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Budos Band pumps up the afro-funk at Levitt Pavilion Pasadena

August 13, 2010 |  3:57 pm

Budos Band
When mammoth 10-piece afro-funk instrumental band Budos Band played the Echo more than a year ago, bandleader Jared Tankel took a break from his enormous tenor saxophone to exhort the enthusiastic crowd, "Those are some new ones. You think they should be on 'Budos Band III'? We’re working on it, and it should be out soon.”

"Soon" morphed into nearly a year and a half, but the wait is finally over. "Budos Band III" hit record stores on Tuesday, marking the Staten Island instrumental outfit's third foray on Neil Sugarman's retro-soul label, Daptone Records. Daptone is also responsible for the gritty sounds of soul diva Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and instrumental platters from the Mighty Imperials and the Sugarman 3, but Budos Band remains one of the label's star players.

It's no wonder, since the band has played more than 150 live gigs in the last two years, honing its instrumental chops to near perfect precision. Seeing them live, as Angelenos will have a chance to do tonight at Levitt Pavilion Pasadena, is an electrifying experience. Their rhythmic, gravy-smothered, horn-heavy approach to original songs, like the strutting "Unbroken Unshaven," the hypnotic "Black Venom" (which could charm a cobra out of its basket), and the melancholy stroller "River Serpentine," conjures up images of movies starring Fred Williamson and Richard Roundtree, gold chains inside open-necked collars and gigantic '73 Cadillacs.

Their music, which is a focused onslaught of guitars, bass, brass, congas, bongos, a flute and even a cowbell, may be rooted in the traditions of the past, but Budos Band is unquestionably part of the present as well. The back-to-basics group -- which recorded "Budos Band III" in one feverish 48-hour period in January -- is part of a new generation of artists who eschew multi-track, multi-month recording processes in favor of a more extemporaneous live sound. 

-- Jason Gelt

Preview "Unbroken Unshaven," from "Budos Band III" here:

04 Unbroken Unshaven

Budos Band at Levitt Pavillion, 85 E. Holly St., Pasadena. 8 p.m. Friday. Free.

Photo: Budos Band. Credit: Kisha Bari