This article originally appeared in the “Riverfront Times.”
The musical legacy left by Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti after his 1997 death is so dense and fruitful that his style continues to germinate around the world. The mere existence of the Chicago Afrobeat Project is proof of this. The group came together in 2002, and since then has embraced a two-fold aim: to make people dance (which isn’t hard, given infectious polyrhythms and blistering horn interplay) and to spread the word about Fela and the music he created. But while the CAbP certainly pays tribute to Afrobeat’s founding father, it isn’t a tribute act: The band writes its own songs based around funky keyboards, charging horn lines and talking drums, thus keeping the music vibrant and vital.