Jul 15, 2011

Ebo Taylor - An interview from 2010

The translation was technically supported. Due to this there may be some mistakes in the english version, whereby the orginal version was in German. Everyone interested in the German version, check out the links. But still the english version seems to interesting to hide. Enjoy!!!


These days the first internationally distributed album of Highlife and Afrobeat luminary Ebo Taylor is published.

That titling this as one of the founding fathers of West African musical culture is by no means too high, shows an impressive CV of the Ghanaian. "I've had six years of the first instruments on the slopes. Since my father was a good piano player, I learned quickly, "recalls Taylor. With 20 years Ebo stands as a leader of the Stargazers and the Broadway Dance Band on the stage, before it pulls him out of the 1962 fishing town on the Ghanaian coast Saltpond to Europe. In London he studied at the School of Music Eric Guilder. During his studies, he keeps meeting the man considered the father of Afrobeat: Fela Kuti. While driving the Kuti Afrobeat, celebrating Ebo new ways and begin to enrich the traditional highlife to western jazz elements and the playful use of guitars - his status as a signpost for the high life is still undisputed. Back in Ghana, Taylor worked as in-house producer for local labels like Gapophone Essiebons and shapes and decide the African music scene continues - also, because he is taking risks. "Over the years I've noticed that I started looking more and more to other genres such as Rock the interest," recalls Ebo Taylor, and from then on be incorporated more and more guitar riffs and funk licks in the traditional Ghanaian music. The result: a very special blend of highlife, afrobeat, jazz and rock.

Mixed old and new

Has taken the old master, 'Love & Death "in Berlin with the Afrobeat Academy - stuck behind several musicians from the Kabu Kabu collective, the Ghanaian legend Marijata and the Afrobeat combo Poets of Rhythm. Together they took the album in a few days in the capital. Was to go "with the Afrobeat Academy into the studio for me a very conscious decision," said Ebo Taylor. "When I was last year for a gig in Germany, we had the first sessions. We played around a bit and the guys really had a great mind. The energy was so good that we are directly on the spot if still wrote some songs. "The intensive recording sessions, you realize, 'Love & Death" certainly on. Due to the coherent sound image sounds the whole album as a unified whole - and this despite or perhaps because he has Ebo Taylor decided some of his earlier compositions, such as the title track "Love & Death" or the jazzy "Victory", with the taking album. The amazing thing: Even the compositions, which already have a few more years under his belt, differ in any way by the sound of the new arrangements. A phenomenon which was observed already at least companions such as Mulatu Astatke, Arthur Verocai or Tony Allen: Musical timelessness that in the fast-moving Internet age, often too short. On "Love and Death" unfolds the magic of this music away from the zeitgeist in an impressive way - and is manifested above bargain Ebo Taylor's importance for the history of African music in recent decades.

Originally published in the German magazine hhv-mag.com, written by Jan Wehn, Pictures by Tilman Junge

The interview

"It was a great time"

From his school days in Ghana, through his friendship with Fela Kuti, to Usher and Ludacris: The interview with the 74-year-old Afro-beat luminary Ebo Taylor spans a broad range.

No question: Afrobeat is booming. Indie rock bands like Vampire Weekend to celebrate the traditional African rhythms Ranschmeiße just like the samplewütige hip hop and R & B producers. Ebo Taylor, Fela Kuti, in addition to probably one of the fathers of Afrobeat and highlife music. With Love and Death was published late 2010, the first internationally distributed album of the 74-year-old and once again clearly reinforces its status as highlife and Afrobeat Koriphäe. A discussion about the transformation of Afrobeat, Fela Kuti, his friendship with the sampling of his songs and of course the new album Love & Death, which he recorded together with the Afrobeat Academy in Berlin.

You are a musician since your are six years old. How did everything start?

Exactly. I started really early to play keyboard. At school I have pursued further and then I switched to the piano. At some point, someone brought out of the top vintages a guitar to class and I accompanied him on piano. But the instrument made ​​me immediately curious. Since I had to learn a lot and have not had enough free time, I practiced every day to play the guitar. That said, gets around and make friends band asked me if I wanted to play a concert with them. So I played the first time on a big stage in front of people. It was great and I got mad a lot of applause - which has then felt like I was a star. (laughs) Then I was accepted into the band (the Stargazers, author's note). At the end of the year we were playing one of the most popular highlife bands and at many schools for girls and boys. - It was a great time.

How you came to be a professional musician?

A little later we played concerts in the Ivory Coast, Liberia and South Africa. Again and again came up to me and said promoter at me if I wanted to play concerts. Until then, I could always put the performances on the holiday season, but eventually it went just do not - and so I decided, to be on tour and professional musician. Since I was just 19 years old. In 1959 I had my first real studio session and was nationally known.

This component had professional influence to play in their own way?

I think I was motivated by. I wanted to be a star, just like my American counterparts. Wes Montgomery or Jim Hall, they were my heroes! In addition to the actual guitar playing, I also learned arranging and composing and took over the job in the Broadway strip. That made me pretty nervous. (laughs) Eventually, it was also not particularly good and I was thrown for a few things from the band. I went to England ...

... Where you could study through a grant from the Government of Ghana Music ...

... and there is not only concentrated on the music. (laughs) I also began to write television scripts. Eventually, a piece about Ghanaian student bands will be filmed. So I came in contact with a few good musicians and founded the Black Star High Life Band. Among others I met there, Peter Keen and Fela Kuti. I was particularly thrilled by Fela. He had ideas from the jazz flow into his music and was always two or three steps ahead. I also began to listen to a lot of the time Miles Davis and Charlie Parker. I think that you could listen to my highlife music very quickly.

At some point, but you turned back to Ghana.

Ebo Taylor: Exactly. I was a freelance musician and songwriter, or arranged for the likes of Pat Thomas or "PopAgee" Johnson and played in various bands and founded among others, the Assassins. But the music was not very good. It seemed to me that would be as interested in people just not for old and traditional music. I think people are missing something. I was by this time many bands from abroad. Blood, Sweat & Tears and Deep Purple. James Brown was very successful and I liked that he did indeed rock, but the African influences were not to hear. So I sat down and brought the traditional songs with modern rock influences - so I created my own version of Afrobeat. Conflict on the album, which I recorded with Uhuru Yenzu, I used as many structures of jazz and highlife. At this time, Fela Kuti came home again and formed his band, Koola Lobitos and we played together a lot. I had enough exposure and was doing alright - but there was simply not much to do in Ghana. The nightlife at the time was as good as dead Just like the Afro Beat.

You have just mentioned Fela Kuti, you already met in England. Can you talk a little bit about your relationship?

We met at the weekend and played together in the small jazz clubs in town. But he was also a bit stubborn and independent, so I did not want to hang out with him constantly. (Laughs) He sometimes came unannounced on stage and stuff. Apart from that Fela took me really a lot of things and when I called him, for example, when our trumpet player was prevented. - (Thinks) But, we really liked. But we had many heated discussions about African music. I also have no problem when people play the Afrobeat as it has made him popular - but I think that legacy is there to develop it. The best example is probably the Afrobeat Academy here from Berlin.

How did it help with the Afrobeat Academy record an album?

I was in July 2009 at a festival in Germany and met a few of the musicians of the Afrobeat Academy. We were about three weeks together in the rehearsal room. A great time - the musicians went hot! The guys were really interested and had a great desire on the project. The special was that the guys from my old songs like Love and Dead or What Is Life a very different and have given new twist. The atmosphere between us was so good that some of the new songs on the record actually came right in the rehearsal room.

Was the mixture of old and new songs a conscious decision? You hear virtually no difference between old and new.

Definitely. The old songs serve as the pillars underpinning for the new songs. And it is with the old and the new material now have to visit the same composer at work. (Laughs)

Do you have any expectations, hopes, wishes of the album?

Oh, definitely. I mentioned already told them that my approach, Afro Beat and Rock music to connect with one another, were never very successful. My wish is that Afro Beat is rocking the whole world. Of course there are such things as Hiplife - many young musicians from Ghana to use the high life as the foundation and associate it with hip-hop elements. That will not survive long, however.

A very popular example of this is probably She Do not Know by Usher and Ludacris. The two have sampled your song Heaven. What do you think?

(laughs) That's very interesting. Through this song I got the two shows in a wonderful way of what you can do anything with my music. I'm very surprised, like Usher and his producers have dealt with the original. Apart from that I got it of course also a bit of money. (Laughs)

In addition, there are these days many indie rock bands like Vampire Weekend, afro-beat bonds in their songs have.

I do not know about Vampire Weekend. But the trend that Afrobeat influence on other genres, is in sight - I think it's great.

Afrobeat has changed over the decades?

Yes, definitely - each comes with its own style around the corner. The great thing is that the basic essence is still recognizable. What I want more, however, is the Afro Beat, who also works away from its use as dance music. Just as a jazz record you all to hang up in his room and enjoys.

Originally published in the German magazine hhv-mag.com, written by Jan Wehn, Pictures by Tilman Junge

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