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Appia Kwa Bridge

Ebo Taylor

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iTunes Review

Gifted guitarist/bandleader Ebo Taylor was arguably the single most influential figure in the flourishing Ghanaian pop scene of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Though his nimble guitar style was derived from the work of highlife guitarists like E.T. Mensah and E.K. Nyame, Taylor’s music featured a slew of unexpected influences. His recordings with outfits like The Apagya Show Band and The Stargazers were notable for their massed horns and sinuous, funk-inflected polyrhythms. Despite Taylor’s prominence in his home country, none of his music was distributed internationally until 2010, when he recorded the stunning Love and Death for the British imprint Strut. Appia Kwa Bridge is the follow-up to that remarkable album. It finds Taylor dividing his efforts between contemplative solo guitar cuts and big band workouts that harness Afrobeat's chugging rhythms to remarkable effect. Taylor’s lilting, unaccompanied forays into highlife provide some of this album's best moments, particularly on the tender “Barrima," a sensitively performed tribute to his departed wife.

Customer Reviews

Unusual emotional depth and resonance--AMG

Unlike pop songs based on the Europe-derived rules of tonal music, Afro-beat doesn't typically move in a deliberate way from one place to another and then home again in a reasonably prescribed pattern of tension and release. Instead, it generally stays in a single place and dances there until it gets tired -- which can take anywhere from eight to 30 minutes. Nigerian legend Fela Kuti was the universally acknowledged Mozart of this approach: he would build a fearsome groove out of highly repetitive and mostly static harmonic materials, and then use it as an extended showcase for instrumental solos, wild dancing, and eye-poppingly bold political rants. Guitarist and songwriter Ebo Taylor, hailing from nearby Ghana, comes from the highlife tradition, which shares with Afro-beat a tendency toward funky, densely arranged, and harmonically static songs, but is also generally a bit lighter in terms of both groove and message. Recording here with the Berlin-based Afrobeat Academy band, Taylor gets deeper into his musical roots than he has on previous releases, creating a powerful set of songs that sound as if they could have been recorded in 1974: on tracks like "Abonsam," the highlife standard "Yaa Amponsah," and the effortlessly groovy title track, Taylor revives the old-school sounds with an energy and joy that belie his age. And on the album-closing "Barrima," he pays sweet tribute to his late wife with a stripped-down vocal-and-guitar composition that will break your heart. It all adds up to an album of unusual emotional depth and resonance. -Rick Anderson

Biography

Born: 1936 in GHANA

Genre: World

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Born in 1936, guitarist, composer, arranger, bandleader, and producer Ebo Taylor has been a vital figure on the Ghanaian music scene for over six decades. In the late '50s he was active in the influential highlife bands the Stargazers and the Broadway Dance Band, and in 1962 he took his own group, the Black Star Highlife Band, to London, which led to collaborations with Fela Kuti and other African musicians in Britain at the time. Returning to Ghana, he worked as a producer, crafting recordings for...
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Appia Kwa Bridge, Ebo Taylor
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