Jul 15, 2009

Peter King - Shango


Peter King was born in 1938 in Enugu in the eastern region of Nigeria and grew up in Lokoja, Lagos and Port Harcourt. Both of his parents are from Ijagba in the then Western region of Nigeria, now Ose Local Government of Ondo State. King attended St Marys School Lokoja, St pauls School. Ebute Metta, Lagos and St marys school Port Harcourt. He attended Enitoncan College P.H from 1953 - 1956.

His first taste of music came at the age of six when he was taught to sing the tonic solfa by a Reveerand Father Daffey at St Marys , Lokoja. He later joined the school band playing the side drum. There was also the traditional family "Konkoma" band of which he was the leader.
Music proper started in 1957 with the Roy Chicago band Ibadan. King played the Maracaso before moving on to the Conga drum. He then moved on to the Easy Life band, also at Ibadan, there he started playing the double bass and later moved on to the drums. It was during this period when he started studying the Trumpet and Saxophone. He moved to Lagos in 1958 and joined Victor Olaya's band playing the alto sax. After this he moved on Charles Ewegwe's band, then to the Empire band and finally the E.C Arinze band. He was always learning on the job, trying to find his way, by trial and error, like the rest the musicians (including the band leader). He found there was no one in control, to tell the musicians what to do or how it should be done. He decided at the age of twenty three to go to England to study music.

The first year was spent at the Central School of Music followed by a year at Guild Hall School of Music and Drama. He spent the following year at London college of music before going to Trinity School of music where he studied for three years. He also did two summer holiday courses in Jazz arranging and composition in 1964 and 1965 at Boston's famous Berklee College of Music.
During his student days Peter King formed the outstanding "African Messengers" in England. This group of all black musicians played a fusion of Jazz and African music. They performed at festivals, Universities and Jazz clubs in England billed with the great and the good of the Jazz world such as Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Joe Harriot and many more. The African Messengers also served as backup band for many American acts like The Four Tops, The Temptations, Diana Ross who toured England without a band. The band recorded many 45 records, one of which "Highlife Piccadilly", a fusion of Highlife and Jazz became very popular enjoying a lot of radio air time. The band earned first prize as the best junior jazz band in England in 1964 and came 2nd in the final in Switzerland the same year.

King formed another band "The Blues Builders" and embarked on an extensive tour of Europe and Northern Africa. He came home to Nigeria in 1969 and formed "The Voice of Africa". They were based in Yaba along with Fela Kuti. The federal government asked King to tour the war front during the Nigerian Biafran war to entertain wounded soldiers. The tour lasted two months. He returned to London in 1971 and formed "Shango", they toured Europe, America and Japan. From 1975 - 1978 he recorded nine studio albums. During this period he was also director of music for the Keskidee Centre London. King also wrote music for several plays as well as television, works include Back Blast by Lindsay Barratt, Jericho by Jamal Ali, Tension Zone by T. Bone Wilson and Jorden Runt by Roly Carlten. King also did many recordings for Swedish television.Shango were one of the bands that represented Britain during Festac 77 in Nigeria. It was during this period in London when he approached to become the director of Boney M during there 1977 European tour.

In 1979 King and his family returned to Nigeria and formed the P.K band. With the band's performing a residency in the Museum Kitchen he concentrated on more TV recording, composing music for soap operas like Adio Family, Mobile Clinic and Images. He recorded two further albums in Nigeria and toured Togo in 1982, recording an album there the same year.

In 1982 he began his school of music in Maza Maza, Lagos.

The album

Composer and multi-instrumentalist is a seminal yet under-recognized artist on the Nigerian music scene of the 1970s. Though he recorded nine albums in Africa, the U.S., and U.K., Shango is the only one currently available. Recorded in 1974, King's Shango is a mixture of hard African rhythms, James Brown-styled funk, jazzed-up horn arrangements, and political messages. From the standpoint of the Lagos scene, the album is a classic of the period rivaling virtually anything that Fela or Tony Allen were putting across at the time. With King blowing deep-groove soul and out jazz saxophone solos above the chants, the music becomes a boiling pot of hip-shaking sexiness and rage. King being a formally trained musician outside of Nigeria (one of the schools he attended was the Berklee College of Music), his conception of harmony is revolutionary as he strides blues, R&B, soul, post-bop jazz, whole-tone variations, and counterpoint to edgily shift the focus of each tune on the set — note the sweet soul blowing on "Prisoner of Law" that becomes a big band extrapolation of seven shades in the key of C. The title track choogles along, burning underneath with a series of percussive contrapuntal moves that accent a bassline already fragmenting under the power of the groove, and "Freedom Dance" takes the Brown ethic of overdriven funked-up brass aesthetics into territory that reflects both Eastern repetitive chanting and the gospel shout and roll of Ray Charles. There isn't a weak second here, not a maudlin note. Everything here is so deeply blue it's the brightest black you've ever heard.



1. Shango

2. Prisoner Of Law

3. My Lonely Wolf

4. Freedom Dance

5. Go Go's Feast

6. Mystery Tour

7. Now I'm A Man

8. Watusi

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