*There’s a connection between rhythm and Africa that’s unmistakable; it speaks through the drum, screams from the horn and whispers sweet everything from the bass to the hearts, minds and feet of those within ear shot of its collaborative effort. At times, that connection is found in unlikely places, like a Zongo Junction jam session where 11 guys who look nothing like Earth, Wind & Fire combine to create sound they’ve dubbed, “Brooklyn Afrobeat.”
Drummer Charles Ferguson’s six month sojourn to Ghana in 2009 connected him with a sound on which he’d been raised musically in the Bay Area and ignited the flame to gather a team of musicians to present a collective vision of musicianship that became Zongo Junction. Inserting themselves in New York City’s thriving afrobeat culture, the buzz Zongo Junction has generated due to their sharpness as a unit and the energy they present at live gigs has made them a hot ticket and a promoter’s dream. Their first album Thieves! was released in 2010, the year following the band’s formation, included a collaboration with longtime Fela Kuti band member, Leon Kaleta Ligan-Majek. It wasn’t long after a residency at Brooklyn Bowl followed and the bookings kept coming as the band’s crispness continued to improve and a few high-profile gigs allowed them to showcase their musicality.
The band’s latest release, “The Van that Got Away” has the excitement of a chase scene in your action movie of the month and is just a sampling of the precision of this unit. By the time we reach the saxophone solo, you’ve envisioned a car outmaneuvering police and then you realize that you’re seeing the rhythm and your escape is complete. This is just a sampling of how the collective influences of eleven members coalesce to create a very unique blend of afrobeat’s historic rise and this band’s funky interpretation among the ensembles preserving the sound.
When not in the studio this summer, Zongo Junction will electrify stages in New York City and Washington, D.C. among other places, but you’ll always be able to find the band at their headquarters (www.ZongoJunction.net) or socialize with them via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest under the username ZongoJunction.