Friday, February 4, 2011


Kwaku Kwaakye Obeng grew up in Ghana, West Africa. He started drumming at a young age and when he was seventeen, he became a Royal Court Drummer.
He later toured the world with Ghana's National Arts Council Folkloric Company and moved to the USA afterwards, which enabled him to play and record with a lot of different artists such as Max Roach, Anthony Braxton and Randy Weston.

Being a master at the African rhythms and techniques, Kwaku Kwaakye Obeng has released "Afrijazz". It displays his view, his mixture, of African rhythms with jazz.
The result is a very diverse album.
There are solo pieces, performed on tuned instruments. There are compositions that are played by small percussion ensembles and there are tunes that feature trumpet, trombone, bass clarinet, guitar and bass.

Impressive? You bet. As expected, the drumming on "Afrijazz" is spectacular. I haven't even mentioned the fabulous version of Monk's 'Round Midnight', with Paul Austerlitz on bass clarinet and with KKO on donno (on which dubs the melody!).

Unfortunately, it's the same diversity that works against the album as a whole. All the tracks on "Arfijazz" are amazing, and they all show the melodic & percussive beauty of African drumming. It's just that I'm missing some coherence.
I've got too much of a 'sampler' feeling. A fabulous sampler, that is. But still, a sampler.

Worth investigating!

Here's another African drummer, Kwame Ansah-Brew, showing how the donno (the 'talking drum') works and how you have to play it.

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