ALBINO!
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ALBINO!

Band World Funk

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Fusing classic Afrobeat, Latin funk, and acid jazz, the dozen-plus members of Berkeley's Albino offer a torrent of hard-grooving jams designed to make Mojito-gulping weekenders shimmy right out of their low-rise jeans. The sound is aggressive and brassy, informed by world fusion artists like Fela Kuti and Zimbabwe's Thomas Mapfumo, and brought up to date with a mash of spacey global inflections (think of Herbie's Headhunters shanghaied in West Africa, and you'll be up to speed). The ass-inspiriting percussive engine comes from a rhythm section of local all-stars, including drummer Michael Pinkham, bassist Kevin "Bam Bam" Blair, keyboardist Bob Crawford, percussionists Trevino Leon, and dancer Kim Agnew. Together, they form rhythms based in the West African Ewe tradition (which holds at its heart the inseparable union of drumming and dance) colored with Afro-Cuban structures. Atop the band's rhythmic maelstrom ride tightly figured five-part horn lines directed by founder/tenor player Nathan Endsley. His section enlists the formidable talent of Seattle jazz trombonist "T-Bone" Charlie Wilson and a snarling dual baritone-sax yawp from Jonathan Hoops (featured soloist for Burning Man sensation the Mutaytor) and Michael Bello. Though the 2-year-old band is still something of a pup on the scene, Albino's members' résumés include experience in local heavies from every niche of the city's musical spectrum, including Starvin Like Marvin, Monkey Knife Fight, Spearhead, CK Ladzekpo, and Hamsa Lila. This is world music that lives up to the name.

-Gregory Weinkauf
- SF Weekly


ALBINO’s hour proved to be the most crowded set at the entire (Joshua Tree Music) Festival, bringing in all sorts of festivarians looking to get the tribal beats in their soul and the jig back in their feet. They held down a funktified groove that was backed by the ultimate of beats, percussion and flying horns that shouted out at the crowd that had formed.”
-Matt Layton
- Jambase


“This Afrobeat band deserves the exclamation point following their name: everything that they do and play is exaggerated, energized, and enthusiastic, deserving of said punctuation mark… From dress to dance (and please, lets not forget the music) ALBINO! is on fire…one thing you can count on is a wildly fun night that you never want to end.”
- Michelle M. Wallace - The OWL Mag.com


“ALBINO’s propulsive grooves, jazzy horn arrangements, and socially relevant commentary turn the dancefloor into a forum of politifunkification”
-Kathleen Richards - East Bay Express


“All 11 ALBINOs stomped, stepped and swayed to the beat, making it hard for the audience to resist doing the same. Members of the horn section (three saxophones and a trumpet) were the stars, treating their instruments like dance partners and playing with such animation as to appear almost cartoonish.”
-Zane Lyon - The Durango Herald


Discography

2007 LP "Rhino"
2008 LP "Live with Karl Denson"
2009 LP "Peralta House"
2009 Comp. "Rough Guide to Afrobeat Revolution"
2009 Comp. PlanetWize "Power up the Planet"

Photos

Bio

ALBINO! is a San Francisco-based, ten piece Afrobeat ensemble that honors the fiery legacy of Nigerian musical icon and political outlaw Fela Kuti. ALBINO!’s high-energy grooves and explosive stage show are thick with hypnotic percussion, heavy horns, African dance, wild costumes and elaborate group choreography. To date, the group has won the East Bay Express Best of the Bay Award for “Best Band” and an SF Music Award for “Best World Music Band”.

Armed with Fela’s three preferred weapons of choice, front man Michael Bello contributes lead vocals, saxes, and keyboards to ALBINO!’s intricately layered groove. Bello’s deep vocal growl gives potent, stout-hearted resonance to the band’s socially conscious lyrical messages, another key component of Afrobeat tradition. The four-piece ALBINO! horn section’s boldly-syncopated barrage packs a killer whallop, while their individual solo improvisations routinely reach dizzying climaxes. Alongside Bello on tenor sax is ALBINO! co-founder Nathan Endsley, a former contributor to the trance/world-beat ensemble Hamsa Lila. Riding the upper reaches of the section’s spectrum is trumpeter Chris Brown. Baritone saxophonist Pat Byers, formerly of the globe trotting pan-African funk ensemble Aphrodesia, fattens up the horn section’s “heavy heavy” bottom end.

Anchoring the ALBINO! rhythm section from behind the drum kit is Julian Fritz. A native Oregonian, Julian is a veteran of SF’s eclectic world groove outfit Gamelan X. Dancer/chekere player Kim Agnew fuses West African, Cuban, and Salsa dance styles into her electrifying style of motion and rhythm. Agnew currently performs with several folklore companies and teaches a multi-cultural dance and music outreach program for inner city youth with the San Francisco Ballet.

Tenor guitarist Cal Reichenbach is a seasoned teacher and producer who has toured and recorded with Aphrodesia, and also performs in the jazz funk group SOCKET. On rhythm guitar is Jacob Groopman, an accomplished bluegrass and jazz guitarist who studied at the Oberlin Conservatory. Aaron Bortz from the Humboldt based Afrobeat group Afro Massive holds it down deeply on bass. Covering congas in ALBINO! is percussionist Matthew Smith, a former member of the late SF afro-jam outfit The Flux. Smith developed his afro-cuban technique with percussion masters in Ghana, Mexico, NY and SF.