Odadaa, Yakub Addy and Wynton Marsallis brought Congo Square to the Barbican

I carried my pretentious self, with the good wife in tow to the Barbican last night to soak up a bit of culture and was amazed with the fare.  Going to listen to jazz has always been a chore for me, i prefer my music to appeal to my primal rather than my higher faculties and if I cannot dance to the music  i easily get bored, having been declared tone-deaf since the age of ten because I could not discern the difference between soprano and alto and though my music teacher Mr Tsibu wanted me in the choir but was not sure how my discord would add to the sound.

But I had been told that having lived in this country for a long time, at least I should imbibe some of the culture – not what happens on the football stands amongst their tribes but what the enlightened ones dress up to attend.  it was drizzling last night so I could not put on my full cultural attire of the velvet cloth and buba so I went in my  dashiki to listen to jazz from no less an accomplished jazz performer as Wynton Marsallis, who had kindly brought Lincoln Centre with him from New York to London.  Pure Genius!!!

OK, so the guys came on stage – smart suits with their shiny instruments and then I saw another group in their African attire trailing after them, with drums.  We all clapped, nothing was said, no introduction except that one of the ethnically clad guys came and delivered a prayer to God. Of course it was all Tswa! Tswa! Tswa! Omanye aba and all of a sudden I was transported straight to Odododiodoo, back to Ashiedu Keteke,  odom ni amafrom, ana nme aanaa te, ana te aanaa nme.  The music started and it was sheer fusion.  The saxes and trumpets blazed the drum answered.  Two solid hours, it was kpanlogo mixed with blues, jazz, distilled with azonto, marinated in apaa and sometin, gome, kolomashie and the jazz, piano, tuba, clarinet and the works, and Master Drummer Yakub Addy in his snazzy suit for the second round was a sight to behold and this Wynton Marsallis conducting from the large book.

I do not know how the two groups got together, where they met and what they said but the combination worked – the rhythm was there and the melody of the solo outbursts by the different instruments gave the audience more than a lot to cheer about and all through the show there was this subtext of, reconciliation, reconstruction and revival and what the people in New Orleans had gone through  with the Katrina disaster.

Of course I thoroughly enjoyed it.  this was Congo Square after all, the only place that African slaves were allowed to play their stuff in New Orleans and this was Odadaa at their best – signifying the lifting of the ban on music prior to the celebration of the Homowo.

Wynton Mrsallis thank you for the jazz,  Odadaa, nye notsumo le ye feo, Yakub Addy, oyiwala dong, but ‘Lagos Town pass Avenor’ and of course Amina thank you agboi agboi agboi.

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4 thoughts on “Odadaa, Yakub Addy and Wynton Marsallis brought Congo Square to the Barbican

  1. Greetings Ade. Home now in upstate New York, truly exhausted but inspired, after a whirlwind trip to London and an incredible evening at the Barbican. My exhaustion shows in your photo above.

    You said in your post, “I do not know how the two groups got together, where they met and what they said but the combination worked …”

    The history of how Yacub and Wynton got together is told in two articles, one Yacub and I wrote for the liner notes of the 2-CD set of “Congo Square” titled “Ears to Hear It”. The other I wrote was posted in The Guardian in London last Saturday, although much of the soulfulness of the story was edited out in favor of straight fact and my titled was changed to some nonsense without consulting me.

    The concept for the project came from the mind of one person, Yacub Addy. It was his ability to recognize in the spirit of another artist who he did not know and who did not know anything about African music, the ability to commit the depth of effort it would take to bring these two very different musics together. It was Yacub’s musical understanding of how the musics could work together – the Ears to Hear It. It was his patience persistence to see a vision that was sparked in the early 1980s very slowly become reality. It was his ability to teach a uniquely brilliant westerner his culture, to reach his soul. As Wynton said “reverently” in The Telegraph’s preview article (July 5) for the concert you attended, “Man, I learnt so much from that guy.”

    Backstage after the Barbican show, I was swamped by you all, as if it had been me. I did the administration; I facilitated communication; I was dedicated to the last; but the project came from Yacub. The music the way you saw it came from the enormous dedication of two artists who created it, and the talents of everyone on the stage. As Yacub said in the liner notes, “If there was no love between us, we could never have done this project. Wynton is not selfish. I gave him a chance, and he gave me a chance. I learned from him, and he learned from me.”

    Amina Addy

    http://www.yacubaddy.com/wynton.html

  2. Ataa Ade you are definitely going to make some if not all our well traditional music loving brothers and sisters who miss this mouth watering performance very JEALOUS. Well dont blame me if you get attacked. Yacub and his boys made my day. I am glad and PROUD to be there and hear the traditional GA rythms played by Yacub and his boys with Jazz. BRILLIANT.

  3. Reply to Ade Sawyer’s article in his blog, 7/11/12

    Greetings Ade. Home now in upstate New York, truly exhausted but inspired, after a whirlwind trip to London and an incredible evening at the Barbican. My exhaustion shows in your photo above.

    You said in your post, “I do not know how the two groups got together, where they met and what they said but the combination worked …”

    The history of how Yacub and Wynton got together is told in two articles, one Yacub and I wrote for the liner notes of the 2-CD set of “Congo Square” titled “Ears to Hear It”. The other I wrote was posted in The Guardian in London last Saturday, although much of the soulfulness of the story was edited out in favor of straight fact and my titled was changed to some nonsense without consulting me.

    The concept for the project came from the mind of one person, Yacub Addy. It was his ability to recognize in the spirit of another artist – who he did not know and who did not know anything about African music – to recognize the ability to commit the depth of effort it would take to bring these two very different musics together. It was Yacub’s musical understanding of how the musics could work together – the Ears to Hear It. It was his patience persistence to see a vision that was sparked in the early 1980s very slowly become reality. It was his ability to teach a uniquely brilliant westerner his culture, to reach his soul. As Wynton said “reverently” in The Telegraph’s preview article (July 5) for the concert you attended, “Man, I learnt so much from that guy.”

    Backstage after the Barbican show, I was swamped by you all, as if it had been me. I did the administration; I facilitated communication; I was dedicated to the last; but the project came from Yacub. The music the way you saw it came from the enormous dedication of two artists who created it, and the talents of everyone on the stage. As Yacub said in the liner notes, “If there was no love between us, we could never have done this project. Wynton is not selfish. I gave him a chance, and he gave me a chance. I learned from him, and he learned from me.”

    Amina Addy

    http://www.yacubaddy.com/wynton.html

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