The revival of Afro-Beat—the sensuous, pulsating mix of African highlife, jazz, funk, and salsa—is one of the most welcome and unexpected recent developments in the world-music/world-fus

The revival of Afro-Beat—the sensuous, pulsating mix of African highlife, jazz, funk, and salsa—is one of the most welcome and unexpected recent developments in the world-music/world-fusion communities. It began last year with the release of Femi Kuti's Shoki Shoki and continued throughout the year as MCA embarked on an ambitious reissue program of recordings by Femi's father and Afro-beat's legendary founder, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Now, with the release of Liberation Afro-Beat Vol. 1, the sound is both revived and updated by Antibalas, a 14-piece Brooklyn band. Antibalas—Spanish for "bulletproof"—has been steadily amassing a following in the New York area since 1998. The polish that comes from their steady gigging is a highlight of the recording. The horn ostinatos are razor sharp, the harmonies open, and steam rises from the interlocking grooves created by the bass, drums, and many African percussion instruments. True to the music's origins, the group maintains a solidly leftist political agenda, but it doesn't clang listeners over the head with it. Instead, tracks like "Dirt and Blood" and "World War IV" seek to free your booty; the rest is sure to follow.—MJ

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