This article originally appeared in The Riverfront Times.
Studious, meticulous, reconstructive genre projects aren’t normally well-springs of funk, but most projects don’t have unkillable juju driving them forward. With horns, guitars, keys and a convoy of percussion, the Chicago Afrobeat Project draws together as many as eleven young jazz cats (not counting the dancers) to cut loose the polyrhythmic improvisations pioneered by Fela Ransome Kuti and King Sunny Ade. But as certifiable “heads,” they also lean towards the genius skronk of the Art Ensemble of Chicago and electric Miles Davis. And as urban stylists they can follow an MCs flow as well as a mathematical guitar solo into the deepest, most danceable jungles — and emerge with their politics and hipster cool intact.