Tuesday, 29 August 2017

WOMEX 2017

Katowice, Poland*
Zaynnah Magazine is very pleased to be a WOMEX media partner once again! This year’s (WOMEX 17), will take place in Katowice, Southern Poland.

According to the Expo organisers…WOMEX continues its journey of covering the entire scope of European regions, signifying and actively promoting solidarity and unity of Europe through its locations and of all countries of the world through its programme.*

“We are delighted to bring WOMEX into this European region and find new friends there. We believe WOMEX will once again add its part to a positive movement over there: The city of Katowice is an upcoming creative location, recently undergoing a post-industrial flowering where the city becomes a green, cultural hub.” says Alexander Walter, WOMEX Director.*

With its newly opened Cultural Zone, as well as the concert hall – the NOSPR (which will be a main location for WOMEX 17), Katowice is the only Central European city that has been designated a UNESCO City of Music.

World Music Expo 2017 (WOMEX 17)
25-29 October 2017
Katowice, Southern Poland

*quotes & image :http:www.womex.com/location

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Another successful year at Méra!

Over 3000 festival goers converged in Méra for the second World Music Festival last month. Bands from a range of countries which included Italy, Mexico and the USA, performed at this most unique of festivals.

According to the festival organisers "The aim of Méra World Music Festival was to present the Kalotaszeg Region to the world, and to bring people from all over the world to Kalotaszeg. This is why we organized a series of unique and varied events, and the fine work of the KOOHO architects created again a very special atmosphere. During the second edition of the festival we also introduced selective waste collection and made sure that our ecological footprint was as small as possible. This year we opened the doors of the Buffalo Museum, and on Saturday we held our first farmers’ market there!
Apart from the varied musical offer we also launched events and activities for children and grown-ups and our photo exhibition focused on the rich musical tradition of the region and the many traditional tools and objects. The movie screenings and talks which followed, were a good starting point for dialogue on the role of traditions in today’s world.  This year Méra hosted the First Fiddler’s Competition with the support of Hagyományok Háza (Hungarian Heritage House) and Hagyományok Háza Hálózat – Erdély (Hungarian Heritage House Network– Transylvania) with the participation of nine contestants. The prize for the best fiddler went to Ádám Kiss Balbinát, who has also received the Junior Prima Award..."

Méra World Music Festival 2017 was supported by the Hungarian Heritage House and the Hungarian Heritage House Network-Transylvania. The main supporting institutions were the National Cultural Fund of Hungary, Administration of the National Cultural Fund of Romania, the Bethlen Gábor Fund and the Mayor’s Office of Baciu.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Africa Centre Summer Festival 2017

The Africa Centre's Summer Festival will hold on Saturday 19th August at 66 Great Suffolk Street, London SE1 0BL.

Included in the line-up are Afrikan Boy, Dee Ajayi, and Seeds of Creation.

Admission is free

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

zaynnah conversation...with 'Princes of Nigeria'

image: Markus Grundström
Princes of Nigeria is a band from Finland who play fusion sounds with hints of Afrobeat, funk and much more. As the band prepares to release its new single V-City Beat on August 11, we are pleased to have been able to put some questions to two of the band members - Jarmo Lundgren (guitar) and Aino Laine (vocals).

What is the best way to describe the music that you play?

AL   Easy to dance Afro-bossafunk with a Finnish twist! We also have a rap song, so we do not really stick with predetermined genres. We let the song we're working on lead the way. To make it simple, if the song is better with some bossanova or rap, so be it! 

JL  "Afro-bossafunk" might actually nail it. The songs are based on jams, and we don't want to force the material too much into any direction. The "afro" part refers both to Afrobeat and Afrofunk, and there's certainly a good dose of Brazilian influences as well - especially Bossanova. Lately we've also adopted some Caribbean funk influences à la 'The Beginning of the End' or Anthony Joseph & The Spasm Band.

You have songs called "Chikito from Makoko" and "Mugu Chase" - how do you keep up-to-date with Nigerian urban culture and terminology?

AL   We do our homework using the internet and YouTube. It helps a lot if one is genuinely interested in different cultures and cultural exchange.

JL   I have this endless fascination in Nigerian Pidgin. I think it started when I read Michael Veal's biography of Fela Kuti. He (Michael Veal), had meticulously translated Fela's song lyrics into standard English - and he explained all the Nigerian proverbs in the texts and so on. It was revealing! And for me it took Fela's music to another level. Nowadays I constantly dig up interesting words and sayings from online dictionaries, then end up checking out what the sayings related to. Some end up into song names too.  It's worth noting though, that that our lyrics cover other topics as well. We're not on some single-minded cultural appropriation mission to wrench out all the Nigerian influences we can get our hands on. For example, the upcoming single V-City Beat is dedicated to the suburb of Varissuo in our home town of Turku. But whether the song is based in Finland, Russia or Nigeria, we try to make the stories so universal that you can identify with the characters no matter where you live yourself.

Is there a message that you seek to convey through your music?

AL   Perhaps the key message is to dance, have fun and celebrate life...always remembering that people are people regardless of cultural, socio-economical, or geographical aspects. When you look behind the cultural differences, you find that there is a lot more that unites us than separates us. It's an important message in these times, when people are seeking asylum on different continents...with living conditions and prospects of a life worth living at home being made almost impossible by international or local politics and by environmental factors. Our stories and the people in them are handled with compassion and also warm humour!

If you could choose one location in the world to perform at, where would that be?

JL   New Afrika Shrine in Ikeja, Nigeria! 

What does the rest of the year hold for 'Princes of Nigeria'?

JL:  More gigs and more singles! We're currently planning the video for our next single V-City Beat. The song will be available on the digital music platforms (Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, etc) on 11th of August. The video will come out a bit later. After that, the next single is called I Oppressed People , which is a song about police brutality around the world - this time from the point of view of the police. It will come out later in the Autumn. We've been planning a video for that too. We also hope that we'll get our first gig in Helsinki in the Autumn. So far we've had gigs in Turku and Tampere. Everything's still in early stages, really (smile).

Chikito (live)
by Princes of Nigeria

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Ngozi Fidelis Chinwah - a personal tribute

Mr Chinwah at Christmas with Zaynnah 2011
Very seldom do I write a post in the first person on Zaynnah Magazine - however as I write about Mr Ngozi Chinwah, I really have no option than to write from that perspective.

I met Mr Chinwah personally in October 1986 and was soon made to feel very welcome as an "alto" in his choir, 'Festival Chorus'. Before then, I had heard the name mentioned by a few acquaintances.

With his warm and reassuring manner, and his kind eyes, Mr Chinwah seemed to smile from the heart. When he smiled, or even laughed, it felt as though both the smile and laughter came from his soul - it was infectious and you knew that there were no hidden or ulterior motives. Mr Chinwah was a clear and unassuming man. He could be stubborn - if he felt justified about a point or principle, he would listen to any possible alternative views, and he could definitely hold his own if he felt strongly about something.

When I organised Christmas with Zaynnah! in 2010 and 2011 respectively, I could think of no other person to be my musical director on the project than Mr Ngozi Chinwah himself. As I planned the inaugural event, I met him in his study at the University of Lagos. Mr Chinwah first expressed surprise that I would think of working with him on the project..."Why would you come all the way to Unilag to ask me to join you Feyi?" He asked - "There are so many other pianists in this Lagos!" And then once he got over my response...which he listened to with apparent embarrassment (Mr Chinwah was also very shy), he physically winced as he heard me say that I really couldn't imagine myself working with any other pianist or musician on this project, either in Nigeria or anywhere else for that matter. This was because Christmas with Zaynnah! was a project that I almost spontaneously decided to embark on. It was non-profit making and wholly philanthropic - the aim was to encourage and showcase emerging local creative talent, and at the same time the aim was to spread some Christmas goodwill and cheer to the wider community. I knew that Mr Chinwah would get that...

Mr Chinwah and me
Mr Chinwah was also very shy about playing a solo piano piece at Christmas with Zaynnah!..."Feyi, what you don't know is that now-a-days as I'm getting older I'm not playing the piano as I used to..." He once said to me laughing. We both laughed at this - and when we had finished laughing, I persevered with my request for him to play a solo piece in addition to accompanying singers at both events. I was most grateful and delighted that he eventually granted my request.

Mr Chinwah was an accomplished pianist and a lecturer at the University of Lagos. He wasn't showy and was most definitely not loud about his achievements. He had returned to Nigeria from the United States of America some years before and had brought his car back with him - a black Mustang which didn't seem to do too well on some of the bumpy Lagos roads. Mr Chinwah also returned to Nigeria with a black and white photograph of a young lady whom he had met when he was a student in the US. He kept that photograph on his desk in his study - I'm not sure who she was, but she clearly meant alot to him since her picture was given a prominent place in the room. Strewn all over the office were various music books and music sheets - on his desk, on his bookcase and some had made their way to the top of his piano, where a bust of a classical composer rested. He told me who the composer was, but I don't recall the name now - it was not Chopin, or Liszt, or Bach; it was not even G. F. Handel, one of Chinwah's favourite composers. Whoever it was, it took pride of place on the piano...keeping watch over the maestro's study.

Ngozi Chinwah was one of the greatest African and Africa-based classical pianists of his time. This would have been apparent to those who were fortunate to meet him or to work with him. However, in today's society where humility, simplicity and professionalism are often overlooked for the brash, the mediocre and boisterous, it is sad that Mr Chinwah did not get the level of national recognition that he so richly deserved.

On one of my visits to his study, I noticed that there was a box with some business cards on his desk ..."May I take one?" I asked, to which he smiled and shrugged his shoulders; he then nodded - giving me permission - so I took a card - it read...'Ngozi F Chinwah BSc Northeastern, M Mus Boston Conservatory, Visiting Fellow, Harvard'.

Ngozi Fidelis Chinwah
January 1948 - July 2017

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Mera World Music Festival 2017

Zaynnah Magazine is pleased to be a media partner of Mera World Music Festival for the second year running.

This year's festival focuses on the Carpathian Region, and bands from all over Europe and America have been invited to participate.

According to the festival organisers "Méra World Music is the world music festival of Transylvania. The Festival’s main objective is to put local values in a global context and focus on the Kalotaszeg region’s rich musical traditions while bringing the best world music bands to the festival’s barn-stage. This year we are welcoming on our barn stage the Romanian brass band Fanfara Transilvania, Muzsikas, and the Prímás Parade from Hungary. The Prímás Parade features the most famous performers of the genre: the singers Ágnes Herczku and Éva Korpas, the violin virtuoso, Istvan Pal Szalonna, one of the best cimbalom players, Balogh Kalman, and excellent musicians such as Peter Bede (sax), Miklos Both (guitar), Tamas Gombai (violin), Robert Door (double-bass), Laszlo Mester (viola) and the 'concertmaster' Lakatos Robert. The Festival hosts the second meetup of Kalotaszeg musicians, offering a unique experience for professionals and for all who are interested in Kalotaszeg’s musical tradition. Brigan from Italy and Beltaine from Poland will bring us Celtic melodies. The Guajiro Calentano from Mexico will play Caribbean rhythms, and The Resonant Rogues from the US will mix gypsy swing with early New Orleans jazz and Appalachian old-time melodies."

Mera World Music Festival
27th to 30th July, 2017
Mera (in Cluj County, Romania)

Saturday, 24 June 2017

remembering Ambrose Campbell...

Thursday 22 June, 2017 marked the eleventh anniversary of the passing of the jazz/highlife musician Ambrose Campbell. This is an extract from an article I wrote for Debate & Review in 2009.

…I remember one who deserves to be acknowledged as a pioneer in his own right.

It was on an over-cast but warm summer’s evening in 2006 – two weeks after his death – that I discovered Ambrose Campbell. I regretted the fact that I had just missed the musician…just when I had found him!

If only he was still alive - I thought, I would make contact by any means possible and do all I could to showcase him.

I would ensure that the present generation of Nigerians, especially Nigerians in the UK, got to know about his contribution to the musical landscape of the London jazz scene. I would also strive to ensure that in his twilight years, the maestro would enjoy fame once again, this time, amongst “his own”.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I read the various online tributes and comments that had been written about this man. Perhaps because of his apparently unassuming nature and humility, Ambrose Campbell remains in a sense, an unsung musical hero – even among Nigerians.

Oladipupo ‘Ambrose’ Adekoya Campbell was born in Lagos, Nigeria on 19 August, 1919. He was the son of a church minister and started out by singing in the church choir. In his teens, Campbell worked as a printer in central Lagos. He would also often play the tambourine with some of his friends at the home of Herbert Macaulay.

Campbell left Nigeria to arrive in Liverpool in the throes of World War II in the early 1940s. He subsequently moved to London where he assembled a band in response to taunts from some of the “local” Londoners who didn’t quite appreciate the arrival to the west-end of the African and his cohorts.

Campbell and his friends performed at Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus during the VE Day celebrations when World War II ended; he appeared on British television; co-founded the West African Rhythm Brothers (WARB); and his band accompanied Britain’s first black ballet company Les Ballets Nègres.

Ambrose Campbell and his band played in the jazz venues of London’s west-end, including a club called Abalabi on Berwick Street in Soho, which was owned by a fellow Nigerian, Ola Dosunmu. Dosunmu and his English wife, later opened another club on Wardour Street called Club Afrique – the WARB performed there too.

Ambrose Oladipupo Campbell was a celebrated figure in bohemian Soho, and his friends and contemporaries included British jazz greats Ronnie Scott and Johnny Dankworth.

Campbell moved to America in 1972 where he continued to be involved in music. He performed on Willie Nelson’s One for the Road, and received a gold disc for his recording. Ambrose Campbell returned to the UK in 2004, settled in Plymouth, and died on June 22, 2006 at the age of 86.

When Campbell died, several obituaries were written in British newspapers. The obituary in The Times opened with the following words: Ambrose Campbell – Nigerian-born musician whose relaxed African rhythms and harmonies made a stir in drab postwar Britain.

That tribute went on to state that Campbell led what may well have been the first band of British-based black musicians.

He formed his band several years before the Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury from the Caribbean, two decades before the first Notting Hill carnival and more than 40 years before the term “world music” was invented.

An article in the Observer, written a few months before his death, was more explicit and stated that Campbell was "the founder of Britain’s first Black band!"

Ambrose Oladipupo Campbell 
(1919 - 2006)