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Sample Track 1:
"Emi Won Ni Leyi O" from Baba Mo Tunde
Sample Track 2:
"Baba Loun Sohun Gbogbo" from Baba Mo Tunde
Layer 2
King Sunny Ade, Baba Mo Tunde (IndigeDisc) The Return of the King:
The Traffic-Stopping, Hip-Shaking Wisdom of King Sunny Ade is Back on Baba Mo Tunde, His First Studio Album in a Decade

King Sunny Ade is global groove royalty whose six-hour sets and butt-shaking beats are notorious from his native Nigeria to Nashville and Nagasaki. And now the master is back with Baba Mo Tunde (IndigeDisc; September 28, 2010), his first studio album in ten years, a pristine recording and double CD set that captures a vital musician in his prime with profound respect for the art of the juju jam.

Most North American fans know only the shorter, radio-friendly recordings from King Sunny Ade’s earlier life on a major label, songs whittled down to mere shadows of their exuberant half-hour-long selves. Good stuff—it made die-hard fans of Stevie Wonder, Henry Rollins, and Phish’s Trey Anastasio, to name a few—but nothing compared to what King Sunny Ade and his band regularly do in Lagos, and what they knew listeners elsewhere were ready for.

This time, King Sunny Ade and his youthful, high-energy band, fresh from a reinvigorating and successful tour, decided to go for broke. They busted out the twining liquid rhythms, upbeat choruses, and stunning percussion that made juju the music of a generation of Nigerians and African music lovers. This time, the group made room to stretch, improvise, and take full advantage of an excellent studio and an upbeat vibe.

Yet these aren’t noodling free-for-alls: This is the first time King Sunny Ade and his band have written new material in a U.S. studio, songs like the album’s spiritual and rousing kick off, “Baba Feran Mi.” These songs, more than simply rearrangements, are carefully crafted by an artist at his vocal and lyrical best. With multiple, flexible parts, they are meant to keep the dance floor hopping, while also imparting hard-earned wisdom derived from King Sunny Ade’s deep understanding of Yoruba literature and culture. It’s as if James Brown were also poet laureate.

King Sunny Ade can take a cue from the slew of Yoruba proverbs and transform them into lyrics that amuse and critique, praise and inspire. Back home, he has mastered the art of perfectly pitching his words to suit his often powerful patrons—right down to using the traditions and cadences of their home region or village. “Baba Mo Tunde” reflects this talent, interweaving proverbs with King Sunny Ade’s deeply felt faith, in a move typical of the master of Yoruba poetry.

Even beyond the words, King Sunny Ade is a master at grabbing the essence of Yoruba and Afropop moments, and making them great to dance to. “Emi Won N’lle ya O,” a classic of the old-school juju KSA has kept alive and kicking, captures the clack and sigh of women’s beads, traditionally worn below elegant layers of clothing, in a galloping groove as fun as it is seductive.

“Eyi Ma Dun To” weaves two songs together, a folksy, happy-go-lucky anthem to the goodness of life that soon morphs into the pulse of Eyo, the centuries-old masked carnivals that once turned the streets of Lagos into spontaneous parties on a regular basis. A staple of King Sunny Ade’s live shows, this traditional Eyo song, rich with the spirit of these celebrations notorious for stopping traffic for hours, has finally made it onto an album, in all its funky, festive glory.

Adding additional heft to this unique recording, several American musicians contributed to the album. The gospel hints of Joe Doria’s nimble Hammond B-3, or the notes from the jazz underground brought by keyboardist Wayne Horvitz, unfolded some of King Sunny Ade’s jazz and funk sides, with just the right touch. And as a first, famed Philly house and hip hop DJ King Britt opened up his fellow monarch’s grooves on his deep dub remix of “Baba Mo Tunde.”

“Nigerian music is the wellspring,” King Sunny Ade explains with a smile, thinking about his long career and recent work, “but my music brings people together, no matter where they are from. Everybody can give thanks and dance. That’s what my music is all about, peace and enjoyment.”

<< release: 09/28/10 >>