Reviews, profiles and news about music in Chicago

Offbeat: Zap Mama Teams with Antibalas, Gunther Schuller Twines Jazz and Classical

Afrobeat, Big Band, Chamber Music, Chicago Artists, Classical, Experimental, Interviews, Jazz, New Music, News and Dish, Orchestral, Vocal Music, World Music No Comments »
Marie Daulne of Zap Mama

Marie Daulne of Zap Mama

By Dennis Polkow

Marie Daulne, founder and lead singer of the Afropop female group Zap Mama, has always straddled two continents. She never knew her European father; he was killed at the hands of Simba rebels in the Congo, where Daulne was born and from where she, her mother and sisters escaped to live in her father’s native Belgium.

One of Daulne’s primary influences growing up was Afrobeat and Fela Kuti. “All Africans living in Europe listened to him,” she says. She even saw Kuti perform as a teenager and was delighted years later when she was living in New York and “Fela!” opened on Broadway. “Prior to that, the most African thing on Broadway was ‘The Lion King’! I returned to the show several times to see Antibalas perform.” Antibalas is the Brooklyn-based Afrobeat ensemble that arranged and performed all of the music for “Fela!,” modeled on Kuti’s own Africa 70 band. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Vieux Farka Toure/Chicago World Music Festival

Afrobeat, Blues, Festivals, Genre, World Music No Comments »



This Malian guitarist, singer and songwriter has long crept out of the shadow of his father, the late, great Ali Farka Toure, kicking off his international career shortly before his father’s passing with the release of his self-titled album (World Village) in 2007. The album was recorded with his father’s participation and blessings, even though at first he wasn’t too happy about his son embarking onto the uncertainties of a musical career.

From there, the recognition was almost immediate—that same year, he appeared in key stages in North America that gave him wide exposure, and that culminated in his participation in the opening of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in Johannesburg alongside the likes of Shakira and Alicia Keys. He has since released two solo records. 2008’s excellent “The Secret” featured contributions from Derek Trucks and Dave Matthews. He is currently working on his side project Toure-Reichel Collective, a collaboration with Israeli musician Idan Reichel while also working on his own solo material. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: The Chicago Afrobeat Project/Abbey Pub

Afrobeat, Chicago Artists, Funk, World Music No Comments »


The hallmark of a good band is its ability to perform in any setting at any time. Gigging at a local Occupy, the Chicago Afrobeat Project played to a sympathetic crowd, one almost expected to take in the confluence of funk, jazz and afro-stylings as the norm. If no one said anything about a post-racial America, they were thinking about it. Several months earlier, though, CAbP did a spot at the Beachland Park, a private beach club in Cleveland. Private might be too strong a word. There’s no gate, but there are fees for residents who use the park on a regular basis. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Osunlade/Sonotheque

Afrobeat, Electronic/Dance, House No Comments »


Osunlade, Yoruba priest and label owner, acclaimed producer and inspiring DJ—I suppose leading with that list begs the question: “What about him?” Inquire no more, for the man himself will be working the decks this weekend at Chicago’s hipster paradise, Sonotheque. Many house artists have listed their efforts as “Afro-beat,” but what comes out of the speakers are a few easily found presets from your favorite software package. Tribal percussion and soulful chanting are indeed the weapons Osunlade employs to convey the African sound through house music, but his style exudes authenticity, and with sweat-inducing gusto to boot. Chi-town’s getting cold again, but the jazzy breakbeats and horn-fueled melodies of Osunlade’s deep, dancefloor-aimed sound will get your blood flowing. Read the rest of this entry »