NOMO were conceived in 2003 when University of Michigan jazz studies graduate and multi-instrumentalist (tenor sax, keyboards, electric mbiri) Elliot Bergman and some of his acquaintances began jamming at an Ann Arbor, MI, house where many of them lived. This led to the eventual formation of the group, which recorded its self-titled EP on Ypsilanti Records that same year, after producer Warn Defever dared Bergman to bring as many people as he could to the studio. In 2004 the band (which, with album and live appearance combined, has had over 60 contributors) issued a full-length record of the same name. NOMO's mix of African beats, avant-garde jazz, and funk caught the attention of California's Ubiquity Records, who soon signed them. With a core lineup that included Bergman, Erik Hall (guitar, Nu-Tone cymbals), Jamie Register (bass, vocals), Dan Piccolo (drums), Dan Bennett (baritone sax), Justin Walter (trumpet), Olman Piedra (congas, cajon, shekere), and Ingrid Racine (trumpet), NOMO released New Tones in 2006 and Ghost Rock in 2008. Listen at
It’s party music of the first order, locking into a groove so deep you can practically feel the sweat.

When “Better Than That” came in with what sounded like a conga and a Coke bottle percussion duet I sat up on the futon, then I got smoked by both the ensuing free jazz saxophone solo and the mbira passage. I stayed with the music, all the way though to “The Seams” and “La La La”—the album’s two brief final songs that masterfully explore both the band’s astro potential and their sure-footed soul foundations.

Subtly shifting time signatures and grooves, and outfitted with more than capable soloists, Nomo sounds fresh in an otherwise saturated market.

Elliot Bergman leads these 17 Detroit musicians bangin’ blowin’ and honkin’ through some funk and afrobeat hot enough to melt a Midwest blizzard.

When the ensemble locks into Bergman’s sly instrumental themes, they sound disarmingly like forgotten favorites from 1974 Lagos.

Nomo creates genuinely exciting (gulp) groove-centric dance music that also allows room for avant-jazz, Afro-pop, dub reggae, soul and new music — Orchestra Baobab locking into an untapped groove vein from Space is the Place at a basement party.

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