Femi Kuti & the Positive Force, King Sunny Ade & His African Beats | Ravinia Festival | International | Chicago Reader

Femi Kuti & the Positive Force, King Sunny Ade & His African Beats Recommended Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Wed., July 1, 7:30 p.m. 2009

Femi Kuti’s father, Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, has only grown more influential in the 12 years since he died. Fela’s voluminous catalog remains widely available, many new Afrobeat bands have formed and flourished, and Femi’s half brother Seun has emerged as a serious contender for dad’s throne, fronting the remnants of Fela’s band Egypt 80 and cleaving tightly to Fela’s sound and politics. In the past it’s been easy for me to dismiss Femi as a candy-coated version of his father: since launching his solo career in the early 90s he’s proffered a friendlier take on Afrobeat, playing shorter songs with less stridently political lyrics and softening the genre’s merciless grooves with bits of soul, pop, and rock. But on his latest album, Day by Day (Mercer Street), he sounds so confident and comfortable in his own version of Afrobeat that it’s hard to complain, even though some of the tracks float off on a gauzy cloud of smooth-jazz fluff. (He’s returned to the trumpet and now plays both it and the saxophone.) Femi may not be as forceful or charismatic as his father—or as Seun, for that matter—but he’s no sellout. King Sunny Adé & His African Beats open. —Peter Margasak

Price: $16-$40

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