Occidental Brothers Dance Band International - Odo Sanbra
"Sikyi" (pronounced "See-chee") is a jittery, bouncing form of Ghanaian Highlife music. That and the old reliable high hat are paid homage on "Odo Sanbra," the latest from Occidental Brothers Dance Band International, a bi-racial band featuring a few Michigan guys and some ex-pats from Ghana. The result is an authentic but reverent tribute to both the hard funk and local percussion of highlife as well as its stylistic precursor, palmwine.
Founder/guitarist Nathaniel Braddock traveled to Ghana a few years ago and found his calling in a couple vinyl record stores. He had found the sound. When he returned, he rounded up some band mates, including native Ghanians Daniel "Rambo" Asamoah on percussion and, most importantly, singer Kofi Cromwell. Cromwell's slightly warped but always passionate delivery, backed by excellent horn work and that percussion, gives the music its authenticity.
That ring of truth is most evident on "Mafiwo," "Ne Do-Yefe," and the jagged "Yaa Amponsah." Cromwell sings in a couple of his native dialects as well as in English. Braddock's guitar drives tunes like "Akwaaba" and "Yaa Amponsah," the latter an old highlife favorite. The band throughout is tight, and all tracks have just enough heat to satisfy any dancefloor maven. Sitting back with a beer and just listening is ok too.
"Odo Sanbra" pours new wine into old skins and comes up with a winner that is both new and built on the past. Highlife-and quiet a few other West African sounds-have been getting a lot of notice in recent years. Occidental Brothers Dance Band International will help keep that project going.
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