07 November 2005

Monday's mp3: Gangbe's AFRO-Latin Brass

The Gangbe Brass Band has been on my radar since I heard their 2001 CD Togbe. Hailing from Benin in West Africa, the 10-piece band mixes up a wild stew of African rhythms and blistering brass.

I caught their live show at the Triple Door in Seattle on Saturday, which added a lot to my understanding of the band and the music. A triangulation of three percussionists anchored the stage, while the seven horn players between played and danced, often spinning slow, syncopated circles around a soloist or vocalist. Trombonist Martial Ahouandjinou deserves special praise for his radiant presence on stage.

Their music sounds like nobody else. My companion for the evening, herself an accomplished musician, had a look of awed puzzlement on her face throughout much of the evening. Along with the polyrhythms, Gangbe was throwing out chords and chord combinations that made her musical mind stretch in new directions. Their style is Afro-Cuban, sure, but way more on the Afro side of the continuum. The players have serious chops and a seamless flow, and the horns' dynamic ranges from soft and smooth to sharp-edged blasts. I'd love to see the reaction these guys would get in Havana!

By the end of their set, the band had the often-stiff Triple Door crowd on their feet, dancing. More than a few patrons made the trek onto the stage to dance or spray the artists with greenbacks.

In appreciation of a wonderous night, I offer a track is from Gangbe's 2001 CD Togbe, which means "the child follows in the steps of his father."

Monday's mp3: Gangbe Brass Band: "Ajaka"

Gangbe website | Buy the CD Togbe | Also check out Gangbe's 2004 CD, Whendo (Roots)
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