Born in the city of Sekondi-Takoradi in the Western Region of Ghana, now legendary Gyedu-Blay Ambolley exploded on the music scene in 1973 with a jazzy, funky and soulful Highlife sound called simigwa-do. Today the versatile, irrepressible singer, bandleader, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, producer and "musical-life-force" has 30 music albums to his credit. Maybe he deserves another one. Very interestingly: Simigwa-do has also been mentioned for that in this song Ambolley introduced the first ever commercially recorded rap style of music in 1973, before the Sugar Hill Gang may have done this, as the Guinness Book claims.
Ambolley took his first steps as a musician in the 1960s Highlife bands in Ghana. Originally a drummer and guitarist, he turned to play bass (an instrument many musicians credit him for), before he became a prominent lead vocalist and also started playing the saxophone.
Although his classical works had been re-released presently by such renowned labels as Analog Africa or Mr Bongo, his most recent new album is Ketan released for Agogo Records, recorded in Ghana with the exceptional Sekondi Band. Ambolley formed them around 7 years ago and has since meticulously shaped and tightened the band to a next level of contemporary West African live music. It’s an exciting 9-piece band that consists of some of Ghana’s currently most talented players and instrumentalists around.
From the New World we welcome Ladama, a group of four women, virtuoso musicians, and educators – Lara Klaus, Daniela Serna, Mafer Bandola and Sara Lucas – each from a different country and culture of the Americas, who are sisters in song, rhythm and spirit. Harnessing music from their respective countries of origin - Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela and the United States, the group utilizes traditional and non-traditional instruments from across the Americas, but with a modern twist, to produce Latin Alternative music.
Reimagining South American and Caribbean styles like cumbia, maracatu, onda nueva and joropo and blending them with soul, R&B and pop, Ladama creates a new sound all their own. Together, the four shred on the bandola llanera from Venezuela, the tambor alegre from Colombia, and the pandeiro from Northeastern Brazil. With powerful vocals, often accompanied by Pat Swoboda on the bass, Ladama delivers an utterly unique musical experience. They flow from the electric to the acoustic, from Spanish to English and Portuguese, and from the high plains of Venezuela to the Colombian coast. Their art proves that borders are meaningless, transporting us to a future where the world communicates across continents and cultures, through sound and story.
In contrat, the next artist, Kalàscima embraces one region - Salento in Southern Italy. Six friends, grown up with the melodies and the hypnotic rhythms of the magical ritual of Taranta, reinvent the tradition with a wild mix of electronics and lysergic beats with original melodies and folk atmospheres.
Tarantella is based on the ancient life-threatening healing ritual called pizzica tarantata and it is related to the local cultural phenomenon called tarantism. This includes mad drumming and crazy trance-inducing dancing accompanied by suitable music which can last for hours or even days. According to a local belief, tarantism arrives after a tarantula bite. The venom of the spider takes the victim into a heightened state of excitability and restlessness which can only be healed by manic dancing.
Their live set is powerful and energic and features many traditional and fascinating instruments from Southern Italy (bagpipe, ciaramella, launeddas, tambourine, accordion), a spectacularly vast array of percussion, thrilling vocal and modern instrument (laptops and synthesizers) to create and original sound which put the audience in a state of trance.