Zion80: Carlebach Meets Afrobeat

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Zion 80 explores the music of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach through the lens of the Afrobeat master Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

At first you may not think that two genres like traditional Jewish folk songs and the exuberant sounds of Afrobeat would sit well together. But as played by Zion80 -- a sprawling 15-piece band led by Jon Madof -- they really do. 

With Zion80, Madof, an Orthodox Jew, explores the Jewish folk music of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach and filters that through the sounds and Nigerian polyrhythms of Afrobeat master Fela Anikulapo Kuti. The band, named in homage to Kuti's ensembles Afrika 70 and Egypt 80, sets the beautiful melodies of Carlebach on top of dense arrangements and complex beats -- all with the sensibility of New York's downtown improvised music scene. The result is an energetic and spiritual genre mash-up that must be heard.

Hear Madof and Zion80 perform in the Soundcheck studio.