This week writers came back from the holiday break ready to play. From David Denby unloading in the New Yorker, to John Jeremiah Sullivan working a mention of the Fruit Jar Guzzlers into a Paris Review piece, Robert Christgau beating his breast over Das Racist's breakup and an examination of the visuals of extreme music, there wasn't a lot of taking it easy. Lucky you.
Antibalas was founded in 1998 by baritone sax player Martin Perna (far right, in hat) and is fronted by singer-percussionist Amayo (center, in head wrap). The group has seen many lineup changes in its decade and a half together.
Years ago, without setting out to do so, the Afrobeat ensemble Antibalas jumped out ahead of the pop-culture curve in two ways. First, geography: The band was formed in Brooklyn in the 1990s, before the New York borough became the mecca of independent music that it is today. Second, the music itself: Afrobeat makes its way into lots of popular music today, but Antibalas was doing it before it had a mainstream foothold.
On the tough side of Terpsichore Street in New Orleans stands a duplex — a two-story, wood-framed building with wood floors, high ceilings and a nice fireplace. But this old house is empty: no furniture, no walls, no electricity, no toilet. Iron bars hide the windows; there's a lockbox on the door. The facade is three different shades of blecch, blurgh and blah.
Cody ChesnuTT's debut album, 2002's The Headphone Masterpiece, was the result of two years spent recording alone in his bedroom. The double-length record is at once both sprawling and intimate; it encompasses a wide array of genres, but ChesnuTT sings and plays nearly every part.
Our partners at Jazz24 — that's the Internet jazz radio service from Seattle-Tacoma's KPLU — are making a list of the 50 Quintessential Jazz Vocals of All Time. They'll create an online stream from the results, and they're looking for your help. Vote for up to three of your top picks via a simple online survey.