Amir “Questlove” Thompson has never been shy about venturing out to explore new musical genres, facilitate new artist collaborations or experiment with alternative show presentation formats. If anyone ever thought that he would curtail his explorations after landing a cushy late night gig for The Roots as the house band for “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”, they have long since been proven wrong.
“Questlove’s Afro-Picks” was the world premiere of a unique show created by musical visionary Questlove, who’s best known as The Roots’ drummer and as a prolific and an eagerly sought out hip-hop producer. This show, however, is an Afrobeat tribute to the over-the-top life and music of Fela.
Performing at revered Parisian venue La Grande Halle De La Villette, this outspoken tastemaker offers a contemporary tribute to African musical history through a selection of tracks played by the Afro-Picks Big Band, featuring Nigerian drummer Tony Oladipo Allen on drums, eclectic songstress Macy Gray, Black Thought of The Roots, Mamani Keita, and Detroit indie soul artist Amp Fiddler, as well as members of Afrobeat band Antibalas, The David Murray Big Band (whose leader provided the night’s arrangements), The Roots, The Tony Allen Band, and members of “Fela!”, the tremendously successful Broadway musical presented by hip-hop mogul Sean “Jay-Z” Carter and Hollywood power couple Jada and Will Smith. “Fela!” begins its second Broadway run this fall.
“Questlove’s Afro-Picks”, presented by energy drink Red Bull, is a unique proposition, straddling tradition and modernity, struggle and liberation, music and politics and is an unabashed homage to the musical legacy of musical advocacy and bombastic production and stage-filling performances of the late Nigerian maestro Fela Anikulapo Kuti (15 October 1938 — 2 August 1997).
For complete story and to listen to some of the band’s tracks, go to: Red Bull Academy Radio