KOKOROKO - KOKOROKO VINYL EP (12")
Release Date: 8th March 2019
"This is not idle music! London has long been a hotbed for experimentation for music from West Africa, and it’s into this global-local story that we can situate London’s newest afrobeat innovators: KOKOROKO. The band’s name is an Orobo – a Nigerian tribe and language – word meaning ‘be strong’. Sonically living up to their name, KOKOROKO are an all star band featuring leading lights from the London jazz community. Powered by seismic horn section (Maurice Grey, saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi, trombonist Richie Seivewright), guitar (Oscar Jerome), keys (Yohan Kebede), drums (Ayo Salawu) and percussion (Onome Edgeworth); Kokoroko are on a mission to fashion new languages using the medium of afrobeat. Drawing as much from nightlife, the musical influences of West African Pentecostal churches, jazz and Western classical, its both in the middle of and beyond this mix of influences that KOKOROKO’s self titled EP takes shape. Adwa opens deep-ridge grooves. Drawing from the syncopated funk of Ethio-jazz, it takes its name from the Ethiopian city of the same name. Composed by keyboardist Yohan Kebede, the victorious spirit of the track is a meditation not only on the infamous Battle of Adwa, but of the way societies evolve in the aftermath of conflict. Ti-de is a soft lullaby taking its cue from a medley of old West African folk melodies. A meditation on remaining present through change, the track is laced with opiating guitar lines, soft percussion and languid vocals that feel at times interchangeable with the grand sway of the horn section. The jubilant Uman arrives as a “celebration of women, black women in particular,” shares Maurice Grey. “I wrote the tune with my mother in mind”. The track tackles the cultural trope of the ‘black superwoman’ and – similarly to Maurice-Grey’s visual artwork – asks questions about why misrepresentations about black women exist. Ultimately, it's a redemptive track that makes space for both the unique struggles black women face, and their vulnerability. Like Ti-de, Absuey Junction takes its lead from Ebo Taylor’s horn led approach, and showcases the band’s deft hand with palm wine infused ballads. The hit single, first featured on the We Out Here compilation, reached 18 million + views on YouTube. Based on a composition by guitarist Oscar Jerome, the track captures the sunset hum of Gambia’s nocturnal soundscapes, winding horn solos and haunting vocals."