Since stepping onto the world beat music scene in 2009, The Brand New Life has been uplifting audiences with a sound that is as enlivening as the name implies. The six-piece band has become recognized as one of the East Coast’s top Afrobeat groups, sharing the stage with world-renowned all-stars such as Nigerian Afrobeat royalty Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 and American Afrobeat collective Antibalas. With an adventurous original repertoire, the band avoids being classified as purely Afrobeat by drawing on a number of musical influences from indie pop/rock to modern jazz. The result is a rousing, danceable melting pot of sound, powered by fierce polyrhythm and forceful horns that can be heard on their 2013 release The Brand New Life EP.
Based in Brooklyn, New York the group tackles songwriting as a collective, with each band member pulling from widely diverse musical backgrounds. The rhythm section, including Evan Frierson (congas/talking drum/candombe/percussion) and Daniel Yount (drum set/percussion), blends drumming influences from West Africa, Uruguay, and Cuba. The influence of regular guest and Wolof griot Mamadou Mbengue (tama, aka talking drum) has led to explorations of Mbalax, the pop music of Mbengue’s native home, Senegal. TBNL’s horn section of Walter Fancourt (tenor sax/flute) and Sean Smith (trumpet) is equally noteworthy, having toured with rising indie bands Reptar and Rubblebucket in 2012 and 2013. Rounding out the rhythm section are Seth Barden (upright/electric bass) and Will Darity (electric guitar), prominent musicians from the North Carolina jazz scene. Members have also been involved in several side projects, including Mamadou’s Fantastic Band, playing traditional Senegalese music, and metal-infused jazz group Trioscapes, whose album Separate Realities cracked the Billboard charts in 2012.