Oct 4, 2010

Ebo Taylor - Love And Death



Information from the record label

Strut link up with one of the true greats of Ghanaian music, Ebo Taylor, for his first ever internationally released studio album.

Following the wartime big band highlife pioneers like E.T. Mensah, Taylor became a major figure in Ghanaian highlife during the 1950s and ’60s as highlife exploded. Cutting his teeth with leading big bands like Stargazers and Broadway Dance Band, Ebo Taylor quickly rose through the ranks and became a prolific composer and frontman. Taylor moved to London in 1962 to study. “I had the Black Star Highlife Band sponsored by the Ghanaian High Commission, mainly comprising music students. We tried to incorporate jazz into highlife and progressed through talking and through jam sessions, trying to develop our skills and ideas.”

Back in Ghana, Taylor became an in-house arranger and producer for labels like Essiebons, working with other leading Ghanaian stars including C.K. Mann and Pat Thomas. “I was paid to write for them and we made some great records. People were trying new things – I always loved C.K. Mann’s ’Funky Highlife’. It was fresh.“ Through the mid-‘70s and into the ‘80s, Taylor then recorded a number of solo projects, exploring unique fusions and borrowing elements from traditional Ghanaian sounds, Fela’s Afrobeat, jazz, soul and funk. Tracks like ‘Heaven’ now stand as among the best Ghanaian Afrobeat of the era.

Interest in Ebo Taylor’s music has grown in recent years with a series of Ghanaian compilations on Soundway Records and Analog Africa and an unexpected sample as Usher lifted a riff from ‚Heaven’ for his hit with Ludacris, ‘She Don’t Know’. A new Ebo Taylor album was a natural progression. “For new album, I wanted to advance the cause of Afrobeat music. Fela started it and we shouldn’t just abandon it. We should push it so it is a standard form of music.“ The result is a firing new set backed by Afrobeat Academy, a Berlin-based collective of international musicians. Tracks include new versions of Taylor classics ‘Victory’ and ‘Love And Death’ and a selection of new compositions including ‘Kwame’, celebrating Ghana’s late, lamented leader Kwame Nkrumah.

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Ebo Taylor's Journey Through African Music

A musician since the age of six, Ebo Taylor is one of the most achingly honest voices in African music. His songs have a timeless quality to them, and continue to reach new audiences worldwide. On the eve of his first internationally distributed solo album, Ebo Taylor sat down with the Strut crew to speak about his entrance into the professional music circuit, his interaction with African legends like Fela Kuti and CK Mann, and how he hooked up with Berlin outfit Afrobeat Academy. Love And Death will be out in October on Strut.

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The past few years have been good ones for African music. While the likes of Damon Albarn and Vampire Weekend have led a new wave of interest in incorporating African rhythms and sounds into indie and rock, Madlib’s third installment in his twelve part Medicine show series showed that hip-hop artists have also started to look to Africa for beat making inspiration.As is often the case when Western artists start getting enthusiastic about music from countries that were previously off their radar, this interest in African sounds has brought new opportunities for musicians who have been plying their trade for some time with only modest success. One such case is the Ghanaian guitarist and producer Ebo Taylor, who has been making music since the 1950s but has only now got an international solo release. A mixture of new tracks and fresh takes on classic Taylor compositions, Love and Death sees Taylor join forces with a group of musicians including members of the Poets of Rhythm to produce a classy and tight piece of Afrobeat. Standout tracks include the opener, “Nga Nga,” and “Kwame,” which highlight both Taylor’s ear for a good rhythm and the quality of the musicians he’s worked with on the album. All pretty impressive for a 74 year old! Top marks to Strut for putting this record out.

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Tracklist

01 Nga Nga
02 African Woman
03 Love And Death
04 Victory (Instrumental)
05 Mizin
06 Kwame (Instrumental)
07 Aborekyair Aba
08 Obra

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