World music star Taylor has his history with Highlife, Afrobeat Academy and Fela Kuti
In what will be his Scottish debut, legendary Ghanaian bandleader Ebo Taylor brings his nine-piece band to the Art School for an unmissable night of West African music. A spry and charismatic 79-year-old, Taylor has been touring and recording with Berlin-based Afrobeat Academy for the past few years, releasing two excellent new albums in the process: 2010’s Love and Death, and 2012’s Appia Kwa Bridge. This resurgence has been fuelled by the rediscovery of Taylor’s music via re-issues and the sampling of his song ‘Heaven’ on Usher’s R&B hit ‘She Don’t Know’.
Performing since the 1950s, Taylor was a member of major Highlife bands the Stargazers and Broadway Dance Band, before forming his own group, Black Star Highlife Band. In 1962, Taylor moved to London to study music, where he befriended a number of influential African musicians, including the great Fela Kuti. Taylor credits Kuti with giving him the confidence to return to Ghana and create his own African music, rather than imitate American jazz.
While his music has plenty of American jazz, pop and funk in its DNA, it’s unmistakably African, connecting the music of the diaspora to its roots and projecting it forward. Characterised by deep rolling grooves, infectious horn riffs and vocal melodies which draw on Fante war chants and folk songs, Taylor’s music is some of the finest from 1970s Africa.
Support here comes from contemporary Ghanaian star King Ayisoba, who reduced Glasgow’s Platform to a sweaty, dancing mass back in April. Singing, chanting and braying over the insistent riffs and percussive rhythms of his kologo, Ayisoba is an electrifying performer, charging traditional influences with the vitality of modern hiplife. The bill is rounded off with a set from local DJ collective Ghana Soundz.
The Art School, Glasgow, Fri 10 Oct.