Jupiter & Okwess
The Jack Moves
1100 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is 21 and over
Jupiter & Okwess
Jupiter Bokondji was born in Kinshasa 48 years ago, into a family of griots from the Mongo region. His grandmother, a reknowned healer, introduced him to traditional rhythm and music including the famous Zebola from Ekonda (Mongo région of the equator), rythms that are said to cure the sick. From a young age, Jupiter played percussion instruments and acommpanied his grandmother to funerals and weddings. However, it was in Germany East-Berlin, where he spent his adolescence, and where his father was appointed executive assistant for the Congos embassy in 1974, that he discovered Europe and it’s vibrant music scene – the Stones, Deep Purple, James Brown etc. Here, he set up his own rock band called ‘’Der Neger’’ with fellow young Berliners; their sound was a strange cocktail of Mongo percussions and guitar Zeppelin-esque guitar. The band was successful in all the shady clubs in town. But, his father’s mandate ended.
When he was 20, Jupiter went back in the eighties bubbling Kinshasa head full of dreams, glory and sounds unimaginable to most of his friends. He left the family home, earning a living singing at funerals and playing percussion in several local orchestras.
With his earnings he travelled the Congo, searching for new sounds. These travels reinforced his feeling that all the music he heard in Europe originated from the 450 ethnic groups that made up his country, and that the tribalism that tore his country apart politically, could in fact become a unifying force.
He continued to develop his own unique style, surrounding himself with trendy musicians connected to from Europe. His idea was to reactivate the forgotten rhythms and melodies of Congo, by injecting the urban groove of Kinhasa. He called this explosive mix ‘’ Bofenia Rock’ and in 1983, succeeded in forming his first orchestra, Bongofolk, who became his musical experiment.
In 1990, he created Okwess International, a group which contained within it avant-garde artists such as Jean Goubald. This group travelled Africa, and was selected to represent Zaire in 1999 at MASA (Market of African Performing Arts). Just at the point where their luck seemed to be finally turning, the country fell into chaos due to civil war.
In early 2004, Jupiter met Renaud Barret and Florent de la Tullaye. The connection was immediate, so much so that the two French returned to record the songs of Okwess International, and other groups surrounding Jupiter, such as Staff Benda Billili.
Of this time, Jupiter says ‘ I knew something like this would happen. I was convinced of it.’’
‘The Dance of Jupiter,’ a film documenting his musical exploration was released in 2007. On screen, we see his slender silhoutte exploring the various districts of Kinhasa, discovering talent artists undiscovered and unkown by the rest of the world. Little Jupiters, he calls them.
“Today, we find many young groups conitnuing in my footsteps, dipping into our archives for inspiration; my mission is complete. If I disappeared today, I will have achieved my goal’’
Of course, Jupiter wasn’t about to disappear; he is poised for a fantastic career. In October 2011, he played Kinhasa to an audience of five thousand; five thousand people hypnotised by the powerful rhythm and energy of Okwess International. In July of the same year, he was part of the the album created by Damon Albarn, of Blur and Gorillaz fame, ‘Kinhasa One Two,’ released in November 2011 through WARP.
The Jack Moves
From the crummy and rude glory hole bandits of Newark's Penn Station to the cherry blossom lovers found just north of the city, there's a thread that stitches these disparate elements. Kids run across the boulevard as the soundtrack wafts over the streets. The few bucks forked over to the pregnant lady down on her luck could be the same notes used to cop a flavorful bouquet for a romantic conquest. The triggerman's itchy index is used both to spill rivals and thrill lovers. The Jack Moves are what this sounds like on wax.
Painted by a sound reflective of the city’s seaside soul, skate-funk punks and the Newark Jack Swing played from transistor radios and boom boxes placed on competitive window sills, The Jack Moves (Zee Desmondes, Teddy Powell) narrative is artfully carried out on the band's sophomore offering and Everloving debut, Free Money.
As with most art created in earnest, the band's music has the ability to occupy spaces beyond its origin city. A vehicle spanning coasts and subcultures, perhaps unintended. Out west, it wouldn't be surprising to hear some Jack Moves ballad billowing from a lowrider during a backseat make-out session. Meanwhile in Japan, their hit song was hawking Big Macs™ at Mickey Deeznuts. The band’s self-titled Wax Poetics debut drew comparisons to "Off the Wall" era Michael Jackson, The Escorts and the Whatnauts. The Jack Moves then hit the road playing supporting dates, traveling the world. From Brixton Academy and Red Rocks Amphitheater, to the strange familiarity of the cherry blossomed avenues of Osaka and Tokyo.
And so it should come as something of a surprise that The Jack Moves would record most of their latest material on the fringe of Los Angeles, placing their intrinsically east coast essence into the hands of idiot-shaman and occasional platinum record producer, JP Plunier. But way out west the music was unshackled and this new sound was soul, untethered from the chains of the past.
Free Money twists and grooves, chugs and grinds, and sways - a modern, smashed-up hybrid devoid of nostalgic put-ons. Strangely enough this album could be the bastard child of The Stones “Some Girls” and Drake’s “More Life”. Underneath Powell’s sepia toned soul rhythms, Desmondes' honeyed vocals sing incantations and love letters to unbelievers ("Penn Station"), lovers ("Sunshine," "Red Lights"), ancient beings ("Three The Hard Way") and addicts — both digital and pharmaceutical ("Wantin' You,” "Money Clouds”) — all searching for something: a fix, a fuck, a dollar, a safe place, a friend, a home. Swipe left. Swipe right. Into a tangled void of fear and longing.
These are the songs young beat-choppers will be sampling in the post-millennial era.