The Fela Band, DJ Ron Trent Member Picks Recommended Soundboard

When: Sat., April 7, 10 p.m. 2012

At press time I hadn't seen the Chicago run of the Broadway hit Fela! The Musical, which opened March 27 at the Oriental Theatre and closes Sunday. The show about iconic Nigerian bandleader Fela Kuti began with off-Broadway performances in New York in 2008, by which point most of the members of Brooklyn-based Afrobeat band Antibalas had been involved in its years-long development—but only a few of those musicians ended up on the original cast recording. That album, released on Knitting Factory in 2010, is loaded with classic Fela tunes, and though they're trimmed to bite-size lengths—three or four minutes instead of 15 to 20—the performances are spot-on, capturing Fela's collision of hard funk and African highlife. The ten-piece band playing here is nearly identical to the one on the cast recording. Only a couple of its members bear the Antibalas stamp of approval—trumpeter Jordan McLean and percussionist Yoshi Takemasa—but they're all killer musicians, including baritone saxophonist Alex Harding, electric bassist Jeremy Wilms, and guitarist Ricardo Quiñones. According to Fela! musical director and Antibalas trombonist Aaron Johnson—who left Chicago after the first week of the run—tonight's show will be a straight Fela concert. All the songs, including those not in the musical, will be performed in their original arrangements, not the shortened theatrical versions; various singers from the stage production will also join the band onstage. —Peter Margasak DJ Ron Trent spins.

Price: $18, $16 in advance

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