Seventeen years after his passing, Fela Kuti’s impact is as vital as ever on the world’s music scene. Just last week the Finding Fela doc premiered at Sundance and, for those who are compelled by Fela’s colorful story, defiant political message, and funkily complex (or is that complexly funky) music, now could be the time for you to start learning how to play it as well. Tomorrow, the first ensemble rehearsal for “Fela + Beyond: Afrobeat Big Band” begins at the Abrons Arts Center in Manhattan. The ensemble will be run by Seth Paris, leader of the No Small Money Brass Band that we featured in our Africa in America 2013 program.
Students at the 15-week program will learn to play Fela’s Afrobeat style, along with calypso, reggae, and highlife, among other genres. Some of the top Afrobeat musicians in New York, from Antibalas, Akoya Afrobeat Ensemble and the Fela! musical will also be joining the ensemble. The class costs less than $10 per session and the ensemble will be performing around New York. For those interested, you can contact Vincent Iannelli, Engagement Manager for Music at the Abrons Art Center at email@example.com or check out the program’s Facebook page. Sounds like a pretty cool opportunity for all you future Afrobeat virtuosos out there!
Check out No Small Money Brass Band playing some live highlife below: