FEMI KUTI Day By Day
(Mercer Street Records; November 18th, 2008)
First studio album in seven years by reigning King of Afrobeat
Not content to merely follow in his famous father, Fela Kuti's footsteps, Femi Kuti continues to expand his musical palette with his latest studio release, Day By Day, a hybrid of Afro-pop, jazz and urban influences. The album has been a long time coming: seven years since his last studio album Fight To Win and four years since the live Africa Shrine, on which he recorded early versions of three of the songs on this new album. On November 18, Day By Day will be released on American shores by leading independent label Downtown Records' newly launched imprint, Mercer Street. The label, Mercer Street, was created as a vibrant outlet for eclectic adult-oriented and world music artists.
Femi's sabbatical from recording surprisingly allowed him to learn a lot more about being a musician. Femi learned to play piano properly and returned to the trumpet, his first instrument, which he gave up in favor of the sax. The benefits are immediately apparent on Day By Day. Femi says, "Listen to 'They Will Run' and 'Better Ask Yourself,' they are more jazz than anything I've done before. That's the effect of playing the trumpet coming out."
As the album launches into opening track "Oyimbo," the benefits of recording with Positive Force, his 17-piece band, become immediately apparent. Femi might shun the 24-minute diatribes favored by his father - indeed "One Two" could be the shortest Afrobeat track ever – but in many other ways Day By Day is a return to the glory days of Nigeria's big bands, of wailing organs, frantic poly-rhythms and behemoth horn sections playing against each other. Yet now the palette is broader. "Do You Know" and "They Will Run" are undeniably Afro-jazz. "You Better Ask Yourself," and "Eh Oh" carry the air of lost messages from Marvin Gaye or Curtis Mayfield. And then there is the title track, infused with gospel, suffering and ghostly echoes of work songs.
As with all Femi Kuti releases, stay tuned for remixes of these new tracks from internationally renowned DJs. Femi is currently recording the music video with fellow Downtown Records artist, Brett Dennen, for his single titled, "Make You Crazy" due for release this fall. Check back on JamBase for January 2009 live U.S. dates.
Day By Day Track List:
2. Eh Oh
3. Day By Day
4. Demo Crazy
5. Do You Know
6. You Better Ask Yourself
7. One Two
8. Tell Me
9. They Will Run
10. Tension Gripp Africa
12. Let's Make History
For more on Femi Kuti check out our exclusive feature/interview with him here.