
MAGNIFICO
MAHALA RAI BANDA
MIDNITE
MOHAMMED ALIDU AND THE BIZUNG FAMILY
MR. SOMETHING SOMETHING
MY NAME IS KHAN
NAWAL
NAZARENES
NO STRANGER HERE (EARTHSYNC)
OCCIDENTAL BROTHERS ON TOUR
OCCIDENTAL GYPSY
OREKA TX
ORQUESTRA CONTEMPORÂNEA DE OLINDA
PABLO SANCHEZ
PEDRO MORAES
RAYA BRASS BAND
SALSA CELTICA
SAMITE
SARA BANLEIGH
SARAH AROESTE
SELAELO SELOTA
SHYE BEN-TZUR
SIA TOLNO
SIBIRI SAMAKE
SISTER FA
SLIDE TO FREEDOM II
SONIA BREX
SOSALA
SWEET ELECTRA
SYSTEMA SOLAR
TAGA SIDIBE
TAJ WEEKES
TARANA
TARUN NAYAR
TE VAKA
TELEPATH
THE MOUNTAIN MUSIC PROJECT
THE NATIVE AMERICA NORTH SHOWCASE
THE SPY FROM CAIRO
TITO GONZALEZ
TOUSSAINT
VARIOUS ARTISTS
VARIOUS ARTISTS
WATCHA CLAN
WHEN HARRY TRIES TO MARRY SOUNDTRACK
WOMEXIMIZER
WOMEXIMIZER
ZDOB SI ZDUB
ZIETI
Chopteeth, Chopteeth Live (Grigri Discs)
Big-Band Blasts from the Funky Past: Chopteeth Unleashes the Live Power of Africa’s Golden Age

Bursting with old-school big band power, Afrobeat crew Chopteeth know how to turn skeptical foot-tappers into shirt-whirling, wolf-whistling believers. The group regularly fills DC’s dance floors with nostalgic African fans and American-born converts to the style exemplified by the now revered Fela Kuti. They’ve supported diverse acts from Aaron Neville to Gov’t Mule, from Konono No. 1 to Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars.

Chopteeth Live (Grigri Discs; February 1st, 2010) captures that full-on energy, with a heavy-hitting horn section, layers of irresistibly catchy interlocking percussion, and carefully crafted takes on African pop classics.

For Chopteeth, even a seeming straightforward live album became a deep exercise in tracing musical lineages. Over many sweaty gigs, the band honed a late Fela piece of fugue-like complexity (“Question Jam Answer”) and spent months calling Nigeria to find an unsung master of African funk. They dug through record store bins, trolled the internet, and mined the vinyl of die-hard African record buffs to find lo-fi and neglected gems.

These gems harken back to the golden age of African pop, the 1970s. In rough-and-ready studios, musicians laid down heady mixes of James Brown-inspired funk, complex chord changes, and local rhythms. They reacted to soul and rumba, to jazz and rock, to harsh political realities and deep roots. Though some musicians of this generation rose to international prominence, many languished, only recently rediscovered by dedicated African music fans, labels, and collectors.

Chopteeth’s discoveries, presented with passion on stage, point to several major figures, forgotten in the recent Fela craze on and off Broadway, who were instrumental in shaping what came to be known as Afrobeat. One striking example, Nigerian jazz player Peter King, had a show so hot back in the day that it rivaled even Fela’s own. Once celebrated, King receded from the international spotlight after his early 70s heyday.

Chopteeth loved King’s tune “Freedom Dance,” a funky vamp on a compelling jazz chord progression that was a blast to play live. When they captured a live version for the album, though, they knew they had to track King down. What began as a simple exercise in copyright clearance became a multi-continent hunt for the forgotten icon.

After a month’s worth of calls to Nigeria, Chopteeth bassist Robert Fox finally connected with King on the phone. “I told him who we were and that we wanted to do a version of his song, and to arrange permission and payment,” Fox recalls. “He was really cool about it. It was an honor for us, to get his blessing, and give him the due he deserves.”

The album gives many other artists their due, from Guinea (“Festival”) to Senegal (“Jiin Ma Jiin Ma”) to Congo (“Gagne Perdu”), showing the musical and geographic sweep that characterizes Chopteeth’s live shows. Their versatility and energy have won them a wildly devoted local fanbase—and garnered them six Wammies (the DC answer to the Grammies®), including Artist of the Year. Their debut studio CD Chopteeth helped build this following, thanks to trans-African originals that eclectically combined the wealth of African pop with upbeat lyrics in multiple languages.

Two years went by, and it was time to capture the band’s live vibe, the heavy-duty intensity of a good old big band, something increasingly rare in this age of mp3s and streaming files. “The truth is people don’t often hear big bands playing dance music live anymore,” muses Fox. “You hear a song like Fela’s ‘J.J.D.’ in person, and it just feels different. It’s a shocking experience for the audience.”

The audience at the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival, for example, barely knew what hit them. The band decided to tackle a little-known Ellington tune, “Didjeridoo,” after they were invited to play at the DC celebration of its iconic native son.

Chopteeth had a unique take on the composition, created after Ellington toured Africa in the 60s as a musical ambassador. They had a feel for the musical roots that inspired the elegant piece. Trombonist Craig Considine whipped out his circular breathing chops to simulate the drone of a didjeridoo, while the group’s baritone sax player Trevor Specht stalked the piece’s elusive final note.

“There’s a low A note that some saxes get and some don’t,” explains Michael Shereikis with a laugh. “If your horn doesn’t go there, you can stuff something in the bell. Mark Gilbert, our tenor sax player, stuffed his big fist into the horn of the baritone sax to get that low note. They practiced in the dressing room and it worked. It made quite the impression on stage.”

And, like all of Chopteeth’s prime live cuts, makes for an equally striking impression on record.

***

“A storming powerhouse of big-band African funk, Chopteeth is smart, tight and relentlessly driving. Their live shows have been known to make even the most motionless of concert-watchers flail their limbs and do something that resembles dancing. Only the most determined stoics will be able to resist the grooves conjured up by Chopteeth.”  —Washington Post

“Afrofunk with lunatic energy”—National Public Radio

“It’s as if Tower of Power resurrected as Afrofunk.” —The Albuquerque Journal

<< release: 02/01/11 >>
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