Chicago's Occidental Brothers Dance Band Int'l plays classic Central and West African dance music-specializing in soukous, Highlife, Rumba, Dry Guitar, and other delights from the great continent. The multi-racial band mixes their backgrounds in traditional African music, jazz, and underground rock to bring these classic sounds to life. The group has been winning over a diverse audience of listeners, dancers and rockers, as well as rock, jazz and world music critics! Word of the group's electrifying live shows is spreading as they play sold-out shows with Afropop legend Oliver Mtukudzi and art-pop superstar Andrew Bird, and showcases in the summer of 2008 at the Pitchfork Festival, Chicago SummerDance, Millennium Park, and the Art Institute of Chicago. The band is now scheduled to perform at globalFEST 2009 and collaborated this fall with Samba Mapangala on Obama Ubarikiwe, a hit song in praise of presidential canidate Barack Obama that spread all over the internet.
The band began by covering the songs of Congolese greats Mwenda Jean Bosco, Franco, and Bantous de la Capitale, and their debut cd (dist. Thrill Jockey/FINA) features many of these tunes. The band's new record, "Odo Sanbra (Come Back, Love)" has taken the music deeper into the roots of Ghanaian highlife with new original music, and into a deep sound that reflects the group's live show. At center is the singing of Ghanaian Kofi Cromwell. Kofi sings in a haunting mixture of English and his mother tongue, Fante.
Guitarist Nathaniel Braddock leads the group. Braddock has lived and studied in Ghana and teaches African guitar at Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music. He's a veteran of Chicago's indie-rock scene, playing with many bands including Edith Frost, and the Zincs. Greg Ward joins Braddock on alto saxophone. Ward is a rising star of Chicago's jazz scene, playing with Hamid Drake, Ernest Dawkins, and the Chicago Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble. Handling trumpet and vocal duties is Kofi Cromwell of the much-celebrated Western Diamonds (voted Ghana's best highlife band many times). The engine is fellow Western Diamond Asamoah Rambo who brings his energetic style and spirit to the trap drums. Young Puerto Rican bass-ace Joshua Ramos plays upright.