Janka Nabay and The Bubu Gang

Janka Nabay is the undisputed king of bubu. Bubu is a frantically-paced dance music with origins in Sierra Leone. The Bubu Gang is the posse of musical collaborators Mr. Nabay has collaborated with in the U.S. to create high-octane juggernaut of call-and-response vocal interplay, juddering dance floor rhythms, synths, and guitars. Throw in improvisation and you have a sound that keeps it quick, loose, natural, and joyful. Their EP dropped on True Panther Sounds this March, and a full-length album will be released on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label later this year. Mr. Nabay single-handedly radicalized bubu in Freetown, Sierra Leone in the nineties by adding drum machine kicks and twitching synths to its airy hum of blown bamboo shoots and carburetor pipes. He relocated to Philadelphia, and after a decade off the musical radar he found a vessel for his infectious music in True Panther Sounds. He released a well-received EP in 2010. This caught the well-tuned ears of the mostly Brooklyn-based players who would go on to make up the Bubu Gang, namely Doug Shaw (Gang Gang Dance, Highlife, White Magic), Jason McMahon, Jonathan Leland (Skeletons), Michael Gallope (Starring), and vocalist Boshra Al-Saadi. A series of sweatbox U.S. shows followed, and all involved realized they had created something beyond the sum of its parts. “We speak one language now”, says Mr. Nabay of the sounds, which draw as much from Mr. Nabay’s own bubu as they do from the sunny energy of Ghanaian highlife, the extended improvisations of Miles Davis, the hypnotic rhythms of classic Afro-beat, and the swirling echoes of sixties and seventies psychedelic.