The latest from the label that keeps blastng us with heat, Big Crown Records, has arrived. This time they introduce a full length from Okonkolo, Yoruban Santeria music that you’ve not likely heard before in your life. You may have seen the ten inch Rezos, that came out in 2016 from Big Crown that slipped quietly under the radar. But two years later, we have a full length for everyone to grasp on to aurally. This musical journey is the life work of New Yorker Abraham “Aby” Rodriguez, a Yoruba Chango Priest. Musically, the listener hears music from around the world: South America, Africa, the Caribbean, and yes, New York City. With an emphasis on the drum, always the center of Santeria offering, Rodriguez is also joined on this trip by Gene Golden and Xavier Rivera, two percussionists (playing Bata and Coro), and two female vocalists Amma McKen and Jadele McPherson. Also adding to the sound with traditional instruments is guitarist and producer Jacob Plasse, who has been performing with the group for a decade. In fact, he was who brought this special project to the attention of Big Crown. This record, we can almost guarantee, is something you’ve never heard before. Following the path closely between the sacred and secular like records from Alice Coltrane, Nurat Fateh Ali Khan, and Ravi Shankar among others, the nine songs on Cantos are not just for entertainment purposes, and run deeper. Santeria / Yoruban spiritual music is generally associated with Cuba, as well as (and also Bahia, in Brazil), brought over here to the States via the transatlantic slave trade via Africa and Cuba, so you know that it’s got some deep history, especially from those who made those journeys and ended up int eh Bronx, etc. Okonkolos presents music that is a spiritual pilgrimage for the audience. These songs take you on a journey elsewhere; another time, place, and realm. The listener is transported to a different plane of consciousness, all propelled these talented players. The rhythm and passion go between the present day world and the beyond. You don’t have to go to church to be able to feel what Okonkolo is laying down, but rather close your eyes, open up your mind, and let the music take you out of your seat and drift away. They’ve released a video for “Oba”, that you can stream below.
Pre-order for a July 20th release from Big Crown.