JUNE 19, 2012
Orchestre Poly-Rythmo Tours North America
Benin Ensemble To Perform 12 Dates In July
Orchestre Poly-Rythmo are national institutions in Benin, West Africa, though the band's reputation has spread internationally following breath-taking compilations of their vintage material on Soundway and Analog Africa and a new studio album on Strut. The band has toured the globe over the last several years, but until recently, US dates have been limited. With a full run of dates in July, North America will finally have an opportunity to see one of the world's great live ensembles in action.
Formed during the late '60s, Orchestre Poly-Rythmo whip up a groundbreaking fusion of traditional highlife, Afrobeat, soul, funk and the indigenous styles and voodoo-led traditions of their homeland. Their songs touched on all of their national languages - the mina French dialect, Fon and Yoruba - and confidently referenced a broad range of international music from James Brown to Johnny Halliday. As well as forging their own success, they were the first port of call to back many of West Africa's greatest artists, from Gnonnas Pedro to Manu Dibango and Bembeya Jazz.
The band's current incarnation solidified after French radio producer Elodie Maillot (Radio France, Vibrations, Mondomix) began seeking out the original band members in Benin. After a memorable radio interview, the musicians asked her to help them achieve their dream - to play once in a lifetime outside of Africa.
Since then, the band has reformed, now a 10-piece featuring five original members from the very first '60s incarnation, two from the mid-'70s line-up and three new members. They have played many high profile concerts, bringing the infectious Poly-Rythmo sonic melting pot to a whole new generation of fans from the African Soul Rebels tour of major UK arts centres and the WOMAD festival to Lincoln Center in New York.
Their latest studio album, Cotonou Club, is the band's first new album in over 20 years, a celebration of the Poly-Rythmo sound with new versions of the band's classics, including massive West African hit 'Gbeti Madjro', and a host of new compositions. Guest appearances include African superstar Angelique Kidjo, who began her career in Poly-Rythmo's backyard, new World Circuit signing Fatoumata Diawara and Paul Thomson and Nick McCarthy from indie favorites Franz Ferdinand.
Orchestre Poly-Rythmo U.S. Tour Dates:
July 4th - Montreal, QC: Montreal Jazz Festival
July 6th - Quebec City, QC: City Festival
July 7th - Winnipeg, MB: Winnipeg Folk Festival
July 8th - Winnipeg, MB: Winnipeg Folk Festival
July 10th - Minneapolis, MN: The Cedar
July 11th - Chicago, IL: Mayne Stage
July 13th - Toronto, ON: Harbourfront Centre
July 15th - Louisville, KY: Forecastle Festival
July 17th - Washington, DC: The Hamilton (2 sets)
July 19th - Brooklyn, NY: Brooklyn Academy of Music
July 20th - Boston, MA: Brighton Music Hall
July 22nd - New York, NY - Central Park Summerstage