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Osibisa - Osibisa CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.75 | 74 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars If the ominous Roger Dean cover is making you think prog rock as you know it, get ready for a major curveball. Osibisa is the merger of African rhythms with a Santana style of jazz fusion and a horn section that makes you think Chicago without the trombone. The triad of Osei, Amao and Tontoh create sinister flares of brass that either add an ominous tone or make the music as joyous as they boast on the opening track.

Most of the music is instrumental, and a fair amount of percussion solos will appear. The percussive solos aren't really solos but breaks in the music, designed more to keep the beat rather than showcase Sol Amarfio's ability. Sol's a fine drummer and can create a fine beat that is simple and danceable, yet very enjoyable.

The more standout instrumentalists are that of Rob Bailey, Wendell Richardson and Spartacus R. Wendell and Rob are more inclined to give a solo that makes you think Santana, but with African rhythms underneath. Spartacus more or less plays the melody of the song, yet still finds a way to meld it with the rhythm (''Phallus C'' is a great example of this). But, it is Loughty Amao that really gives the band something unique by bringing out the baritone sax on the occasion to provide a deep, low sound to the brass.

The tracks are sometimes as happy, bouncy and explosive. Even if prog rock and dancing don't always go hand-in-hand, ''Oranges'' (my pick for the weakest track) and ''Music for Gong Gong'' will make you get up and start moving. I can't help but sing along to the jammier ''Ayiko Bia'' (best track) and ''Phallus C'' in the beginning and get into the groove during percussion breaks.

There actually is an ominous tone to a few songs. ''Think About the People'' and ''The Dawn'' sound like rather dark songs, almost scary in their delivery. ''Akwaaba'' is somewhere in the middle with the highlight being the band members chanting the spelling of the band's name.

For an introduction into world music crossed with jazz fusion, OSIBISA would be a great start for the fusion lovers that need something to dance to. Progsters might avoid the album for some time, but the music is too dazzling to really ignore. It is minimal on the technicalities making for a long-term enjoyable experience.

Sinusoid | 4/5 |


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