By Gary Fukushima | Published October 2022
No one could have foreseen how big a splash this Afrobeat-inspired London band would make with their hit single, “Abusey Junction,” garnering to this day more than 50 million views on YouTube. Their debut full-length album features a diverse set of energetic songs, revealing a level of musicianship and mastery that should ensure the band’s staying power beyond their mellow, savvy one-hit wonder.
They announce themselves to literal fanfare right out of the gate with “Tojo,” a smart blend of Fela Kuti-ian groove and punchy Tower of Power horn riffs. “Ewà Inú” draws on traditional African drums with a deceptive rhythmic cycle hiding both the 12/8 meter and the downbeat. Trombonist Richie Seivewright, trumpeter Shelia Maurice-Grey and alto saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi all take a turn with intensely elegant solos.
On “Dide O,” the horns operate more like a chorale, foreshadowing the actual chorus by the all-female horn line, who sing as beautifully as they play. “War Dance” is straight-up ’70s funk with an African bent to it, the song and album peaking with an epic synth guitar solo by Tobi Adenaike-Johnson.
Bassist Duane Atherely anchors low-end precision to drummer Ayo Salawu, who drives the music forward with his polished, bold Afrobeat rhythms. The many moving parts of this ensemble all work together to demonstrate how African music is reconnecting with jazz, its ancestral offspring, revealing a gateway to jazz’s future.
Could We Be More: Tojo, Blue Robe (pt. i), Ewà Inú, Age Of Ascent, Dide O, Soul Searching, We Give Thanks, Those Good Times, Reprise, Home, War Dance, Intro, Something’s Going On, Outro, Blue Robe (pt. ii). (48:33)
Personnel: Sheila Maurice-Grey, trumpet, vocals; Cassie Kinoshi, alto saxophone, vocals; Richie Seivwright, trombone, vocals; Onome Edgeworth, percussion; Tobi Adenaike-Johnson, guitar; Yohan Kebede, synthesizers, keyboards; Duane Atherley, bass, synthesizers, keyboards; Ayo Salawu, drums.
Ordering Info: brownswoodrecordings.com