Balafon hip-hop jazz jams from…Nantes?

November 19, 2010

Wow, it has been far too long since my previous post. This current one owes its presence on the interweb to the old, debilitated lady below me who blasts her radio at 3 am many a restless night. Tonight Pink Floyd’s “Money” aroused me from my slumber…come on, does she really like the Floyd?

It probably helped that when my wife’s cousin pointed me in this group’s direction, I, ever the skeptic, incredulously tapped their name into Spotify and thought to myself, “I’m never going to like this nyc hip-hoppy monikered, French wannabe shit.” A gloomy attitude that, while stemming from experience with too much modern noise that masquerades as good music, occasionally gets me into trouble. Such is the case with Tribeqa..
It took only the first listen for me to be filled with that “this kicks ass” feeling that happens less and less to me in this jaded era of casual 10-second mp3 browse-listening. Multiple follow-up listens confirmed that this isn’t all just ephemeral pomp.
Here we have a vibraphonist who plays a chromatic balafon (a rarer version of the west African tetratronic/heptatronic/pentatonic variety, innovated by the likes of my friend Balla Kouyaté) brought back from a trip to the Ivory Coast, hip-hop drumming, upright bass, nylon string guitar, some singing, flute, and more all concocted in of all places Nantes.
This is straight up old school hip-hop jazz seasoned with African (and your occasional Brazilian) grooves for that added musicality necessary to get one up and dancing mid-listen.
I opted for tracks off their self-titled debut, as their second album, “Qolors”, is a little too pop-oriented for my tastes, with all sorts of guest artists and a kind of Ozomatli/Jurassic 5 kind of sound.

Regardless, well done, my Nantais brethren!

A fantastic 7/8-5/8 pattern gives way to sweeping balafon lines, flute riffing, a drum solo, and like 5 different improvisational themes in this number…

Tribeqhouse – Tribeqa

Love the counterpoint grooves that fall into an old school hip-hop instrumental…

Tchefari – Tribeqa


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