“Afrobeat Blends Rhythms of Chicago and Africa” from “Northern Express”

July 5, 2013

This article originally appeared in Northern Express from Michigan.

Guitarist David Glines has been with the Chicago Afrobeat Project “since the early days,” as he puts it. So he remembers well the formation of the band over 10 years ago, at a Lake Street Loft in downtown Chicago.

Today, CAbP, as they’re officially abbreviated, are critically acclaimed, incredibly busy (They play over 100 live shows a year), and ready to bring their Afrobeat sound to Northern Michigan.

Afrobeat, an energetic combination of traditional Yoruba music (a folk music from Nigeria and Benin, heavily focused on complex drumbeats), funk, jazz, and chanted vocals, was initially created and made popular by Nigerian musician Fela Kuti.

CAbP takes the foundation of Afrobeat and twists it around, infusing it with Windy City style and modern production.

“Our approach to the genre from the very first note was respectful irreverence,” Glines says. “I’m sure an ethnomusicologist could critique us for intentionally misappropriating the genre, but the musical lines for me are not so thick. Artists like us have no problem pulling a Brazilian percussion rhythm (out) and having a horn play the pattern, or taking a digital “glitch and bleep” effect and applying it to one of our recordings.”

BY THE NUMBERS

It’s a big group. “Of the original members, Kevin Ford remains on keyboards, I play guitar, and we have three horn players who I basically consider original members of the band at this point – Garrick Smith plays baritone saxophone, Angelo Garcia plays tenor saxophone, and although he lives in Sweden and doesn’t tour regularly with us, Mark Thomson plays trombone,” Glines explains.

Another 5-10 musicians rotate in and out of the group depending on the location of the performance or recording session, but as Glines continues, the CAbP “family” extends even beyond these people, as many musicians have been in the group over the years.

“The reality is that the strongest members remain at the core and continue the original vision of the group – to inject Chicago into Afrobeat, and create our own style,” Glines says.

ENERGY AND EMEFE

CAbP allows each member of the group their ‘moment’ on the bandstand.

“There are some songs that, while we love to play them, are more appropriate for a recording than a live show. And while we are certainly a sum of many parts, each of those parts gets a major standout in the live show.”

The band also likes the challenge of a collaboration, one of which will be happening right in front of the audience’s eyes (and ears) at their upcoming Traverse City Show.

“We’re really excited about our show in Michigan, because our good friends EMEFE from Brooklyn are on the bill as well,” Glines says. “The show will actually be a CHI vs. NYC (Chicago Afrobeat Project vs. EMEFE) Afrobeat battle, where we will both play independent sets and then team up at the end of the night. We only do this a few times a year, and we’re excited to bring the battle to Michigan.”

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