Kusun Ensemble

Kusun Ensemble

BandWorldJazz

Kusun Ensemble is an extraordinary group of musicians and dancers from West Africa. Founded by Nii Tettey Tetteh, the ensemble have created innovative rhythms and dances by fusing bass and lead guitar with traditional Ghanaian instruments to produce an electrifying blend of jazz and Africa music.

Biography

Nii Tettey Tetteh, the founder of Kusun Ensemble is one of the world's best Kashaka (or Aslatua) players.

He is an internationally acclaimed musician, educator and artistic director. From Southern Ghana, his father was a fisherman, and his family the hereditary keeper of his village's royal drums. He has kept up this family tradition all of his life by struggling to maintain and nurture the traditional instruments, music and rhythms of West Africa. He teaches and performs all over the world, most often touring with his extraordinary band The Kusun Ensemble. The group showcases Tetteh's unique versions of traditional African music with exciting dancers performing excellent renditions of traditional dances.

Not only has Nii Tettey Tetteh mastered how to play 2 Kashakas at once, he plays different rhythms in each hand, creating beautiful and complex polyrhythms. He uses them in public performances, and wherever he travels, and has inspired thousands of people to lean to play this rare instrument.

He and his band are from the Ga people, and in their language, a "Kashaka" is the word for a snuff container. About 100 years ago, adults used the small goard like seed pod to hold their snuff. Young people who weren't interested in tobacco used the gourds for a better purpose, by putting stones in them instead and tying them together with string to make a musical toy. Many Ghanaians now enjoy using Kashakas to make basic rhythms.

Discography

NOKOKO ...the most recent CD from Nii Tettey Tetteh & The Kusun Ensemble takes the group on a new journey of sound.

Nii Tettey Tetteh explains: "Nokoko is a Ga word meaning 'something, something.' By blending our typical traditional Ghanaian rhythms with subtle jazz rhythms, this took me to a different world that I haven't been to before. I looked around and said, 'This is Nokoko!"

Composed and arranged by Nii Tettey Tetteh,"NOKOKO" is a dramatic fusion of electrifying jazz, African and traditional rhythms that has resulted in the production of authentic sounds and rhythms.

NOKOKO also combines the exuberance of highlife with the complexity of African jazz to create music that exposes the capabilities of loud African drums. Indeed, the CD exposes the ability of indigenous instruments in the playing soft and slow moving tunes.

The eleven track CD which has lyrics in a number of Ghanaian languages boasts of a new version of highlife that incorporates traditional instruments like Bells, Shakers, "Kpanlogo" and "Gome" drums with lead and bass guitars.

OMANYE ...one for the lovers of drums and those infectious African rhythms. This CD definitely does not disappoint. Nii Tettey Tetteh is one of the most talented African musicians to have performed and recorded on these shores. I received the CD "Omanye", recorded with the band "The Kusun Ensemble" a few months back now, and was waiting for the opportunity to feature it here. Part of the CD was recorded in Ghana, and it features well known Australian percussionist Ray Pereira.

The CD displays the complex polyrhythms West African music is renowned for. Missing is the influence of Western pop, but I am sure that people who insist on the purity of traditional music will not complain. The well executed rhythms, produced by a variety of percussive instruments, are complimented by traditional vocal harmonies.

Nii Tettey Tetteh has been trying for some time now to establish a school for traditional music in dance in Ghana, but found it difficult to obtain either corporate financial backing or even government funding. With other musicians he worked in night clubs in Ghana, Togo and Benin, and organised tours to the UK and Australia to try and realise this dream. After organising a study tour to Ghana from Australia recently, the Kusun School finally began to take shape. The Kusun Ensemble performing on this CD is the group he put together to teach and perform for the school.

The CD therefore brings together quite a number of very talented artists. Featured on the recording are Yaw Asumadu, Nii Afotey, Tuza, Ataa Ado, Larkotey Oscar, Kwakye, Ayie, Anim ,Sister, Adei and Love.

- Reviewed by Christo van Rensburg © 2003 all rights reserved

Soon to be officially released in 2009 "SEA BOY". Stay tuned!

Set List

Set list includes songs from the Nokoko and Omanye Albums intersperced with traditional dances from Ghana and many other countries in Africa.
Concerts are normaly 2, 45 - 60 min. sets.
Shorter performances can be arranged.