Dele Sosimi
Gig Seeker Pro

Dele Sosimi

London, England, United Kingdom | INDIE

London, England, United Kingdom | INDIE
Band World Jazz

Calendar

Music

Press


"London African Music Festival 2009 - Dele Sosimi Afrobeat Orchestra @ Purcell Room"

Dele Sosimi: 'a damned fine band worth an evening of anyone’s time'
OK, let’s start with a bit of icon-bashing. In some circles, to say that a current Afrobeat band might actually be better than what the originator of the style, Fela Kuti, produced in the 1970s, would be as outrageous and absurd as proclaiming that the Ruttles were better than the Beatles. Fela Kuti is untouchable and beyond criticism, just as John Lennon and Bob Marley are. But Fela’s mythological status is fed by an incongruous mix of the good, the bad and the ugly.
His insatiable appetite for women and marijuana would now make spectacular tabloid fodder. But his heroic one-man war against military corruption in Nigeria, which led to him being jailed, beaten, and eventually resulted in his own mother’s death, is the stuff true legends are made of. How could the value of anyone’s music not end up being distorted with such a monolithic shadow hanging over it?


But as a more sober appraiser of Fela’s catalogue I’ve come to conclude that although it is blessed with some great hooks and that hypnotic, immortal groove, his songs are often just much, much too long (a marijuana-steeped brain is never the best judge of when enough is enough of anything), the instruments are sometimes out of tune, and however compelling Fela’s lyrics might be, let’s face it, he was not the greatest singer in the world. So yes, I am that Ruttles fan: I genuinely find several of the current Afrobeat bands far more musically satisfying than much of what the man they owe their existence to produced.

Dele was a keyboard player and musical director for Fela in the early 1980s before joining forces with Fela’s son Femi to form the band Positive Force. Dele’s latest album, Identity, presents an artist who has decided that, hey, we can lay back on this groove a little; allow it to breathe, swing with it. Fela needed a form of music which had jagged edges and tension to offset his lyrics of protest and outrage, but Dele has other concerns. And last night at the Purcell Room his love of soul, jazz, and simply generating a positive atmosphere was what was most important.
Sosimi’s Afrobeat Orchestra are a vibrant ten-piece – bass, guitar, drums, congas, a three-piece brass section, and two female dancers/backing vocalists - who are as tight as the animal skin stretched across the top of one of the conga player’s hand drums. Then there was Dele himself, a chunky gentleman in jeans and self-advertising black T-shirt, standing centre stage behind his keyboards. At first I’m doubtful as to whether he is a commanding enough presence to front this formidable outfit. But by the third song he’s twirling round in little circles, echoing some shimmies and shakes from his dancers, and purring his baritone lead vocals with unforced authority. Oddly enough, it’s only his keyboard playing which seems almost incidental, what with everything else going on. The guitarist chipped way funkily, the bass player swung like the proverbial pendulum, and the brass section punched out perfect Fela-like riffs whenever they were required to.

When Fela’s classic “Zombie” motored into life, it’s a highlight of the evening (maybe I shall have to reconsider my position on Fela!) The girls do a quaint so-80s robotic dance routine, the bassist picks and slaps out a solo in which he seems to play more notes than there were people in the auditorium, and those self-same people obligingly sing, "Zombie!" at the tops of their voices whenever they were required to.

So in summation, Dele and his band of merry Afrobeaters aren’t as cutting edge as, say, New York’s Antibalas, but they are a damned fine band worth an evening of anyone’s time, particularly if you feel like a bit of a sing-along of the call-and-response variety.


y Howard Male
- The Guardian Artsdesk London


"London African Music Festival 2009 - Dele Sosimi Afrobeat Orchestra @ Purcell Room"

Dele Sosimi: 'a damned fine band worth an evening of anyone’s time'
OK, let’s start with a bit of icon-bashing. In some circles, to say that a current Afrobeat band might actually be better than what the originator of the style, Fela Kuti, produced in the 1970s, would be as outrageous and absurd as proclaiming that the Ruttles were better than the Beatles. Fela Kuti is untouchable and beyond criticism, just as John Lennon and Bob Marley are. But Fela’s mythological status is fed by an incongruous mix of the good, the bad and the ugly.
His insatiable appetite for women and marijuana would now make spectacular tabloid fodder. But his heroic one-man war against military corruption in Nigeria, which led to him being jailed, beaten, and eventually resulted in his own mother’s death, is the stuff true legends are made of. How could the value of anyone’s music not end up being distorted with such a monolithic shadow hanging over it?


But as a more sober appraiser of Fela’s catalogue I’ve come to conclude that although it is blessed with some great hooks and that hypnotic, immortal groove, his songs are often just much, much too long (a marijuana-steeped brain is never the best judge of when enough is enough of anything), the instruments are sometimes out of tune, and however compelling Fela’s lyrics might be, let’s face it, he was not the greatest singer in the world. So yes, I am that Ruttles fan: I genuinely find several of the current Afrobeat bands far more musically satisfying than much of what the man they owe their existence to produced.

Dele was a keyboard player and musical director for Fela in the early 1980s before joining forces with Fela’s son Femi to form the band Positive Force. Dele’s latest album, Identity, presents an artist who has decided that, hey, we can lay back on this groove a little; allow it to breathe, swing with it. Fela needed a form of music which had jagged edges and tension to offset his lyrics of protest and outrage, but Dele has other concerns. And last night at the Purcell Room his love of soul, jazz, and simply generating a positive atmosphere was what was most important.
Sosimi’s Afrobeat Orchestra are a vibrant ten-piece – bass, guitar, drums, congas, a three-piece brass section, and two female dancers/backing vocalists - who are as tight as the animal skin stretched across the top of one of the conga player’s hand drums. Then there was Dele himself, a chunky gentleman in jeans and self-advertising black T-shirt, standing centre stage behind his keyboards. At first I’m doubtful as to whether he is a commanding enough presence to front this formidable outfit. But by the third song he’s twirling round in little circles, echoing some shimmies and shakes from his dancers, and purring his baritone lead vocals with unforced authority. Oddly enough, it’s only his keyboard playing which seems almost incidental, what with everything else going on. The guitarist chipped way funkily, the bass player swung like the proverbial pendulum, and the brass section punched out perfect Fela-like riffs whenever they were required to.

When Fela’s classic “Zombie” motored into life, it’s a highlight of the evening (maybe I shall have to reconsider my position on Fela!) The girls do a quaint so-80s robotic dance routine, the bassist picks and slaps out a solo in which he seems to play more notes than there were people in the auditorium, and those self-same people obligingly sing, "Zombie!" at the tops of their voices whenever they were required to.

So in summation, Dele and his band of merry Afrobeaters aren’t as cutting edge as, say, New York’s Antibalas, but they are a damned fine band worth an evening of anyone’s time, particularly if you feel like a bit of a sing-along of the call-and-response variety.


y Howard Male
- The Guardian Artsdesk London


"Identity Review on allaboutjazz.com"

Keyboard player and singer Dele Sosimi, a member of Fela Kuti's Egypt 80 from 1979-86 and Femi Kuti's Positive Force from 1986-94, returned to London, where he was born in 1963, in 1995. A decade and a half later, he leads three bands in the city: the acoustic Afrobeat Trio with bassist Femi Elias and drummer Kunle Olofinjana, the Gbedu septet (which adds horns to the trio's lineup), and the 10-15 piece Afrobeat Orchestra (more horns, guitars and backing vocalists). Since autumn 2010, Sosimi has acted as music consultant to the London production of the Broadway musical Fela!, of whose stage band he is a key member. Sosimi also organises London's bi-monthly Afrobeat Vibration all-nighters, which present the Orchestra, guest musicians and Afrobeat DJs, and works as an educator with the Afrobeat Foundation, which he founded.

Along with Afrika 70's drummer, the now Paris-based Tony Allen, with whom Sosimi has regularly performed, and Fela Kuti's sons Femi and Seun, Sosimi has worked tirelessly to nurture and develop Afrobeat. As the fliers for Afrobeat Vibration events have it: "Afrobeat is more than a music. It's a movement." This column officially declares Sosimi a Hero of Afrobeat.

Sosimi has made two albums with the Afrobeat Orchestra: Turbulent Times (Eko Records, 2002)—reviewed in Part 16 of Afrobeat Diaries—and Identity. Both are outstanding, rooted in Fela Kuti's original blueprint but not constrained by it, and both deserve far wider currency than they have enjoyed so far.

Turbulent Times was a mostly instrumental disc which featured Sosimi's jazz chops along with those of horn players Byron Wallen (trumpet, flugelhorn), Justin Thurgur (trombone), Linus Bewley (tenor saxophone) and Tony Kofi (baritone saxophone). On Identity, Sosimi's keyboards share the spotlight with his vocals, while the arrangements continue to enrich the basic Afrobeat paradigm with infusions of jazz, Latin, traces of highlife, and funk (given the prominence of Elias' serpentine electric bass, more Bootsy Collins' Rubber Band than James Brown's Famous Flames, an early inspiration of Fela Kuti and with whom, of course, Collins played before going solo). Sosimi's horn arrangements, intricate yet unfailingly visceral, which were such a delight on Turbulent Times, are here in all their glory again. Sosimi, Elias, Thurgur, guitarist Kunle Olasoju and saxophonists Eric Rohner (tenor) and Rob Leake (mainly baritone) are the chief soloists.

Sosimi's vocals, only briefly exercised on Turbulent Times, are a revelation, like Seun's possessing an enviable degree of Fela's authority; and the lyrics (most of the tunes were co-written with Elias) stay close to Afrobeat's tradition of social commentary, sung in a mixture of Yoruba, English and Broken English. Tempos and atmospheres are mostly up, and track playing times are mainly around 10 minutes. There are two instrumentals: the urgent "Ori Oka" and the pretty, Latinesque "I Don Waka" (at 4:48 the shortest track).

Following its run at London's National Theatre, Fela! moves to Sadler's Wells for a six week season in summer 2011. Sosimi will doubtless continue to drive the stage band. His third solo album is now long overdue, and it is to be hoped that the success of Fela! will assist its recording and release without too much further delay.


Tracks: Ojoro; Ya Hand; B.B.E.N.Y.; Local Champion; I Don Waka; Omo Mo Gba Ti E; E Just Dey Go; Ori Oka; Wahala (Identity Mix).

Personnel: Dele Sosimi: keyboards, lead vocals; Femi Elias: bass; Justin Thurgur: trombone; Phil Dawson: guitar, guitar solo (3); Kunle Olasoju: guitar solo, rhythm guitar (6), backing vocals; Thomas Allan: trumpet, flugelhorn; Eric Rohner: tenor saxophone; Rob Leake: alto saxophone, baritone saxophone; Kunle Olofinjana: drums, backing vocals; Maurizio Ravalico: congas, shekere, triangle, woodblock; Lekan Babalola: percussion (9); Eki Gbinigie: backing vocals; Biola Dosunmu: backing vocals; Ant I: co-lead vocals (9).
- All about Jazz


"Identity Review on allaboutjazz.com"

Keyboard player and singer Dele Sosimi, a member of Fela Kuti's Egypt 80 from 1979-86 and Femi Kuti's Positive Force from 1986-94, returned to London, where he was born in 1963, in 1995. A decade and a half later, he leads three bands in the city: the acoustic Afrobeat Trio with bassist Femi Elias and drummer Kunle Olofinjana, the Gbedu septet (which adds horns to the trio's lineup), and the 10-15 piece Afrobeat Orchestra (more horns, guitars and backing vocalists). Since autumn 2010, Sosimi has acted as music consultant to the London production of the Broadway musical Fela!, of whose stage band he is a key member. Sosimi also organises London's bi-monthly Afrobeat Vibration all-nighters, which present the Orchestra, guest musicians and Afrobeat DJs, and works as an educator with the Afrobeat Foundation, which he founded.

Along with Afrika 70's drummer, the now Paris-based Tony Allen, with whom Sosimi has regularly performed, and Fela Kuti's sons Femi and Seun, Sosimi has worked tirelessly to nurture and develop Afrobeat. As the fliers for Afrobeat Vibration events have it: "Afrobeat is more than a music. It's a movement." This column officially declares Sosimi a Hero of Afrobeat.

Sosimi has made two albums with the Afrobeat Orchestra: Turbulent Times (Eko Records, 2002)—reviewed in Part 16 of Afrobeat Diaries—and Identity. Both are outstanding, rooted in Fela Kuti's original blueprint but not constrained by it, and both deserve far wider currency than they have enjoyed so far.

Turbulent Times was a mostly instrumental disc which featured Sosimi's jazz chops along with those of horn players Byron Wallen (trumpet, flugelhorn), Justin Thurgur (trombone), Linus Bewley (tenor saxophone) and Tony Kofi (baritone saxophone). On Identity, Sosimi's keyboards share the spotlight with his vocals, while the arrangements continue to enrich the basic Afrobeat paradigm with infusions of jazz, Latin, traces of highlife, and funk (given the prominence of Elias' serpentine electric bass, more Bootsy Collins' Rubber Band than James Brown's Famous Flames, an early inspiration of Fela Kuti and with whom, of course, Collins played before going solo). Sosimi's horn arrangements, intricate yet unfailingly visceral, which were such a delight on Turbulent Times, are here in all their glory again. Sosimi, Elias, Thurgur, guitarist Kunle Olasoju and saxophonists Eric Rohner (tenor) and Rob Leake (mainly baritone) are the chief soloists.

Sosimi's vocals, only briefly exercised on Turbulent Times, are a revelation, like Seun's possessing an enviable degree of Fela's authority; and the lyrics (most of the tunes were co-written with Elias) stay close to Afrobeat's tradition of social commentary, sung in a mixture of Yoruba, English and Broken English. Tempos and atmospheres are mostly up, and track playing times are mainly around 10 minutes. There are two instrumentals: the urgent "Ori Oka" and the pretty, Latinesque "I Don Waka" (at 4:48 the shortest track).

Following its run at London's National Theatre, Fela! moves to Sadler's Wells for a six week season in summer 2011. Sosimi will doubtless continue to drive the stage band. His third solo album is now long overdue, and it is to be hoped that the success of Fela! will assist its recording and release without too much further delay.


Tracks: Ojoro; Ya Hand; B.B.E.N.Y.; Local Champion; I Don Waka; Omo Mo Gba Ti E; E Just Dey Go; Ori Oka; Wahala (Identity Mix).

Personnel: Dele Sosimi: keyboards, lead vocals; Femi Elias: bass; Justin Thurgur: trombone; Phil Dawson: guitar, guitar solo (3); Kunle Olasoju: guitar solo, rhythm guitar (6), backing vocals; Thomas Allan: trumpet, flugelhorn; Eric Rohner: tenor saxophone; Rob Leake: alto saxophone, baritone saxophone; Kunle Olofinjana: drums, backing vocals; Maurizio Ravalico: congas, shekere, triangle, woodblock; Lekan Babalola: percussion (9); Eki Gbinigie: backing vocals; Biola Dosunmu: backing vocals; Ant I: co-lead vocals (9).
- All about Jazz


"Turbulent Times Review on allaboutjazz.com"

Whatever you may think of musicals, and most people either love them or hate them, the New York and London productions of Fela! are to be welcomed. Both have been distinguished as much by their house bands as by their leading actors and dancers, and, as a result, both have done Fela Kuti's legacy proud—confirming, if confirmation was needed, the Afrobeat originator's enduring power to connect.

That in itself is something to celebrate. And the shows have also boosted the profiles of the house bands themselves. The New York lineup is built around Brooklyn's decade-old Afrobeat ensemble, Antibalas—and has also included the outstanding percussionist Yoshiro Takemasa, from another fine Brooklyn group, Akoya Afrobeat—and in late 2010, Ropeadope reissued Antibalas' 2004 album, Who Is This America?. The show's London lineup includes ex-Egypt 80 keyboardist Dele Sosimi in a pivotal role (he's also music consultant to the production), and while we wait for the next Sosimi album, anyone who's yet to check out his 2002 own-name debut, the magnificent Turbulent Times, is in for a treat.

First, a little background. When he was only 16 years old, Sosimi joined Egypt 80, later becoming its music director. He was part of the band which produced the late masterpiece Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense (Wrasse, 1986), produced by Wally Badarou, which successfully reimagined the role of keyboards in Afrobeat. Other important albums featuring Sosimi include I.T.T. (International Thief Thief) (1979), Authority Stealing (1980), Original Sufferhead (1982), Perambulator (1983) and Army Arrangement (1985). He was a member of Femi Kuti's Positive Force for over ten years, before moving to London in the mid-1990s.

The with-vocals but essentially instrumental Turbulent Times picks up where Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense left off, foregrounding keyboards still further, and to brilliant effect. The cracking ten-piece band, which includes some of London's top Afrobeat musicians along with some of its best jazz players, nails all the key Afrobeat essentials—vocal and instrumental call and response, rich horn arrangements, socio-political engagement, tenor guitar licks, signature rhythms—while also nudging them into then-new territory. Each of the six tunes serves as a platform for the band's soloists: trumpeter/flugelhornist Byron Wallen) (two solos), baritone saxophonist Tony Kofi (two), tenor saxophonist Linus Bewley (one), trombonist Justin Thurgur (also in the London Fela! lineup, one), guitarist Kunle Olasoju (one), bassist Femi Elias (one) and drummer Feyi Akinwunmi (one). Sosimi himself solos, in a winningly melodic, jazz-inflected style, on most tracks (and sings, briefly but convincingly, on four of them). The combination of a red hot band, inventive arrangements rooted in the tradition but of their own time, and singular soloists given their heads is simply outstanding.

Turbulent Times is a little masterpiece, and it deserves—and in the Fela! slipstream may actually receive—a lot more attention in 2011 than it got first time around. It's an album that should be in any serious Afrobeat collection.

Another Afrobeat crusader enjoying the spillage of limelight from Fela! is artist (and, back in the day, Young African Pioneer) Ghariokwu Lemi, who designed many of Afrika 70's most striking record sleeves. Given complete creative license by Kuti, Lemi's work did more than complement the music, becoming an Afrobeat phenomenon in itself. Top galleries around the world are now interested in showing Lemi's work and a book is in the offing. Turbulent Times features a Lemi front cover (as did Akoya's 2008 Afrobomb album, President Dey Pass). There's talk of Lemi designing the cover for Seun Kuti's next album, due later in 2011, and another for Chicago Afrobeat Project.

There are plenty of well-produced concert clips of Sosimi viewable on YouTube, but the shaky, low-fi footage below, shot at one of Sosimi's bimonthly Afrobeat Vibration nights—a highlight of the London Afrobeat scene—conveys the spirit of the music well.

Sosimi's follow-up to Turbulent Times, 2007's Identity (Helico), will be reviewed in a forthcoming Afrobeat Diary.


Tracks: Turbulent Times (E Get As E Be); Gbedu 1; Phaze 2 (What Next ?); Big Cat Fat Cat; Di Godfada; I No Like. - All about Jazz


"Turbulent Times Review on allaboutjazz.com"

Whatever you may think of musicals, and most people either love them or hate them, the New York and London productions of Fela! are to be welcomed. Both have been distinguished as much by their house bands as by their leading actors and dancers, and, as a result, both have done Fela Kuti's legacy proud—confirming, if confirmation was needed, the Afrobeat originator's enduring power to connect.

That in itself is something to celebrate. And the shows have also boosted the profiles of the house bands themselves. The New York lineup is built around Brooklyn's decade-old Afrobeat ensemble, Antibalas—and has also included the outstanding percussionist Yoshiro Takemasa, from another fine Brooklyn group, Akoya Afrobeat—and in late 2010, Ropeadope reissued Antibalas' 2004 album, Who Is This America?. The show's London lineup includes ex-Egypt 80 keyboardist Dele Sosimi in a pivotal role (he's also music consultant to the production), and while we wait for the next Sosimi album, anyone who's yet to check out his 2002 own-name debut, the magnificent Turbulent Times, is in for a treat.

First, a little background. When he was only 16 years old, Sosimi joined Egypt 80, later becoming its music director. He was part of the band which produced the late masterpiece Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense (Wrasse, 1986), produced by Wally Badarou, which successfully reimagined the role of keyboards in Afrobeat. Other important albums featuring Sosimi include I.T.T. (International Thief Thief) (1979), Authority Stealing (1980), Original Sufferhead (1982), Perambulator (1983) and Army Arrangement (1985). He was a member of Femi Kuti's Positive Force for over ten years, before moving to London in the mid-1990s.

The with-vocals but essentially instrumental Turbulent Times picks up where Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense left off, foregrounding keyboards still further, and to brilliant effect. The cracking ten-piece band, which includes some of London's top Afrobeat musicians along with some of its best jazz players, nails all the key Afrobeat essentials—vocal and instrumental call and response, rich horn arrangements, socio-political engagement, tenor guitar licks, signature rhythms—while also nudging them into then-new territory. Each of the six tunes serves as a platform for the band's soloists: trumpeter/flugelhornist Byron Wallen) (two solos), baritone saxophonist Tony Kofi (two), tenor saxophonist Linus Bewley (one), trombonist Justin Thurgur (also in the London Fela! lineup, one), guitarist Kunle Olasoju (one), bassist Femi Elias (one) and drummer Feyi Akinwunmi (one). Sosimi himself solos, in a winningly melodic, jazz-inflected style, on most tracks (and sings, briefly but convincingly, on four of them). The combination of a red hot band, inventive arrangements rooted in the tradition but of their own time, and singular soloists given their heads is simply outstanding.

Turbulent Times is a little masterpiece, and it deserves—and in the Fela! slipstream may actually receive—a lot more attention in 2011 than it got first time around. It's an album that should be in any serious Afrobeat collection.

Another Afrobeat crusader enjoying the spillage of limelight from Fela! is artist (and, back in the day, Young African Pioneer) Ghariokwu Lemi, who designed many of Afrika 70's most striking record sleeves. Given complete creative license by Kuti, Lemi's work did more than complement the music, becoming an Afrobeat phenomenon in itself. Top galleries around the world are now interested in showing Lemi's work and a book is in the offing. Turbulent Times features a Lemi front cover (as did Akoya's 2008 Afrobomb album, President Dey Pass). There's talk of Lemi designing the cover for Seun Kuti's next album, due later in 2011, and another for Chicago Afrobeat Project.

There are plenty of well-produced concert clips of Sosimi viewable on YouTube, but the shaky, low-fi footage below, shot at one of Sosimi's bimonthly Afrobeat Vibration nights—a highlight of the London Afrobeat scene—conveys the spirit of the music well.

Sosimi's follow-up to Turbulent Times, 2007's Identity (Helico), will be reviewed in a forthcoming Afrobeat Diary.


Tracks: Turbulent Times (E Get As E Be); Gbedu 1; Phaze 2 (What Next ?); Big Cat Fat Cat; Di Godfada; I No Like. - All about Jazz


"Dele Sosimi Afrobeat Orchestra, Purcell Room"

OK, let’s start with a bit of icon-bashing. In some circles, to say that a current Afrobeat band might actually be better than what the originator of the style, Fela Kuti, produced in the 1970s, would be as outrageous and absurd as proclaiming that the Ruttles were better than the Beatles. Fela Kuti is untouchable and beyond criticism, just as John Lennon and Bob Marley are. But Fela’s mythological status is fed by an incongruous mix of the good, the bad and the ugly.
His insatiable appetite for women and marijuana would now make spectacular tabloid fodder. But his heroic one-man war against military corruption in Nigeria, which led to him being jailed, beaten, and eventually resulted in his own mother’s death, is the stuff true legends are made of. How could the value of anyone’s music not end up being distorted with such a monolithic shadow hanging over it?

But as a more sober appraiser of Fela’s catalogue I’ve come to conclude that although it is blessed with some great hooks and that hypnotic, immortal groove, his songs are often just much, much too long (a marijuana-steeped brain is never the best judge of when enough is enough of anything), the instruments are sometimes out of tune, and however compelling Fela’s lyrics might be, let’s face it, he was not the greatest singer in the world. So yes, I am that Ruttles fan: I genuinely find several of the current Afrobeat bands far more musically satisfying than much of what the man they owe their existence to produced.

A case in point is Dele Sosimi. Dele was a keyboard player and musical director for Fela in the early 1980s before joining forces with Fela’s son Femi to form the band Positive Force. Dele’s latest album, Identity, presents an artist who has decided that, hey, we can lay back on this groove a little; allow it to breathe, swing with it. Fela needed a form of music which had jagged edges and tension to offset his lyrics of protest and outrage, but Dele has other concerns. And last night at the Purcell Room his love of soul, jazz, and simply generating a positive atmosphere was what was most important.

Demi Sosimi’s Afrobeat Orchestra are a vibrant ten-piece – bass, guitar, drums, congas, a three-piece brass section, and two female dancers/backing vocalists - who are as tight as the animal skin stretched across the top of one of the conga player’s hand drums. Then there was Dele himself, a chunky gentleman in jeans and self-advertising black T-shirt, standing centre stage behind his keyboards. At first I’m doubtful as to whether he is a commanding enough presence to front this formidable outfit. But by the third song he’s twirling round in little circles, echoing some shimmies and shakes from his dancers, and purring his baritone lead vocals with unforced authority. Oddly enough, it’s only his keyboard playing which seems almost incidental, what with everything else going on. The guitarist chipped way funkily, the bass player swung like the proverbial pendulum, and the brass section punched out perfect Fela-like riffs whenever they were required to.

When Fela’s classic “Zombie” motored into life, it’s a highlight of the evening (maybe I shall have to reconsider my position on Fela!) The girls do a quaint so-80s robotic dance routine, the bassist picks and slaps out a solo in which he seems to play more notes than there were people in the auditorium, and those self-same people obligingly sing, "Zombie!" at the tops of their voices whenever they were required to.

So in summation, Dele and his band of merry Afrobeaters aren’t as cutting edge as, say, New York’s Antibalas, but they are a damned fine band worth an evening of anyone’s time, particularly if you feel like a bit of a sing-along of the call-and-response variety.

By Howard Male - The Arts Desk


"Dele Sosimis IDENTITY"

Brothers and sisters, friends, the antidote to the dilemma of Afrobeat is here.

Afrobeat is an iconoclastic music. It is essentially the creation and vision of Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who took hard bop, the modal experiments of Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock, the Afrocentric black power sentiments prevalent in the free jazz movement, fused it with James Brown, took it back to its Nigerian roots and put it all on the one. When Fela died, the music reeled for a while. Shell-shocked and two equally extreme reaction to this state of affairs coalesced essentially into two broad schools with divergent methodologies in their approach to Afrobeat.

In one school the music had turned inward; mired in their roots they relinquished the future and put out music steeped in nostalgia, trying to channel the essence or presence of Fela. Fine, but ultimately a futile exercise, as Fela had made his definitive statements. The new music lacked his charisma and his intellect, and offered nothing new or stimulating. The other school, in their bid to escape the domineering presence of Fela¡¦s ghost and to declare their originality, shed almost all vestiges of Afrobeat orthodoxy, haphazardly incorporating current musical and commercial trends. This also proved largely unconvincing and ultimately unsatisfying.

Well, brothers and sisters, friends, the antidote to the Afrobeat doldrums is at hand. With this album, his sophomore offering, Dele Sosimi, ex-Fela sideman and former musical director of Femi Kuti, has delivered a confident, passionate, elegant and intelligently crafted answer to Afrobeat¡¦s real identity crisis, and he has done this without losing the swagger and the grit that is Afrobeat. Because, to him, his identity is not in question: Afrobeat is encoded in his genes.

He is not afraid to acknowledge his lineage, neither is he content to navel-gaze, paralysed by the enormity of the music¡¦s legacy. The music is Afrobeat because Afrobeat is part of his musical DNA but it¡¦s a new music and as such must be dealt with on its own terms. In his hands Afrobeat is teased into wonderful new shapes and forms that make you exclaim: ¡§I didn¡¦t know you could do this with this music.¡¨ It is a new vision and conception. This is the Phoenix reborn. Afrobeat has been re-invented. In Sosimi¡¦s hands Afrobeat has become a wide-open genre. The harmonic palette is so much wider and far-ranging, the vistas are more expansive; the music has been liberated from the narrow (even if rich) constraints of modal minor grooves and political rhetoric. Not only does he bring chord changes into Afrobeat ¡V something quite unheard of in this genre ¡V but also the 360„a of life are dealt with here, from falling in love to the pleasures of taking a stroll. The political concerns still resonate in the music, but they are addressed in metaphors and similitudes. The direct protest associated with Afrobeat lyrics is no longer axiomatic.

Sosimi has iron chops; to use his words slightly out of context, ¡§the result of tenacity and attitude¡¨. The rhythmic intensity of his keyboard work is matched by a keen and adventurous harmonic sensibility, shading the groove with an amazing array of colours and nuances, in constant dialogue with the horns and the rhythm section, even when not soloing. And when he does solo, it is always eloquent and captivating. Sosimi is still the trailblazing keyboard player in Afrobeat.

Sosimi is abetted by a group of musicians, most of whom have either played with him on previous records or have gigged with him on the live circuit. They all have chops to spare and the communication between them is near telepathic. Afrobeat is lovingly given the virtuoso treatment. It is interesting to note that the songs were written by Sosimi and Elias, and along with Thurgur they also arranged all the horns on this album. Femi Elias, who plays a fretless six-string electric bass on most of the tracks, is a revelation. The bass growls, twists, turns, pulsates, grooves and does all kinds of things that you do not normally find the bass doing in Afrobeat, intelligently injecting the funk into every crevice of the music and in the process has written a new lexicon for Afrobeat bass. Phil Dawson (and Kunle Olasaju on Omo Mo Gba Ti E) on guitars deliver tasty, funky rhythm guitars and some truly exquisite solos. The contrast between the two is significant. Olasoju, ex-Femi Kuti, delivers solos in the classic Afrobeat style, reflecting the clear Yoruba influence of the music - its DNA - while Dawson approaches the music from a wide range of angles, again revealing the endless possibilities of what can be done with this music. Mauricio Ravalico (and Lekan Babalola on Wahala) handle percussions with verve and fluency and colour and shade the music tastefully everywhere. The horns ¡V without question by far the tastiest horn section in Afrobeat - though harmonically complex and challenging, brim with rhythmic inventiveness and are delivered w - Remi Adewusi


"Round the World Summer Selekshaan Straight no Chasers Amar Patel rounds up the troops to give us the global lowdown on what albums are hot this summer"

Dele is a Kuti protege and one-time Musical Director for both Fela and Femi. On his breaking new Album, where you'll find him playing some of the most fluent Jazzy Afrobeat you are going to hear today as a warm wind shakes your tree. - Straight No Chaser - Max Reinhardts Summer top 3


Discography

Solo Albums

Identity (Helico Records 2007)
Turbulent Times (Eko Star 2002)

Singles

Omo Mo Gba Ti E (Lloyd Perrin remix) Helico Records March 2012
Wahala Identity Mix (Sosue SoulKomplex remixes) Raw Artistic 2009
Bad Belle Remix Fatsouls Records October 2007
Gbedu 1 Ibadan Records November 1999

Featured Artist on

Bernies Lounges Red Mango October 2007
Tys CLOSER Big Dada October 2006

Albums Produced:

Calabash - A Collection of Afrobeat Poems by Ikwunga (Rebisi Hut 2004)

Fela Kuti & Egypt 80
Coffin For Head of State - KALAKUTA,1982
Original Sufferhead - KALAKUTA, 1982
ITT - KALAKUTA, 1982
Parambulator - KALAKUTA, 1983
Live in Amsterdam - PATHE MARCONI, FRANCE, 1984
Army Arrangement - KALAKUTA, CELLULOID, 1985

Video
Fela Live! Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and the Egypt 80 Band 1981, Recorded Live At Glastonbury Festival, England

Femi Kuti featuring Dele Sosimi

No Cause for Alarm (Co-Produced) POLYGRAM, NIGERIA,1989
Mind your own Business (Co Produced) MELODIE, FRANCE 1991
Femi Kuti TABU/MOTOWN USA, 1995

Compilations featuring Dele Sosimi

Joe Clausell’s “Language” (Gbedu 1) Ibadan Records 1999
Afrobeat No go Die (Gbedu 1) Shanachie 2000
Nu Afrobeat Experience (Turbulent Times) Shanachie 2002
Africanesque (Gbegedegbina) React 2002
Essential Afrobeat (Turbulent Times & I Don Love by Ikwunga) Universals "Family Recordings" 2004
Indestructible African Beats (Di Bombs) Manteca 2005
Sound Affects AFRICA (Turbulent Times Paul Oakenfold remix & Di Bombs by Ikwunga The Jinks remix) Malmaison 2005
Afrobeat Sudan Aid Project (Turbulent Times & Di Bombs by Ikwunga) Modiba 2006
Africa Plays on (Wahala) Wea/Because 2006

Projects featuring Dele Sosimi

37th State 2004: TY, Keziah Jones, Infinite Livez, Lyric L etc
Wahala Project 2005 : Femi Elias, Lekan Babalola, Justin Thurgur, Digga Elias Ant1

Photos

Bio

Dele Sosimi, the UKs multiple award-winning Afrobeat Ambassador has been consistently flying the Afrobeat flag in the UK since 1995, leading to roles as Musical Director and
Afrobeat Music Consultant for the US award winning acclaimed musical FELA! at the National Theatre, South Bank in London (2010-2011).
Dele leads various formats (trio, quintet - 15-piece orchestra) and recently toured a 10-piece on The Afrobeat Vibration UK Spring Tour 2011, following 3 years of delivering his bi-monthly marathon sessions called - Afrobeat Vibration, now Londons top underground event.

Deles Afrobeat pedigree is impeccable. He was musical director in both Fela Kutis Egypt 80 (1979-1986) and then subsequently with Felas son Femi Kutis Positive Force (1986-1994). Deles pulsating live shows demonstrate his vision of Afrobeat - one that is faithful to the original blueprint, but also clearly bears Deles own DNA, expanding the horizons of the genre.

Following his first solo album Turbulent Times (2002), he was involved in several other projects (compilation of 3-CD release Essential Afrobeat (Universal), co-writer and producer of Calabash Volume 1: Afrobeat Poems by Ikwunga, the Afrobeat Poet, featuring on British rapper TYs recent album Closer). His current album Identity (2007) was
released to critical acclaim, and his work has spurned several remixes [Sosue Wahala remix, Lloyd Perrins Omo Mo Gba Tie E remix, DJ Stan-leys Turbulent Times remix
etc).

Dele has started 2012 with 2 editions of Afrobeat Vibration in London and by being the first Afrobeat artist to perform in India at the M.A.D Festival at the Fern Hills Palace in Ooty, Tamil Nadu. He is also working on his 3rd Album with plans to release a single this Summer.

He is also producing "Ikwunga" the Afrobeat Poets 2nd Album due to be released in 2012 with co producer and writer Femi Elias.

SOME REVIEWS
the most satisfying act of the day the glorious interplay of scorching horns, pulsing electric piano and endlessly shifting rhythm section had the audience packed round the
Radio 3 stage leaping in delight. (WOMAD 2010 By Mark Hudson, Daily Telegraph)
the most fluent Afrobeat youre going to hear today as a warm wind shakes your tree (Max Reinhardt, Straight No Chaser magazine, Summer 2007)
Dele elevates Afro-jazz unto a new realm, the realm of cosmopolitanism a confounding hybrid of Euro-classical and Afro-ritual (Xtrax magazine, 2003)
Sosimi creates some of the most bewitching grooves in modern African music. Its little wonder that Afrobeat patterns are sampled by DJs from Mushin to Manhattan represents the leading edge of African jazz (John Stevenson, EjazzNews)
Live, its a kicking set and worth getting a seat with a matching dance floor(JohnWarr, Afrolatina)

Band Members