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Staten Island’s soul

The Budos Band puts a distinct new twist on afrobeat



Who: The Budos Band

When: Sunday, April 12, 9 p.m.

Where: GLC

Cost: $25 in advance

There's a lot of music that sounds better on CD, after it's been perfected in a studio under the watchful eye of producers. But some music, like afrobeat - a fusion of American jazz, funk and Nigerian beat - takes on an entirely new dimension when it's played live.

Jared Tankel is the baritone saxophone player for the 11-piece afrobeat group, The Budos Band, which includes drums, bass, guitar, electric organ, two trumpets, baritone saxophone, and a percussion section employing bongos, congas, tambourine, guiro, clave, shekere and cowbell.

Born out of a pure love for music, members of the core rhythm section grew up together, playing music at an after-school jazz ensemble at the Richmond Ave. Community Center in New York. The guys would travel to a club in Manhattan called No Moore to hear the utterly unique sounds of Antibalas, The Sugarman Three, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. It wasn't long before they had all developed a deep-seated passion and appreciation for the return to real funk, R&B and afrobeat sounds of the '60s that were resurging on the New York jazz scene.

"It was more or less a totally different type of music than they had heard before. They had been hip hop and funk heads, and afrobeat, while sharing similarities to those genres, is definitely in a class unto its own," Tankel said.

They were inspired by the soulful music they discovered in the club, going on to form a band to explore that new sound.

"In some sense, it was like a staged rebellion against the jazz program to try to expand the kind of music they were playing, and then they just kind of took off and started experimenting with a lot of different genres and playing in different configurations here and there before arriving at what is The Budos," he explained.

That new group was called Los Barbudos - also the name of Fidel Castro's revolutionary group in Cuba.

"The fact that we all had beards was helpful," he said with a laugh.

But after the band was questioned one too many times about their political motives and ties, they shortened the title to The Budos Band.

"We're really not a political group. Antibalas has a very strong political message in a lot of their songs, and for us, although a lot of us probably are like-minded with Antibalas and some of their politics, we're decidedly an apolitical band."

But the turn towards afrobeat was essential to creating the distinct sound that is theirs - and theirs alone - today.