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Afro Jazz

An interview with the Super Yamba Band about their new EP on Ubiquity Records.

Kono Vidovic March 1, 2023 221 8 5

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On this five-track release Super Yamba Band dig into their archives and shared this very daring take on instrumental afrobeat originally recorded in 2014. The ‘Last Leap EP’ takes listeners back to days when SYB just arrived in Brooklyn and is a sonic timestamp of the band’s creative energy during those very special first days. The tracks were used trying to book their first gigs, which led them on to playing in Harlem’s African music clubs, Silvana and Shrine, as well as DIY dance parties across the city.  We ask them to talk to us through their exciting new release.

Super Yamba Band
Super Yamba Band

YETUNDE: The opening track of the EP is a dark but upbeat Afrobeat tune named after and dedicated to the great trumpeter Tunde Williams from Fela Kuti’s legendary Afrika 70 band. It starts with Eric Burn’s rhythm guitar coupled with shekere. Each instrument layers in until the beat finally drops. The horn line is darker and more jazzy than your average Afrobeat horn line pushing the sound of this tune into somewhat of a futuristic Afrobeat headspace. 

CONTROL PER CAPITA: C.P.C. has long been a staple of the SYB live show as well as a crowd favorite. It always moves people to dance and sweat! The bass line (written by Sean Smith and performed here by Doug Berns) might take the cake on this upbeat Afro-stomper. Marcus Farrar of the mighty Antibalas provides shekere and wood block on this track. 

BAD DOG: Bad Dog is the slow jam of the album. I love the intro to this song played by Sean Smith on his Casio keyboard also known by the band as “the booty switch.” It’s a smokey Afrobeat tune with a beautiful horn line. The trumpet solo, guitar solo and “desert flute” outro really put me in a dream-like state. 

XOOMBA: Xoomba was another early Yamba anthem that was named after the Xoomba Loft in Brooklyn where we would throw our own DIY dance parties. These parties were quite epic and pivotal in the development of the band’s sound as we quickly learned how to keep people dancing for a long time. The track features a solo by our friend Nils Nusens (who ran the Xoomba Loft with his wife Heather) on a mono synthesizer.

LAST LEAP: The title track of the EP might be the most adventurous of all the compositions on the album. There are two very distinct movements within the song and I just love the way the arrangement turned out. This song also features an array of instruments including Daniel Sheffield’s vibraphone, which kicks the track off. There’s also Senegalese tama and sabar drums plus a Djembe drum played by our friend Abu Dembele from Mali whose father was in the legendary Malian group Super Djata Band.

Super Djata is a big influence of ours (they even influenced the name of our band) so it’s really cool to have Abu on this track. I love the dubbed out trumpet solo (our friend and engineer Ian Hersey really shines with his production skills on this one) that smoothly segues into the outro (or second movement) of the song. The band switches from 4/4 to 12/8 time and the track almost turns into a desert blues kind of jam. The triumphant horn line felt like the perfect exclamation mark for the record to end on as the tracks began to break down and fade out. 

We hope you all enjoy these songs! Thanks for listening! 

Final words.

I want to thank Super Yamba Band for taking the time to talk me through their exciting new EP, ‘Last Leap’. The music is a testament to their creative energy and showcases an array of instrumentation that takes listeners on a sonic journey. Whether you’re looking for something upbeat or more mellow, this record has it all, from afrobeat tunes to smokey jazz-like vibes. So don’t miss out on your chance to experience this amazing musical adventure, purchase Last Leap today! Thank you again Super Yamba Band for doing this interview with me!

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Kono Vidovic at Dirty Disco

Kono Vidovic

DJ | MUSIC CURATOR & SELECTOR | PODCAST MAKER | BLOGGER Professional online interpreneur. Coffee practitioner. Electronic music culture maven. Total music guru. Infuriatingly humble problem solver. Food & sports fanatic.

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