reviews

“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.”
-Jeff Elbel, Chicago Sun-Times, 25 July 2013

“Notwithstanding the party-time feeling of this music, however, the Occidentals deal in meticulously conceived, tightly arranged, crisply articulated arrangements. This is not a band that gets together to riff freely, in other words. The precision of their playing, the pinpoint accuracy of their cues and the careful structuring of their songs affirm that they leave very little to chance – at least in ensemble passages.”
-Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune 17 September 2011

“The Occidental Brothers Dance Band International has, with help from a series of Ghanaian and Congolese singers, turned halls all over town (and well outside it) into joyous African dance parties. But the ensemble got its start playing instrumentals, and alto saxophonist Greg Ward and guitarist Nathaniel Braddock have jazz chops to spare. Here they’ll apply them to tunes from Mali, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa in a set that they’ve already taken to jazz festivals in Vancouver and Montreal.”
-Bill Meyer, Chicago Reader, 31 August 2011

“This disc convinces me that the greatest African dance band on the planet this year hails from Chicago.”
-Norman Weinstein, The BEAT vol 26 no 3

“One of ten must-sees at the Pitchfork festival: a blend of Chicago and West Africa, with the dancefloor as common ground.”
-Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune 20 July 2008

“You could easily believe the tracks on this very sharp cd were recorded in Kinshasa or Accra years ago rather than quite recently in Chicago…OBDBI offer up simply stunning instrumentals recalling the golden ages of rumba, highlife and other African styles”
-T. Orr, World Music Central, 12 May 2007

Odo Sanbra [Occidental Brothers, 2009]
Led by Nathaniel Braddock, a Michigan history prof’s son who mastered highlife guitar to signify his distance from the other kids in his Dow Chemical town, and featuring two members of the Western Diamonds, the biggest Ghanaian highlife band of the ’90s, proof that preservationism can be fun. Stopping off for an idiomatic cover of New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle” (wherein Braddock noticed a sikyi progression) and finishing with the ’20s chestnut “Yaa Amponsah” (whereof Braddock tracked down an original 78), it’s tuneful like all great highlife is tuneful–with Chicago saxman about town Greg Ward taking the hooky second guitar parts, maybe more. Chicago bassist Joshua Ramos is the anchor-for-hire, Kofi Cromwell sings lovely and blows his own horn, Andrew Bird contributes a violin cameo, and Asamoah Rambo is the rare African who knows his way around a trap set. Like they say so much more often than is true–sweet. A--”
-Robert Christgau’s Consumers’ Guide, June 2009

“On Odo Sanbra, Occidental Brothers Dance Band International earn a place alongside their highlife forebears by doing their own thing with the music and emerging with a sound that pays tribute to the past while moving the form forward… If highlife is going to get the revival it deserves, it could scarcely ask for better ambassadors.”
-Joe Tangari, Pitchfork.com, 3 June 2009

“A feeling of confidence prevails as well as a sense that this mixed bag of Americans and Africans have found a music that feels like home. Odo Sanbra restores the colour and heft to the nearly forgotten party music of another continent.”
-Richard Henderson, The Wire, Sept 2009

Profile of OBDBI guitarist Nathaniel Braddock in December 2009 Guitar Player Magazine