Monday, January 21, 2013

Review: The Budos Band and Jungle Fire at the Echoplex

The Budos Band played the Echoplex on Sunday night. The New York Afro-Soul luminaries (who have put out three self-titled albums, The Budos Band I, II, and III) were powerful headliners, enlivened the full house of diverse and eager fans to dance (which movement was partly provoked by the band's aggressive Brooklyn-accented exhortations to the audience). The sound was thunderous, the sound was 70s cop movies, it was early soul, it was classic psychedelica, it was funky disco with conga. Most importantly, it was delivered with gritty New York determination; aggressive, with soulful edges.

As unprepared as I was for the excellence of the performance of The Budos Band, the real surprise of the evening was Jungle Fire. An even greater (and more delightful) shock came when they said they are from Los Angeles. Featuring between nine and twelve members, the Latin/Afro/Funk/Soul group started strong with a disco-esque latin number and continued powerfully throughout their set. The percussion section, featuring three musicians who interchanged instruments with expertise, was unspeakably tight. Not to be overshadowed, the impressive drummer anchored the entire group as they traversed complicated rhythms with not only ease, but evident joy. Funky bass lines and guitar riffs together with expert sax, trumpet, trombone and the occasional flute gave the collective a seamless, conquering power.

It is Booker T meets Northern Soul (think David Coleman - "Drown My Heart") meets the JBs meets Phirpo y sus Caribes. It is the most danceable, most shockingly irresistible and most real music I have heard in a long time. They have a vinyl 45 out, with new recordings (hopefully) on the way, but his band is just beginning. Watch for them. And in the meantime go see them live if you can.

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