In the mid-80s, when Israeli bassist Yossi Fine was living in New York, he got around, gigging with a diverse list of musicians that includes Gil Evans, John Scofield, Kenny Kirkland, Lou Reed, Ruben Blades, Stanley Jordan, Me’shell Ndegeocello, and David Bowie. Now 35, Fine plays with the authority and muscle of New York heavies like Melvin Gibbs and Doug Wimbish, but only since going back to Tel Aviv a few years ago has he really made his mark, fostering some arresting transglobal fusions and making it clear that America’s not the only melting pot with something cooking. As a producer in Israel he’s worked with pop artists like Yuval Banay as well as the magnificent culture-bridging cantor Emil Zrihan, and in 1997 he formed his own group, the Ex-Centric Sound System, with drummer Michael Avgil and three members of a Ghanaian drum and dance ensemble they’d recently seen. Agvil and Fine work together to forge the grooves, a heavy-duty alloy of reggae and funk, on top of which Nana Dadzie, Adevo Savour, and Benjamin Kouleho layer infectious vocal melodies and chants, complex polyrhythms, and hypnotic little riffs played on flute, kalimba, and balafon. On the group’s forthcoming debut, Electric Voodooland (QED/Loud), the cumulative effect is something akin to dub producer Adrian Sherwood’s productions for On-U Sound, albeit with a much stronger African component. This Chicago gig is the only date the Ex-Centrics will play outside New York on this visit to the U.S. Tuesday, 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-3160.

Peter Margasak

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Ron Biram.