(Ninja Tune, 2002)
Antibalas (or "bullet-proof" in Spanish) released its second CD, Talkatif in March, 2002. This New York City-based band plays Afrobeat, which can best be described as mostly funk, a dash of reggae, with a huge slice of progressive jazz thrown in to the mix, all served over a heavy African rhythm base.
Seven selections provide just over 40 minutes of entertainment, letting all listeners know that Antibalas is THE party band of NYC. Most of the pieces are fortunately instrumental in nature; personally, I find the vocals a little distracting from otherwise engaging tunes.
Regardless, it certainly sounds as if this group of musicians had quite a bit of fun making this CD. According to the promotional materials, the band's motto basically states that "Afrobeat is best made when the musicians are not trying to see who has the biggest dick." Uh ... OK. I'm not sure how to respond to that, but I hope it gets their point across.
Perhaps Martin Antibalas, founder and baritone sax player of the band, can help one understand, noting that "the music definitely unlashes the inner freak." Considering that, during light times, the band performs at least once per week, the musicians must display their inner freaks a lot!
Besides Antibalas, the size of Antibalas can range anywhere from 11 to 18 individuals. On Talkatif, he was joined by Jordan McLean, Anda Szilagyi and Todd Simon (trumpets), Michael Herbst (tenor sax), Martin Perna (baritone sax), Stuart Bogie (alto sax), Aaron Johnson and Mike Wagner (trombones), Ernesto Abreau (conguero), Fernando Velez (percussion), Duke Amayo (vocals and percussion), Phil Ballman and Dylan Fusillo (drums), Giancarlo Luiggi (shekere), Del Sribling (bass), Gabriel Roth and Luke O'Malley (guitar) and Victor Axelrod (keyboards).
Talkatif is a decent CD and might be worth checking out if you are just itching to try something different. If you find the vocals distracting like I do, just press the forward button on those two songs and listen to the five instrumental pieces.
[ by Wil Owen ]