Occidental Brothers Dance Band International
NATHANIEL BRADDOCK, Guitar
GREG WARD, Alto Sax
KOFI CROMWELL, Trumpet and vocals
JOSHUA RAMOS, Bass
ASAMOAH RAMBO, Drums
Chicago's Occidental Brothers Dance Band International plays Central and West African classical dance music, specializing in soukous, highlife, rumba, dry guitar, and other genres from the great continent. The multi-racial band mixes their backgrounds in traditional African music, jazz, and underground rock to bring these sounds to life. Word of the group's electrifying live shows is spreading as they play sold-out shows with Afropop legend Oliver Mtukudzi and art-pop superstar Andrew Bird. They were also showcased at the Pitchfork Festival, Chicago SummerDance, Millennium Park, and the Art Institute of Chicago last summer.
The band originally covered songs of Congolese greats Mwenda Jean Bosco, Franco, and Bantous de la Capitale, and their debut album Thrill Jockey/FINA features many of these tunes. The band's new record Odo Sanbra (meaning “come back, love") has taken the music deeper into the roots of Ghanaian highlife with new original music.
Guitarist Nathaniel Braddock, who leads the Occidental Brothers Band, lived and studied in Ghana and teaches African guitar at Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music. He's a veteran of Chicago's indie-rock scene, playing with many bands, including Edith Frost and the Zincs. Ghanaian Kofi Cromwell is the group’s trumpeter, whose lead vocals present a haunting mixture of English and his mother tongue, Fante. Mr. Cromwell formerly played with the much-celebrated Western Diamonds who were voted Ghana's best highlife band many times. Greg Ward on alto saxophone is a rising star of Chicago's jazz scene, having played with Hamid Drake, Ernest Dawkins, and the Chicago Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble. Young Puerto Rican bass-ace Joshua Ramos plays upright and Asamoah Rambo, also a fellow former Western Diamond member, brings energetic style and spirit to the trap drums.