Listen to origins of Afrobeat from Pax Nicholas’ 1973 recording
Welcome to our music picks, where once a week we talk to an Austin musician and find out what’s been burning up their CD player, turntable or iPod lately. Looking for a good musical recommendation? Take some advice from someone in the local music trenches who knows their stuff. Recommendations can be local, national or international, new or old.
They need to fit only two criteria: 1) the musician in question needs to have just discovered them, and 2) it has to be fantastic.
This week: We talk with Jason Frey, tenor saxophone jockey for Hard Proof Afrobeat, the supremely funky nine-piece that keeps Austin bumping with its cocktail of retro-soul style and Femi and Fela Kuti-derived African grooves. You might recognize Frey and the rest of the Hard Proof Afrobeat horn section from their work with local soul man Black Joe Lewis — they took over as the official horns of the Honeybears last year. Hard Proof Afrobeat headlines at the midnight tonight at the Ghost Room, 304 W. Fourth St. Focus Group and DJ Businessmen open.
Jason Frey recommends: “Na Teef Know De Road of Teef,” a 1973 album from Ghana musician Pax Nicholas, who played conga drums and sang background vocals in Fela Kuti’s renowned Africa 70 band. The album was re-released in September 2009 by Daptone Records.
Jason Frey says: “Pax Nicholas played in Fela Kuti’s Africa 70 band for seven or eight years, and when he recorded this album with a bunch of the other guys from the band they kept it secret from Fela because they knew he wouldn’t like that the guys in his band were doing another project. So after he heard the record he got it shelved and it wasn’t really properly released or anything. Eventually this collector got a hold of a copy and brought it to the attention of Daptone. It’s just a gold-mine of a record. It’s really heavy Afrobeat from the early stages of its development. It’s only 30 minutes or so, but it’s just fantastic. Kind of a rare little gem that I stumbled into. I searched the expression to find out what the title means, and it basically means ‘A thief knows a thief when he sees one.’ It’s kind of funny being that they were all sneaky about getting away from Fela. Pax has been up in Germany doing his thing for the last 30 years in relative obscurity, but the Daptones thing has gotten his music out to a much wider audience.”
Listen to Pax Nicholas’ “Atta Onukpa” in our blog @ austin360.com/musicsource.