Following in the footsteps of the pioneers, the guitarist-producer-composer has been working for 60 years to spread Ghanaian highlife, a national anthem that was created from an extraordinary fusion of traditional motifs – Yoruba trance, American funk, Caribbean rhythms that arrived via the ports of the Gold Coast, and martial cadences inherited from British colonization. Whether in a group or solo, Taylor has continued to transform the genre without ever distorting it, fueling it with jazz he encountered in London in the 1960s, the militant Afrobeat of his friend Fela, and Psyche Rock.
Like a rallying cry, Yen Ara (“we” in the Fante language) engages the new guard, like the Saltpond City Band that accompanies him now, young sprouts brought up on a diet of their “father” Taylor’s frenzied rhythms, and Justin Adams (Tinariwen, Rachid Taha), who produced the album. The joyful group delivers nine songs made up of brilliant brass and choruses, ecstatic rhythms, and surprising disco echoes: a shot of youth that is faithful to its roots.
Ebo Taylor, Yen Ara (Mr Bongo)
- 8-11th November – Le guess who ? Ultrecht, Netherlands