KEXP Documentaries: The New World – NOMO

Rustee Pace

Rustee Pace

Afrobeat is a style of music created by Nigerian artist Fela Kuti in the 1960′s and 70′s. When Fela traveled to the United States, he discovered James Brown’s funk style and the politics of the Black Panthers, and incorporated these into his songs. Very few artists are identified with a style of music the way Fela is with Afrobeat. And many current day Afrobeat artists like Albino, Antibalas, and Fela’s son Femi Kuti have followed in his deep tracks, only to be constantly reminded that they live in the shadow of a master.

Even though most Afrobeat bands constantly get asked if they are “in a Fela Kuti band”, the tradition of Afrobeat is inclusive. It’s a style whose nature is all about including other flavors.

Meet NOMO, a collective from Michigan who started out as a bunch of jazz students at the University of Michigan playing house parties. Their take on Afrobeat is understandably very jazzy, but in the nine years they’ve been together they’ve added sounds from neo-funk, Motown and electronic music.

NOMO lives on the edge of creativity. In the spirit of jazz music and of Afrobeat, their songs are very improvisational, and each player gets their turn to solo. They keep the arrangements simple to allow for maximum impact from the soloists.

Listen to the documentary now:

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KEXP Documentaries are produced by Michele Myers, with assistance from John Felthous and Leah Pogwizd. You can hear all our KEXP Docs series including: Punk Evolution, Masters of Turntablism, The Heart of Soul, Pop Goes Electronic and more in the On Demand section of kexp.org.

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