Friday Five: Grandmaster Masese, Otto Turtle & Friends, John Bunkley, Michael Malis, Disaster Relief
Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.
This week features Kenyan music by Grandmaster Masese via Ann Arbor label Dagoretti Records, kids music from Otto & Friends, reggae-soul from John Bunkley, experimental piano by Michael Malis, and Afro-jazz-funk by Disaster Relief.
Grandmaster Masese, Grandmaster Masese
Dr. Pete Larson is the dude behind Dagoretti Records, Ann Arbor's number one source for Kenyan jams. "Grandmaster Masese is one of only a handful of practitioners of the obokano, the unique eight-stringed lyre of the Gusii people of Western Kenya," says the record label's Bandcamp, which has put Masese's debut album up for pre-order. "The obokano is notable for its unique bass-heavy, buzz-filled, and rhythmic sound. Once you hear it, you will never forget it." While the one song from the album that's out so far is just Masese and his instrument, it there appears to be a whole host of American musicians playing on the record including guitarist Kunal Prakesh (Jeff the Brotherhood, Weather Warlock), percussionist and sound artist Samm Bennett (UA, Haco, Elliot Sharp), Detroit-area percussionist Mike List (Dr. Pete Larson's Cytotoxic Nyatiti Band), Ann Arbor bassist and synth player Dave Sharp (Dave Sharp Worlds), drummer Brian Chippendale (Lightning Bolt), and more.
Otto Turtle & Friends, The Saturday Show – The Album! and The Saturday Show – The Album, Part 2!
When AADL had to cancel all events because of covid and a large portion of the staff started working from home, library technician Toby Zurenko and his talented co-workers created The Saturday Show, a pandemic-produced program for kids. In addition to educational segments, skits, and other fun, music plays a huge part in this wonderful show, and AADL cardholders can download albums featuring music from the first two seasons. If you live outside the AADL cardholder zone, you can still enjoy the music via numerous music videos the crew created and all the shows are free to watch on YouTube.
The Saturday Show – The Album!
The Saturday Show – The Album, Part 2!
John Bunkley, Sunshine and Chocolate
Detroit's John Bunkley is the former leader of 1990s jump-blues band The Atomic Fireballs and 1980s ska band Gangster Fun. But now that John Bunkley's a librarian at AADL, we can claim him as a Washtenaw-gain-ian ... Washtenaw-ite? Washtentawnian? ... or whatever we're called and can feature his new mini-album on the Friday Five. The six soul-reggae songs on Sunshine and Chocolate swing with the sort of Motown meets Kingston, Jamaica sound that Bunkley's been a master of for more than three decades.
Michael Malis, Imperfect Intervals
The nine improvisations on Imperfect Intervals by Detroit pianist Michael Malis are all about resonance: notes ring and decay, each waveform having a chance to shine in these meditative pieces. 1473 boss Chie-An Yuan did an interview with Malis about the project over on the Ann Arbor label's Instagram: part one; part two
Disaster Relief, Back Into It
This Ann Arbor-based collective of musicians, led by guitarist Darrin James, is back with another album chock-full of dancefloor-filling Afro-funk and soul alongside Greek, Balkan, and Caribbean spices. The group is having an album-release concert at The Blind Pig on Saturday, September 25.
Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.