The album of the week without a doubt is Ebo Taylor’s Love And Death which isn’t bad for the guitarist, composer, arranger and producer from born in 1936 – be prepared to see it in all good ‘Best of 2010′ lists very soon!
This time last year he was featured on Soundway’s Ghana Special: Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds and Ghanaian Blues 1968-81 but even further back to there was Ghana Soundz Volume 2 so it certainly is about time the 74 year old with 60 years of living the musical Ghanaian highlife; his time is definitely now with Love And Death!
The Strut label has taken a slight detour from their superb compilations (as last seen with Danny Krivit: Edits By Mr. K Vol. 2) and the Inspiration Information series (the latest being the Jimi Tenor / Tony Allen collaboration Inspiration Information Vol. 4) so what brings Ebo Taylor to his first International release?
Well he can thank Usher & Ludacris for using a sample of his on their hit ‘She Don’t Know’ (and I didn’t either to tell the truth but if you saw Usher on X-Factor the other week, I think we know why) but that apart, Taylor can be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Ghanaian greats like E.T. Mensah and Oscar Sulley.
Taylor’s music ranges from jazz to highlife to Afrobeat which is not surprising as some of his background includes being the in-house arranger and producer for the Essiebons label and working with C.K Mann (with ‘Funky Highlife’) and Pat Thomas before he got heavily influenced by Fela in the mid-70s and 80s with Afrobeat, jazz, soul and funk concoctions with ‘Heaven’ being his best known.
The backing band to Ebo’s golden sharp guitar work is Berlin based Afrobeat Academy who are adept with a new versions of the classics like ‘Victory’ and the title track, ‘Love And Death’ that both capture the authentic sound of Ghanaian rythm-n-ologny.
If you’re struggling to remember your first exposure to Fela or Highlife or anything African, Love And Death has that instant feel good vibe of being something new and familiar both at the same time with the first track ‘Nga Nga’ leading the way.
And whether you love the Blay Ambolley (who Taylor worked with at Essibons and who made a guest appearance on the still fantastic Dwight Trible‘s Living Water album) version of ‘African Woman’ (or any other), don’t miss out on this one as it’a pure gold (it’s tracks like these that make reviewing albums such a great pleasure and honour).
Afrobeat Academy features members of Kabu Kabu (who are a big part of Jimi Tenor’s sound with albums like 4th Dimension) and the second half of the album is very Kabu Kabu/Tenor, particularly ‘Kwame’ (if Tenor played electric guitar) and Fela, particularly ‘Aborekyair Aba’ but that’s no criticism: in fact, is this album better than the Lloyd Miller & The Heliocentrics album that was also released on Strut in the summer? Ouch, that’s a close one but I think we’ll find that both and going into the 10 ten lists of 2010 for sure.
Expect some ‘African Woman’ and ‘Obra’ at this months’ Jazz Chronicles gig (see details below) and apparently there’s a tour in December so I’ll keep you posted on that one but it’s worth a thought that Charlie Gillett would have loved this one – and so will you; a story of love and death that’ll last forever.
Reviewed: Ebo Taylor – Love And Death (Strut) Cat. No. STRUT073CD/2LP Release date: 1st November 2010
1. Nga Nga (5:24)
2. African Woman (7:11)
3. Love And Death (6:55)
4. Victory (Instrumental) (3:25)
5. Mizin (5:12)
6. Kwame (Instrumental) (3:45)
7. Aborekyair Aba (7:26)
8. Obra (5:37)
The Metro p36 Monday 1st November 2010 4/5 Robert Shore
Jazz Chronicles with Simon S, Martin Gordon and Gerry Hectic every first Saturday of the month – next up: 6th November at 3:00pm @ Sixty Million Postcards, Bournemouth