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.