03 Paris 11 September, 2011

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A journey through African funk: past, present & future. During Jazz à la Villette festival, Red Bull Music Academy and Questlove of The Roots co-curate a special night dedicated to the immense impact of African funk and soul on modern music.

Questlove’s Afro-Picks is the world premiere of a unique show created by musical visionary Questlove, The Roots’ drummer and hip hop producer. A long time partner of the Red Bull Music Academy, this outspoken taste-maker offers a contemporary tribute to African musical history through a selection of tracks played by the Afro-Picks Big Band, featuring Tony Allen himself on drums, Macy Gray, Black Thought, Mamani Keita, and Amp Fiddler, as well as members of Antibalas, of the David Murray Big Band, of The Roots, of the Tony Allen Band, and Fela!, the Broadway musical. Questlove’s Afro-Picks is a unique show straddling tradition and modernity, struggle and liberation, music and politics.

  • Cabaret Sauvage – la Villette: Questlove, Musique Large

    Doors Open 11pm

    Parc de la Villette
    211 avenue Jean Jaurès – 75019 Paris

    Reservation phone numbers: +31 1 44 84 44 84 / +31 1 40 03 75 75
    Online tickets: www.jazzalavillette.com

    Tickets:
    €15 en préventes / presales
    €20 à la caisse / at the door
    €40 ticket groupé soirée et concert du 11.09.2011 / combined ticket for both events

  • Grande Halle de la Villette: Questlove, Tony Allen, Black Thought, Macy Gray, Amp Fiddler, Mamani Keita, Afro-Picks Big Band

    Doors Open 8pm
    211, Avenue Jean-Jaurès – Paris 19
    Reservation phone numbers: +31 1 44 84 44 84 / +31 1 40 03 75 75
    Online tickets: www.jazzalavillette.com

    Tickets:
    €30 en préventes / presales
    €40 ticket groupé soirée et concert du 11.09.2011 / combined ticket for both events

Questlove

Questlove

As drummer and musical engine for The Roots, Questlove has led the creation of several hip hop masterpieces, as well as producing and overseeing career-defining works for artists such as Common, Jay-Z, Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, Slum Village, Jill Scott, Bilal, Amy Winehouse and John Legend among a long list of others.

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Tony Allen

Tony Allen

Lagos-born Tony Allen, the originator of afrobeat, was drummer and musical director of Fela Kuti’s Africa 70 from 1968 to 1979, playing on over 30 albums. Now residing in Paris, he has lent his unique drumming sensibility to a number of world-class artists such as Sebastien Tellier, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Damon Albarn, and Flea of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, among many others.

On Myspace >
Amp Fiddler

Amp Fiddler

Motor City keysman Amp Fiddler began his acclaimed career playing in George Clinton’s groups Parliament and Funkadelic, and has gone on to work with artists such as Moodymann, Prince, Jamiroquai, and Corinne Bailey Rae and many others. He is also recognized for nurturing a young Jay Dee in the studio, as well as his own successful solo career.

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Macy Gray

Macy Gray

Distinctive vocalist Macy Gray has ridden a long career for over a decade, ever since her debut album ‘How Life Is’ went ten-times platinum at the turn of the century, resulting in a Grammy Award for her single ‘I Try’. A renowned activist for underprivileged children, she also contributed to the album series ‘Red Hot’, spreading AIDS awareness in Africa.

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Black Thought

Black Thought

As lead MC of The Roots, Black Thought has had an esteemed career on the mic, not only carving a niche for his own keenly observed political lyrics, but also contributing to albums by artists like Damian Marley, Mos Def and Talib Kweli’s Black Star, Dilated Peoples, and Linkin Park.

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Martin Perna

Martin Perna

Multi-instrumentalist Martin Perna is the musical director and founder of Antibalas, an afrobeat ensemble based in New York. As well as directing five albums for the group, Martin has also played with and composed for a number of musicians, including Sharon Jones, Baaba Maal, Architecture In Helsinki, Angelique Kidjo and many others.

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Oghene Kologbo

Oghene Kologbo

Guitarist Oghene Kologbo has been an integral member of Fela Kuti’s legendary Africa 70 band his whole life, playing on over twenty-five full-length albums. Since moving to Berlin in 1978, he has toured and played with Tony Allen, King Sunny Ade, Brenda Fosse and many others, as well as releasing his own LP ‘Remember Fela!’, and in 2005, he founded Berlin’s Afrobeat Academy.

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Chico Mann

Chico Mann

Growing up in a musical family in New York, guitarist Marcos. J. Garcia aka Chico Mann has carved out his own journey in sound that traverses electronic afrobeat, 80s freestyle, and afro-cuban rhythms into a heady mix of what New York in a parallel 80s dimension could have sounded like. As guitarist for New York group Antibalas, and child of NYC’s Hell’s Kitchen generation, his sound is steeped in New York history and energy, a bubbling concoction of futurist afro funk.

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Lakecia Benjamin

Lakecia Benjamin

As leader of the Hot Spot Horns, Lakecia Benjamin is one oft he most-requested artists in soul and R&B today. Shas played with Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, and Keyshia Cole, as well as producing her own music with SoulSquad.

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Jordan McLean

Jordan McLean

Full-time trumpeter for Antibalas, Jordan McLean has been relentlessly busy for the past decade with his group Fire Of Space, as well as DROID and The Sway Machinery. Recently he was working as composer, arranger, trumpet player and assistant musical director of Fela!, the musical, as well as playing with artists like Jamie Lidell, Sinead O’Connor, TV On The Radio, the Wu Tang Clan and many others.

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Shareef Clayton

Shareef Clayton

Trumpeter and vocalist Shareef Clayton’s career began when, freshly graduated from the New World School Of The Arts, his record ‘Urban Folktales’ received a Grammy nomination. He knows jazz inside out, bringing his repertoire to the horn sections of Wynton Marsalis, David Sanchez, Candido, and many more.

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Damon Bryson

Damon Bryson

Sousaphonist Damon Bryson aka Tuba Gooding Jr joined The Roots during a world tour in 2007. He is now a full-time member of the band, especially when they play on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

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Mamani Keita

Mamani Keita

Malian singer and musician Mamani Keita is known for three well-received albums. She began her musical career as a chorister with Salif Keita before starting a solo career that led her to share the stage with artists such as Dee Dee Bridgewater and Manu Dibango.

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Shakira Marshall

Shakira Marshall

Queens singer and dancer Shakira Marshall trained at The Edge School Of Arts, and after performing in several productions, made her broadway debut with the musical Fela!.

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Rujeko Dumbutshena

Rujeko Dumbutshena

Zimbabwe-born vocalist Rujeko Dumbutshena has taught dance at several prestigious institutions throughout the US and South Africa, teaching dance, as well as directing conferences, artist in residence programs and cultural tours.

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Afi McClendon

Afi McClendon

Vocalist Afi McClendon, a Tony Award recipient, has performed in several Broadway and off-Broadway productions, notably ‘Once On This Island’, ‘Holiday Heart’, and recently ‘Fela!’, as well as many TV and film productions.

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Lekan Babalola

Lekan Babalola

Percussionist Lekan Babalola started out in the churches of Yoruba, West Africa, before playing alongside Fela, Ernest Ranglin, Roy Ayers, Branford Marsalis and Tony Allen.

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Dion Tucker

Dion Tucker

Trombonist Dion Tucker is originally from Miami, where he began playing at age 10, before moving to New York in 1998. He has played with the Jaquet Big Band, the Ray Charles Big Band, Wynton Marsalis, and the David Murray Big Band.

Cesar Anot

Cesar Anot

Bass player Cesar Anot is a leading figure on the African circuit, and has worked as a composer and arranger for Cheick Tidiane Seck, Tony Allen, Craig Harris and Ornette Coleman, while contributing to numerous recordings with Damon Albarn, Mory Kante, Keziah Jones and Souad Massi.

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Cheme Gastelum

Cheme Gastelum

Cheme Gastelum is one of New York’s most renowned saxophonists of his generation: a major player in the emergence of the new soul and afrobeat revival which emerged from Brooklyn in the 90s. He also participated in numerous recordings with Sharon Jones, Archie Shepp, Antibalas, Public Enemy and Amy Winehouse.

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Questlove’s Afro-Picks Track By Track

Between past and present, the Roots’ head honcho explains which songs he picked for the concert and why.

Tony Allen African Message

Tony Allen
African Message

On this track, we mixed the original lyrics with quotes from Ishmael Reed. The song deals with the African youth, the beauty of the earth, the Africa as the motherland. This is a song about humanity, not only about black people. At the beginning, there is this sentence by Reed: “You forgot where you come from”. Further in the song, it says, “You consider Africa as your bin, but it is your cradle”. Reed’s writing on this song is very deep; it is the main voice around which we built the show.

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Fela Kuti Gentleman

Fela Kuti
Gentleman

I think Fela worked a lot on this song, especially for the arrangements. For us, the real challenge was to shorten the improvised parts. If we had been true to the original, the show would have been much longer. David Murray finally managed to make it 10 minutes, when it was originally more than 20!

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Tony Allen African Message

Bongi Makeba
Africa

There’s no special message or secret meaning in this song, which is about, basically, African people. It’s a short song, so we first decided to extend it but we finally kept it original. I love the way Bongi Makeba wrote this song; it wasn’t supposed to bring any message, but at the end, it has something that you keep in mind because the melody is catchy, short and lovely.

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Tony AllenNo Discrimination

Tony Allen
No Discrimination

We changed a lot of thing on this song. For example, we added a text written by Ismael Reed about a man, a Nigerian businessman, who runs an oil company and talks about him in the 3rd person – a kind of modern Mobutu or something. Black Thought’s rap on this song should be among the best moments of the show.

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Fela Kuti Colonial Mentality

Fela Kuti
Colonial Mentality

This song is difficult to play, because of the horns written by David Murray with a big band twist to it. On this song, Black Thought will get the chance to literally be Fela!

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Miriam Makeba Soweto Blues

Miriam Makeba
Soweto Blues

The new arrangement we wrote for “Soweto Blues” are nice but hard to play, as were those of written by Makeba, but in a different way. This is a good song for Macy, and I’m sure she’ll take it to another level!

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Tony Allen Love is a Natural Thing

Tony Allen
Love is a Natural Thing

An instant classic! We took this Tony Allen’s song to a new level, turning it into a duo between Macy Gray and Amp Fiddler, in the wake of what Marvin Gay did with Tammy Terrel. This is a true love duo, and this is what is missing nowadays: a true love song, a “Romeo and Juliet” kind of thing!

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Bongi Makeba – Peace

Bongi Makeba
Peace

We’ve changed everything on this one. Absolutely everything! If the song is played the way David Murray re-wrote it, it’s gonna be crazy! The track could be certified gold or platinum! It’s like that. Sometimes you recreate a song, and for some reason you make it better than it originally was!

Fela Kuti – Sorrow Tears and Blood

Fela Kuti
Sorrow Tears and Blood

Be sure it will be the best song of the show! It’s a furious African anthem but we made it sound more like a jazz thing. Fela’d love it if he was alive.

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Letta Mbulu – What is Wrong With Groovin’?

Letta Mbulu
What is Wrong With Groovin’?

What a wonderful track! “What is Wrong With Groovin’?”! The lyrics are totally innocent, and that’s what makes the beauty of the song. This is a soundtrack to having fun: the song doesn’t deal with politics but with groovin’. This is the last song of the show, and I’m sure everybody will be reminded.

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Oumou Sangaré – Yala

Oumou Sangaré
Yala

Mamani Keita did a fabulous version of this track, whose original arrangements were classic yet very contemporary.

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Essential Tracks

Fela Kuti
Don’t Gag Me
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Tony Allen
Jealousy
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Antibalas
World Without Fear
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Amp Fiddler
I Believe In You
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Tony Allen
No Discrimination
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Oghene Kologbo & Afrobeat Academy
Change The System
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On Red Bull Music Academy Radio

Questlove's Afro Picks
Questlove's Afro Picks
Live at Grande Halle de la Villette Pt 1
Play >
Questlove's Afro Picks
Questlove's Afro Picks
Live at Grande Halle de la Villette Pt 2
Play >