The smooth world jazz group Native Vibe consists of bassist Nee Sackey and guitarist Bill Macpherson, a duo brought together by a series of unusual coincidences and a love of African and jazz music.
Both Sackey and Macpherson were born in the U.S. -- Sackey in New York, Macpherson in Los Angeles -- and moved to Africa with their families at a young age. The son of Ghana's ambassador to the United States, Sackey was a child prodigy, composing and performing music at 11. Macpherson arrived in Africa at age eight, and though he didn't pursue music until he was an adult, growing up surrounded by African music and rhythms planted the seeds of his love of music and his future career.
Sackey started his college studies as an electrical engineering major but during his junior year at Brigham Young University, he transferred to the Berklee College of Music. Similarly, Macpherson studied different disciplines, including English and anthropology, before realizing that jazz music was what he should study. He also applied to Berklee, eventually graduating magna cum laude.
After playing in various jazz bands around Connecticut, Sackey moved to San Diego, where through playing with mutual friends he finally met Macpherson, known in the scene as an innovative guitarist with a unique blend of African and jazz influences. Sackey and Macpherson began playing together, in other people's bands and on their own, while also pursuing solo careers; Macpherson's Jungle Party came out in 1992, while Sackey's My Father's Son, My Brother's Brother was released in 1994.
Realizing that joining forces would increase their chances for success, the duo formed Native Vibe in 1995 and released their debut, Medicinal Purposes, the following year. The album featured their unique blend of sleek jazz and tribal rhythms, and was produced by the Yellowjackets' Jimmy Haslip, as was the 1999 follow-up Spirits. ~ Heather Phares