The Whole Wide World: Chopteeth's Afro-Funk Big Band
Chopteeth live at Washington D.C.'s Black Cat
Photo by C.L. Kunst
Afro-Funk Big Band (Grigri Discs)
People deal with grief in various ways - some go out and get drunk,while others might take a trip in order to "clear the air" while attempting to deal with the pain. Quite a few might even try therapy, but in the case of Washington, D.C. bassist and labor organizer Robert Fox, making music was the answer he found after losing a close friend in a tragic car accident.
Fox, however, did not start a punk band. Instead, he found inspiration in the Afrobeat sound Fela Kuti made in the '70s - a blend of the era's American funk grooves with African traditional music. This disc is the result, bringing together musicians from places like Nigeria, Romania and the South, arriving at a sound that reflects all these origins.
Photo by Glenda
Take, for instance, "Weigh Your Blessings," a funky tune that talks about the need for world peace but also peace of mind - members of the Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars guest on vocals, giving it a gospel-like feel. The Swahili-language "Upendo" has more of a South African feel thanks to a guitar-and-brass arrangement that immediately gets you on your feet.
"Dog Days," a highly upbeat number that waxes against the loss of the simple things of life we once took for granted: privacy, air quality and job security - things that seem to be slipping through our fingers as days go by. Listening to this record gives us the urge to see this band play live - if they're as good on stage as they sound in the studio, they have a brilliant future.
No tours have been announced yet, but it's only a matter of time until Chopteeth hits the road. - Ernest Barteldes