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Ophir "Kutiman" Kutiel is a 25 year old musician, composer and producer from Tel Aviv. He plays drums, keyboards, guitar and bass , among others and we strongly believe that he will leave his mark in 2007 and beyond.
His music draws influences from afro-beat, psychedelic rock, funk and reggae but in different way than most disciples of Fela and Mr.Brown have done before him. Clever heads may even spot some Special AKA, Chocolate Watchband or the pre-historic drum-machine Sly Stone introduced on "There's A Riot Goin' On" on Kutiman's self-titled first album. But being clever is the last thing Kuti tries to be with his music.
Kuti just plays what he feels and the fact that he is coming from a place far away from New York, LA and London (or wherever the latest musical trend is envolving) is surley one reason why his music shows such a great deal of originality. Believe it or not, it was only five years ago, that Kutiman was introduced to the music of Fela Kuti and James Brown, through his friend and now musical partner DJ Sabbo.
"I am an UFO from Zichron, a small village in the north of Israel", Kuti jokes about his upbringing. He started playing piano at six and switched to drums and guitar at 14. When he turned 18 he moved to Tel Aviv, to study music at the Rimon College. Around that time music meant jazz to him. "But working in a local Seven-Eleven store I started listening to a college station which opened me to all sorts of music that I had never heard before." he remembers. "I was shocked and excited to find out there's so much music around."
And Kuti was quick to absorb these new influences and started developing his own sound and vision. "The fact that Sabbo introduced me to the amazing world of funk and afrobeat simply changed my life" says Kuti, who today is an integral part of the small but growing groove scene in Tel Aviv. Music-fans may have heard about the local rave scene but most people think about the Middle East conflict and the pain and suffering that it brings to the lifes of all people living in the region, when they think of Israel's second biggest city. Kutiman's first single "No Groove Where I Come From" with Elran Dekel on vocals was his comment on being a musician in Tel Aviv. "There are some great and gifted musicians in Tel Aviv, but the scene is so small we could all meet up in my room" he explains.
It was this funked up afrobeat anthem with it's cinematic finale that caught the attention of Melting Pot Music who released it on a 12" single last fall. A few weeks after becoming friends on MySpace, Kutiman signed with his already recorded album to the Cologne-based label. The reactions on "No Groove Where I Come From" were simply phenomenal. Tastemakers like Gilles Peterson, Diplo and Roskow (Jazzanova) were instantly hooked, the Parisien afrobeat community welcomed Kutiman with open arms and and "Straight No Chaser" magazine dubbed him "Psychedelic space funk architect". But once you listen to Kutiman's whole album, you realise that afrobeat is only one shade of Kuti's kaleidoscopic sound. From Westindian grooves and easy listening to rock and soul and even pop there are no barriers. "Music Is Ruling My World", the title of Kuti's third single where he features local soul and groove diva Karolina sums it up best ("Half disco, half afrobeat and mostly perfect for summer jamming purposes." was "The Fader"'s verdict on the single). And while Kutiman recorded the bulk of the album all by himself, playing keys, drums, guitar, percussions and bass he also showcases many of his friends and favourite musicians from the scene in Tel Aviv.
Elran Dekel (lead singer of Funk'n'stein), Karolina (Funset) and Chaka Moon are sharing vocal duties, Dotan ?Sangit? Segal and Idan K are playing percussions and the whole Funk'n?stein brass section (Shlomi Alon, Yair Slutzki, Sefi Zisling) is featured too. And it was Kuti's longtime friend and production partner in various other projects, Ronen Sabbo, who helped mixing the album.
Kutiman - Mother Of All Funk Chords
Kutiman - Paris Tour 2007
Kutiman - Music Is Ruling My World
The Kutiman Orchestra Live - No Groove Where I Come From
Kutiman Orchestra Interview