The Kusun Ensemble

The Kusun Ensemble

BandWorldJazz

Tradititional West African music and dance blended with jazz influenced guitar and melodies to create an electrifying new Ghanaian sound, dubbed "Nokoko!"

Biography

The Kusun Ensemble is an extraordinary ensemble of musicians and dancers based in Ghana, West Africa. Founded by Nii Tettey Tetteh, the group includes past and present members of The National Ballet and The Pan African Orchestra. Although rooted in traditional music, the group has developed a new brand of music and dance they have dubbed "Nokoko." They have created innovative rhythms and dances by fusing bass and lead guitar with traditional Ghanaian instruments to produce an electrifying blend of jazz and African music. On a mission to share this new style of Ghanaian music, the ensemble has been dazzling audiences in Ghana and around the world.

With headlines reading "Kusun Electrifies Frenzied Audience" and reviews proclaiming the Kusun Ensemble's sound as a "revival of a vital art," the band is now considered one of Ghana's most innovative and powerful music and dance ensembles. By blending the authentic sounds of traditional instruments with the exuberance of hilife music and the complexity of African jazz, they are developing a unique Ghanaian sound and bringing the tropical passion of West African music and dance to the world stage.

The Kusun Ensemble toured the U.S.A in 2002, packing theatres and wowing festival audiences in the Eastern U.S. They have performed throughout Ghana and toured Australia in 2000. Many of the members have also been teaching drumming and dance at the Kusun Study Center in Nungua, Accra. This center was built by Nii Tettey Tetteh to promote the traditional arts of Ghana, to teach both local people and international students about Ghanaian music and culture.

Lyrics

Ga Highlife

Written By: Oboubi Ashong

LINER NOTE: Highlife is a popular dance music in Ghana. It is constantly changing over time and musicians are always creating different styles of highlife.Today we have what we call hip highlife. In 1970 Nii Tel Ashitey and Nii Adu Ofull Quaye (Big Boy) brought together another style of highlife called Ga highlife. This new version of highlife incorporates traditional instruments like the Kpanlogo and Gome drums, Bells and Shakers with lead and bass guitar. Most of the songs are written in Ga. This piece was written by our lead guitarist. It has the feeling of Ga highlife but adds different instruments like the Gourd and Kashishi.

JAH

Written By: Nii Tettey Tetteh

DESCRIPTION: gospel fusion

I wrote JAH because I wanted to do a gospel song using traditional instruments. It is very difficult to use our traditional instruments in the church here in Ghana because they are considered to be voodoo. A pastor came to the studio to book his church band and he listened to us recording this song. He was amazed at what the traditional instruments could do, he told me that our music was very strong and it moved his soul.

Discography


Omanye - 2001 CD

Nokoko - 2002 CD

Live at The Kennedy Center - 2003 RealPlayer Video
http://www.kennedy-center.org/programs/millennium/artist_detail.cfm?artist_id=KUSUNENSEM

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Set List

Performances:

On stage, The Kusun Ensemble will show the audience songs and dances that speak about daily life in West Africa in particular. They will see how the drums are used to communicate from one village to the next. The Chief of a tribe uses certain drums to send messages to the people informing them of festivals, deaths, births and announcements of all kinds.

In their dances you will see how men and women show their appreciation for the harvest times, social dances for wealth and prosperity, and in Fume Fume when a member of the tribe is working to prove him/her self spiritually through trials and tasks set for him by a teacher.

Nii Tettey Tetteh is a consummate showman, composer and choreographer, and has put together a powerful troop to show us African culture through performance. He intersperses valuable information and often a sweet sense of humor throughout their show, adding even greater depth to the experience.

Residencies/Workshops/ Master Cl