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King Sunny Ade 

The unwitting progenitor of what we now call world music, Nigerian juju legend King Sunny Ade was signed by Island Records founder Chris Blackwell after the 1981 death of Bob Marley--the label wanted a new third-world star with boundless charisma. The three albums Ade released on Mango, an Island subsidiary, brought him international acclaim, but the difficulty of creating a broad crossover audience for a musician who sang in Yoruba prompted the industry to coin the reductive marketing term "world music." Ade lasted only three years on Mango, but luckily he'd been a phenomenon in Nigeria for a decade before Blackwell came calling, and he's still a giant in Africa; his following in the West remains modest but loyal, and in recent years many of his dazzling early recordings have made their way onto CD reissues, like the essential The Best of the Classic Years (Shanachie, 2003). Ade's calm, sweetly melodic vocals rest in layers of bubbling percussion--which include several talking drums--and magnificent lattices of interlocking guitar lines. At home, he and his 15-member band often play all night; each tune can take a half hour to unfold, while guitar, drum, and steel-guitar solos drift through the dense rhythms like unanchored buoys, responding to every wave. His current tour has been organized primarily by Nigerian expats who want to re-create the vibe of Ade's marathon African gigs; the show starts late and promises to run into the wee hours, and the promoters are encouraging "spraying," an African practice in which the crowd demonstrates its appreciation by sticking money to the sweaty foreheads of the players. The practice isn't unheard-of here, given Chicago's sizable African population--when Ade first blew my mind back in 1983, he was covered in cash. Prince Obi Osadebe, son of the great Igbo bandleader Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe, opens. Sat 4/9, 10 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212, $29.95, 18+.

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