April 16, 2010

V4YS Concert Review - The Souljazz Orchestra & Fanga - Paris, Cabaret Sauvage (15/04/10)

What a week on the afrobeat front in Paris!
After Femi Kuti earlier this week (review and full live video here), I went to see Canadian band The Souljazz Orchestra and French combo Fanga at the Cabaret Sauvage, which is one of my favourite venue in Paris (a cosy antique circus tent inviting to exotic cultural journeys).

Fanga's Martal Reverdy & Korbo
Fanga opened the show with a 1-hour energetic set of "rough" afrobeat.
The band, originating from south of France (Montpellier), is well-known by fans of the french underground afro-scene. They have already been releasing 3 great albums since 2003 but are first and foremost famous for their remarkable live acts. And I guarantee yesterday's gig did not depart from these good principles!
They were 7 members on stage (singer, guitar, bass, baritone sax, percussions, drums, keyboards) and focused on tracks from their latest Lp (Sira Ba), released in November 09.
Fanga's Rajaneesh Dwivedi & Korbo
Their authentic afrobeat sound, spiced up by Korbo's enthusiastic vocal flow and the powerful playing of their baritone sax player, Martal Reverdy, quickly set fire to the audience.
Alternating groovy hypnotic moments with classic explosive afrobeat vocal chorus, Fanga left me with no doubt : they clearly are playing in the big league alongside afro-scene reference bands like Antibalas!
Please check their site for more infos, albums extracts and tour dates.

Souljazz Orchestra's Ray Murray
In an ebullient room came the turn of canadian band The Souljazz Orchestra to spread its afro-funk message.

 We mentionned this brilliant group recently as we reviewed their latest album, Rising Sun.

Souljazz Orchestra's Marielle Rivard, Steve Patterson, Ray Murray & Zakari Frantz
Alternating between funk, afrobeat and spiritual jazz the band has made a name for himself these last few years for the quality and diversity of their productions and their remarkable live performances.

They were 6 on stage (keyboards (Rhodes/Nord), baritone sax, tenor sax, alto sax, chorus singer/percussion, drummer).
Souljazz Orchestra's Pierre Chrétien
One of the originality of the band is their explosive sax trio and the absence of bass and guitar which are somehow replaced by Pierre Chrétien's mesmerizing Nord keyboard's playing.

Yesterday they let aside the spiritual jazz part of their most recent Lp to focus on their dancefloor-oriented afrobeat and funk tracks.

On the afrobeat side they played some of their classic cuts like "Mista President" or "Freedom No Go Die", but also surprised the audience with truly creative covers from Fela's "Rofoforo Fight" and "Odoo".
Souljazz Orchestra's Philippe Lafrenière
On the funk side they made a great tribute to James Brown and also played several tracks that (correct me if I'm wrong guys) were new like the cool "Stand Up And Be Counted", sung by Marielle Rivard.

The musical excellence of each of the band musicians is truly outstanding,  a special note to Philippe Lafrenière drumming performance and funky vocals! Loved it!

After almost 3hours of really high-quality afro grooves, as everyone was preparing to head home and probably dream of a feet-massage, the 2 bands decided to extend the musical feast by starting a refreshing jam session!
Starting with Manu Di Bango's classic "African Battle", the half-an-hour jam went on with Fela's eternal "Water No Get Enemy" and "I.T.T."
Thanks a lot to both bands for this truly special moment!

No need to add that you should check out each of these band next live dates!

Below two quick videos of "Mista President" and jamsession of "Water No Get Enemy" :

P.S. : you can also check our recent afrobeat playlist called "Long Live Afrobeat" highlighting the vitality of this musical scene!

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