I’ve been wanting to post this for some time. Classica Orchestra Afrobeat, a group of Italian classical and jazz musicians have come together to reinterpret Fela Kuti, European style. They are accompanied by Seun Kuti and also Fela’s band Africa 70. They’ve recorded an album that is downloadable on Amazon.
You can hear the result on Youtube and Soundcloud.
I’m a complete sucker for combinations of music from different cultures, so of course I’m loving the mix of Afrobeat with Classical European music.
Here is the official website.
Other examples of ethnomusicological mixes can be found in L’Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio, which is a union of musicians from all over the world, that live in Rome’s (Italy) most multiethnic district (called, precisely, Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele). Besides being in fact multiethnical and mixing several different instruments such as the kora with classical violins, as well as mixing rhythms and sounds etc, the group has also reinterpreted the Mozart opera The Magic Flute (my favorite opera ever, but probably also because it’s an atypical one). I’ve seen them play it in concert about 2 years ago, but unfortunately, as far as I know, they are still to record the album version of it.
Look how awesome this is (from about 0:40):
The project has now branched out and a similar one is being organized in Lisbon, Portugal. It is focused on Portuguese-speaking countries and is called Orquestra Todos. It is coordinated by the same man being the project in Rome, Mario Tronco.
And then of course, there’s even more. There are two great CDs of Mozart’s music being mixed with arabic music. They are called Mozart in Egypt (1997) and Mozart in Egypt 2 (2005):
There’s the Afroarab of French/Algerian rapers 113 who got together with Magic System, and made a mix African rhythms with arab chanting and rap:
And then there’s Natacha Atlas, who I’ve been in love with since the soundtrack (get it here) of (a really great) film, Intervention Divine (French-Palestinian collaboration, director is Elia Suleiman). Natacha Atlas made arabic versions of a couple of classical French songs and, although many of my friends puked at first listen, I’ve adored them for more than 10 years now (which is to say I won’t be surprised nor hurt if you hate it too):
Last time I saw her she was touring with a electro/dub group, Transglobal Underground (but I wasn’t very impressed, to be honest :/).
Why have I never talked about Seun Kuti? Wow.
He’s the son of Fela Kuti and he’s continuing the Afrobeat tradition of his father. He’s got two CDs up his sleeve and the second, from last year, was produced by Brian Eno. And third, his lyrics are very political and he’s one of the voices of the Occupy Nigeria movement right now. Read more here: “Now, people are awake”. Oh, and fourth, he’s really hot. lol
Get the last album - “From Africa with Fury: Rise” (2011), here.
One of my favourite Seun Kuti songs, from the first album, Many Things. Actually, I might just prefer the first album a little bit better. It’s less produced, more raw. It was released on Tôt ou Tard, a French record label that also included Lhasa (and Têtes Raides, Mathieu Boogaerts, Yael Naim, etc etc)