Aug 1, 2009

Bukky Leo & Black Egypt - Afrobeat Visions

Growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, Bukky Leo was spotted practising saxophone by the original Afro-beat drummer Tony Allen. He was immediately ushered into Tony’s newly formed band. Bukky went on to play with the great Fela Kuti where the seeds of Afro-beat were being sown. After sometime in the band Bukky decided to follow his own journey with his distinct style of jazz, funk and soul.

In 1982, Bukky’s path led him to London, where he became one of the forerunners of the Acid-Jazz scene. After seeing Bukky play live, a young A&R man call Gilles Peterson signed him to the newly formed Acid Jazz label.

Since then, Bukky has remained loyal to his roots, playing here, recording there and touring. In the mid 90s, he embarked on a pilgrimage to Egypt where he laid down the intellectual and musical foundations for the formation of the band Black Egypt, which has emerged as one of the most influential Afro-beat groups outside of Nigeria.

Bukky Leo’s next step was the collaboration with the producer Ben Mitchell. The result of this is the new album ‘AfroBeat Visions’, 18 months of creativity compressed into this work. In ‘AfroBeat Visions’, Bukky shows us again that he is faithful to his musical principals, performing as a world-class musician on each and every track. It is a record where the African beat mixes with jazz, funk and soul whilst at the same time it flirts with contemporary rhythms like broken beats and soulful house, yet maintaining at its heart the strength and groove of the sounds that Bukky has been involved in during the past 30 years.


Afrobeat Visions is the result of Bukky Leo's 18 months of collaboration with producer Ben Mitchell. It's sound draws on Bukky's decades long musical history and delivers an exact sound; afro-jazz. Joining Leo and Mitchell are several of the finest afrobeat and jazz musicians in the world, not the least of which is original afrobeat drummer Tony Allen, the man who originally discovered a young Bukky Leo practicing his saxophone in Lagos Nigeria.

The opening track may already be familiar to you as it's receiving heavy love in playlists all over the place, including shows like Gilles Peterson Worldwide and Compost Radio. It's called "Black Egypt (intro)" and it starts off with Bukky Leo's spoken word vocals and abruptly bursts into an afrobeat-jazz jam as Bukky's vocals wander through the beats drifting from English to an African dialect and back again.

The most impressive tracks come on early, and "Ako Bo Je" is among the best of them. It's sound combines the soulful female tones of Billie Godphrey (aka Billie Godfrey) with call-and-response styled male voices, over afro-house beats, string chords and low-key, jazz horns.

"Don't Go Away" opens with a funky bass line and a moment of bluesy guitar riffs that are joined by wide horns and broken afrobeats. One the greatest aspects of this song lies in the vocal performance. The combination of western and African culture in the delivery and especially in the chorus is just incredible to listen to.

The rest of the album continues in varying combinations of soul, afrobeat, broken beat, and jazz influences. You'll definitely find some gems here if this is your sound.



01 Black Egypt (Intro)
02 Ake Bo Je
03 Don't Go Away
04 Times Like These
05 The Vision listen
06 Why Cant We Live Together?
07 Dreamer
08 Dem Go Shout
09 Secular Society
10 His Majesty

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