Esso Afrojam Funkbeat
Sonic Octopus Records
City living has its drawbacks. Big cities can be crowded, dirty and traffic can be a nightmare. Those drawbacks are offset by opportunities. In a vast, multicultural city like Chicago the ideal of America as a melting pot can happen. My ideal of the melting pot isn’t the same as Henry Ford’s. Rather than everyone becoming the same, folks from all walks of life come together to share mutual passions. The members of Esso Afrojam Funkbeat came from Columbia, Mexico and Puerto Rico as well as African, Irish and Jewish Americans. These men and women share a passion for uplifting, spirited music that makes the soul sing and the hips sway. The music on Juntos is founded on a Latin roux with flavors coming from around the world. In other words, it is American music.
Juntos feels like a really good street party. The band lays down an ever shifting, but always-danceable beat. “Mi Gente” is a hip-hop flavored jam with an uplifting message delivered in Spanish and English. “Mariposa Negra” sways to a Latin jazz vibe. “Stone Eagle” is built on a Cuban percussion foundation with jazz horn accents. The song is a poetic examination of migration and gentrification in Chicago. It’s a reminder that we still have a long way to go before we see our differences as strength. Of course, that multicultural strength is on display on stage when Esso plays and on the grooves of this record. Let’s get together and dance to the promise of a better world.