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For Your Consideration: Zongo Junction's 'Thieves!'

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief / @i_ADH

Good friend of Nextbop, Adam Schatz (founder of Search and Restore which is a cool jazz website you really should check out if you don't regularly do so already), is part of a cool Brooklyn afrobeat band called Zongo Junction. The eleven-piece band which has curiously fewer people of color than you would expect for an afrobeat band is quite funky to the point that it has little bearing on the music (besides, it's not like the mix-matched race tropes aren't something we haven't seen in the subgenre through the likes of Ubiquity recording artists Ikebe Shakedown or soul collectives like the Menahan Street Band and Antibalas). This New York collective honors and respects afrobeat, certainly to the point of getting your feet moving.

Zongo Junction's debut album, Thieves! (released in 2010), has the perfect combination of afrobeat structure, restrained improvisation, and wry lyricism from Leon Kaleta Ligan-Majek of Fela Kuti (I never thought I would effectively hear malaria and dengue fever referenced in a song, let alone it being pulled off well in the album's opening track, "Elephant & Mosquito"). However, very much in the spirit of jazz, the group adapts the genre to its New York origins (For example, the track "Madoff Made Off" which laments the crimes of the ponzi scammer). We ultimately see a group of guys in Brooklyn who happen to like this kind of music and pay homage appropriately and play it distinctly. At the very least, it's something new to rattle around in your ears until they head back to the studio later next month to record their next release.

In the meantime, give Thieves! a listen, or see them live if you happen to be in New York or Ontario during their mini-tour in early August.

Thursday, August 2nd - Brooklyn, NY - Littlefield
Friday, August 3rd - Ithaca, NY - The Haunt
Saturday, August 4th - Rochester, NY - Dubland Underground
Sunday, August 5th - Buffalo, NY - Nietzsche's (Part of the Buffalo Infringement Festival)
Monday, August 6th - Hamilton, ON - This Ain't Hollywood
Tuesday, August 7th - Toronto, ON - The Rex

Zongo Junction is...
Charlie Ferguson - Drums
Morgan Greenstreet - Percussion
Jordan Hyde - Guitar
Pavel Kogan-Liakhov - Guitar
Noah Garabedian - Bass
Ross Edwards - Keys
Adam Schatz - Tenor Sax
Jonah Parzen-Johnson - Baritone Sax
Joe Hartnett - Alto Sax
Kevin Moehringer - Trombone
Aaron Rockers - Trumpet