Spotlight: Jupiter & Okwess at Music Haven

Jupiter & Okwess

Jupiter & Okwess

photo

Jupiter & Okwess

Jupiter & Okwess

Spotlight: Jupiter & Okwess at Music Haven

A 2018 New York Times profile of Jupiter Bokondji Ilola, the frontman of Jupiter & Okwess, notes that the 54-year-old, the son of a diplomat from what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, spent part of his childhood in East Germany, where he was exposed to American and British funk, rock and R&B. Upon returning to his home country, the article says, “he recognized the African foundations of those styles.” He and Okwess (The band’s name means “food” in a Congolese dialect.) now incorporate all those influences in a dance-inducing, polyrythmic stew that is sprinkled with what the Times article called “socially conscious admonitions. … His songs urge listeners to reform and rebuild Congo while they decry the legacy from his parents’ generation of kleptocracy, inequality and factionalism.” A taste of their sound can be had at their website, jupiterandokwess.com. This show should serve as a reminder, if one were needed, of how fortunate the area is to have the Music Haven series of free shows by outstanding artists. Consider that on Saturday, Jupiter & Okwess will play MASS MoCA, with admission prices ranging from $18 to $44 before heading off to play a string of festivals across France. MASS MoCA’s publicity material say the band’s ”vigorous, inventive variations on funk … add up to pure dance-floor bliss.” Which sounds good and will sound even better for free.

7 p.m. Sunday. Free. Agnes McDonald Music Haven Stage, Central Park, Schenectady. musichavenstage.org.

— Joe Stalvey

Source