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Tom Huntington

Nigerian Afrobeat giant Femi Kuti makes a rare Vermont appearance Wednesday, bringing his longstanding band, Positive Force — a sizable ensemble of musicians, singers and dancers — and his electrifying live show to Higher Ground. The show marks Kuti’s first performance in the state since 2013, and follows the February release of his 10th album, “One People One World.”

A follow-up to his politically charged 2013 album “No Place for My Dream,” the stellar “One People One World” reveals the charismatic 54-year-old singer and multi-instrumentalist to be in top form as he returns to his roots in Afrobeat, the buoyant polyrhythmic music with soul and jazz influences that was pioneered by his legendary father, Fela Kuti, in the late 1960s.

The new album is still political, but there are also love songs and celebrations of common humanity.

“The music is more uplifting and optimistic,” says Kuti in press materials. “I’m a father and I love my kids, so I want to give the younger generation a message of hope. Despite all of our problems, we can create greatness in our lives.”

“While Afrobeat is at the core of these 12 songs, Kuti picks up on the mosaic he began weaving on ‘No Place for My Dream’ by incorporating the harmonies and rhythms of reggae, highlife, soul, R&B, hip-hop and other global sounds into its mix, adding depth and complexity w ...

Nigerian Afrobeat giant Femi Kuti makes a rare Vermont appearance Wednesday, bringing his longstanding band, Positive Force — a sizable ensemble of musicians, singers and dancers — and his electrifying live show to Higher Ground. The show marks Kuti’s first performance in the state since 2013, and follows the February release of his 10th album, “One People One World.”

A follow-up to his politically charged 2013 album “No Place for My Dream,” the stellar “One People One World” reveals the charismatic 54-year-old singer and multi-instrumentalist to be in top form as he returns to his roots in Afrobeat, the buoyant polyrhythmic music with soul and jazz influences that was pioneered by his legendary father, Fela Kuti, in the late 1960s.

The new album is still political, but there are also love songs and celebrations of common humanity.

“The music is more uplifting and optimistic,” says Kuti in press materials. “I’m a father and I love my kids, so I want to give the younger generation a message of hope. Despite all of our problems, we can create greatness in our lives.”

“While Afrobeat is at the core of these 12 songs, Kuti picks up on the mosaic he began weaving on ‘No Place for My Dream’ by incorporating the harmonies and rhythms of reggae, highlife, soul, R&B, hip-hop and other global sounds into its mix, adding depth and complexity without sacrificing immediacy and accessibility,” said the All Music Guide.

“Impeccably sequenced, it runs from strength to strength, dazzling with expansive sonic textures, killer arrangements, and a musical genre palette that exists seemingly without boundaries,” added the AMG. “As a recording artist, Kuti has been reliably consistent, but this date is his masterpiece.”

Opening the show is Jupiter & Okwess, which brings its robust brand of Afrobeat and Afrofunk on the heels of two performances at the Montreal Jazz Festival earlier this month. Led by charismatic Congolese singer Jupiter Bokondji, 54, the group’s sophomore album, “Kin Sonic,” was released last year to widespread acclaim.

“Bokondji is remarkable both for the sense of danger and urgency he puts into his music, and for the way he matches an ordinary variety of Congolese rhythms and languages against western influences in a band dominated by percussion, bass and electric guitars,” said the Guardian. “He deserves to be an African celebrity.”

“For all the seriousness of the songs, Jupiter & Okwess make sure to keep the party going,” added the New York Times.

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