World Music Festival presents Janka Nabay & The Bubu Gang with Leni Stern African Trio
Wednesday, Sep 18, 2013 7:00 PM CDT
Mayne Stage, Chicago, IL
18 years and over
Janka Nabay is the undisputed king of bubu, a frantically-paced dance music with ancient, magical origins in Sierra Leone. The Bubu Gang are the posse of musical collaborators he has hooked up with in the US (featuring members of Skeletons and Gang Gang Dance among others), to create a wild, high-octane juggernaut of call-and-response vocal interplay, juddering dancefloor rhythms, synths and guitars: throw in a taste for tearaway improvisation and you have an absolute blast of a sound, that keeps it quick, loose and natural and runs on pure musical joy. Ready to hit hard and true in full band format at festivals worldwide in 2012. An EP drops on True Panther Sounds in March before a full-length album on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label later in the year.
Janka single-handedly radicalised bubu in his native Freetown, Sierra Leone in the nineties, adding drum machine kicks and twitching synths to its airy hum of blown bamboo shoots and carburetor pipes. Then he relocated to Philadelphia, and after a decade off the musical radar he found a Stateside vessel for his infectious music in True Panther Sounds, who released a well-received EP in 2010. This caught the well-tuned ears of the mostly Brooklyn-based players who would go on to make up the Bubu Gang, namely Doug Shaw (Gang Gang Dance, Highlife, White Magic), Jason McMahon & Jonathan Leland (Skeletons), Michael Gallope (Starring) and vocalist Boshra Al-Saadi (Saadi): a series of sweatbox US shows followed, and all involved realized they had birthed something beyond the sum of its parts: “We speak one language now”, says Janka of these exciting new sounds, that draw as much from Janka’s own bubu as they do from the sunny energy of Ghanaian highlife, the extended improvisations of 70s Miles Davis, the hypnotic rhythms of classic Afro-beat and the swirling echoes of 60s and 70s psychedelia.
Born in Munich, Germany, Leni started playing piano at the age of six and guitar at eleven. At seventeen, she formed her own acting company, and her radical productions sold out houses across Europe. In 1977, she turned her attention to music and left for the United States to study film scoring at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Scoring gave way to her love for guitar and in 1981, Leni moved to New York to play in a variety of rock and jazz bands. In 1983, she formed a group of her own with Paul Motion on drums and Bill Frisell on guitar. As a recording artist, she originally made a name for herself in jazz circles (her first nine albums were instrumental,) then crossed her talents over into the singer-songwriter realm, garnering consistent praise in the process. Critics have said her music incorporates “intelligent lyrics and beautifully drawn vignettes” (Washington Post), “crystalline, jazz-meets-blues guitar lines” (Guitar Player), and “thoughtful structure, evocative moods, attention to groove” (San Francisco Bay Guardian). A “Fleet and Lyrical guitarist”, (The New Yorker). “A Gifted Singer-Songwriter with a Wide-Ranging Sensibility and Sophisticated Guitar and Harmonic Chops” (The Boston Globe). Leni runs her own label, LSR/RED.