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In the spotlight: Occidental Brothers Dance Band International

Occidental Brothers Dance BInternational

Occidental Brothers Dance Band International

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Updated: July 25, 2013 10:22AM

Since being founded in 2006 by guitarist Nathaniel Braddock, the Occidental Brothers Dance Band International has been among Chicago’s richest musical treasures. In addition to scores of headlining club dates, the sextet has performed its African-based music alongside jùjú musician King Sunny Ade and celebrated Zimbabwean singer Oliver Mtukudzi. The band has also collaborated with esteemed Congolese vocalist Samba Mapangala.

Although separated by fundamental regional differences to Nigerian Afrobeat, ears acclimated to Fela Kuti’s bracing sound should latch onto OBDBI’s more overtly joyful style with ease.

Braddock’s clean style is deeply entrenched in African music, but his fluid playing appeals to fans of Western players influenced by Afropop. Examples include Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr and Tommy “TNT” Brenneck of The Budos Band.

Previously, the group specialized in West African Highlife rooted in Ghana. After some retooling, OBDBI has added singer Matthew Tembo of Zambia. Braddock has long claimed Congo style as a passion. He and his bandmates are eagerly reinventing their music to incorporate sounds from Central and Southern Africa.

The group is anchored by locally revered jazz musicians including Greg Ward on alto saxophone. Second guitarist Antonio Carella facilitates the pivotal interplay required of the ebullient Congolese soukous sound.

♦ Occidental Brothers Dance Band International, with guests Diali Cissokho and Kaira Ba; 9:30 p.m. July 27, Martyrs’, 3855 N. Lincoln. $10. (773) 404-9494;

Jeff Elbel is a local free-lance writer.

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