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Euforquestra: Explorations in Afrobeat

Explorations in Afrobeat, the second album from Iowa's Euforquestra, is a synthesis of West African and Cuban music rooted in the Yoruba tradition (The Yoruba are the largest single ethno-linguistic group in Nigeria and the second largest in Africa). Two of the band members have studied traditional Cuban music, which helps give the music of Euforquestra their varied sound, combining Afro-Cuban elements with Samba, Soca, Funk, Jazz, Reggae, and of course rock. Think Santana meets Osibisa meets Bob Marley and you have some idea of the musical concoction here. The band gets a rich sound by using tenor and alto sax, guitar, keyboards, bass, vibes, drums, percussion, and vocals. Much of the lyrical content is based on the Lucumi religion and its spiritual beings called the Orisha, which represents different elements of nature and the human condition such as fire, water, mental disease, motherhood, wisdom, lightning, etc. Quite a bit of information on this culture is given in the CD booklet, and it's an interesting read for those who are new to the subject. All seven members of the band have a love for Afro-Cuban music and culture, and it really shows through the music.

Half the songs here are of epic length and surpass the nine-minute mark, which allows for plenty of fiery and groove laden jams featuring soaring sax, gritty guitar, tight percussion, and lofty keyboard sounds. Eric Quiner lays down some fat electric piano tones on the scorching "Obatala", a rumbling jazz-funk-rocker with kick ass rhythms and plenty of hot sax and guitar interplay. Again, think Osibisa meets Santana with a healthy dose of jazz and reggae thrown in for good measure. Other hot tracks include the driving funk beats of "Ogun", the sophisticated grooves of "Elegua", and the heavily jazzed-up "Chango", which features some wonderful sax work from Ryan Jeter and Austin Zaletel. I dare anyone to not get up on their feet and start dancing to the upbeat sounds of "Ochun", a song with a strong Latin feel thanks to the vibes, percussion, and sax work.

This CD was a complete surprise, and will easily appeal to those who have an interest in African or Cuban music, jazz, World, prog rock, or any of the bands mentioned above.

Track Listing
1) Elegua (10:53)
2) Ogun (11:59)
3) Obatala (9:08)
4) Intro to Chango (3:18)
5) Chango (10:37)
6) Into to Ochun (3:08)
7) Ochun (6:29)
8) Elegua Outro (3:56)

Added: June 13th 2006
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Euforquestra's Web Site
Hits: 2143
Language: english

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