Yannick Nolting (bass, composer, producer) and Eric Owusu (vocals, percussion, songwriter) have come together as Jembaa Groove to make a wonderful album full of warm, sinuous West African grooves and a deep-rooted soulfulness that really hits the spot.
Eric has been recording and touring with the venerable likes of Ebo Taylor and Pat Thomas, and that experience certainly shows: there’s a relaxed, feel-good vibe generated from the seven-piece band they’ve put together, that exudes peace and positivity. This is global fusion with a high sheen, feeding from the past and looking to the future, and its chock full of brilliance.
Mokole, for example, sits tight on a rolling mid-tempo groove, Owusu’s intimate vocal performance underpinned by a seriously boogie-back bassline, great horn figures, sweet Rhodes splashes – all stirred up into an irresistible dance-floor warmer. If you’re in need of something to entice people onto the floor, look no further: this stuff is guaranteed to slay it every time.
Recent single, Amale, ups the BPMs but keeps the soul: melodies tumble, the bass high in the mix, sparkling guitar work spars with the horns: these guys know where it’s at for sure. Two minutes in and those horns float off into an extended work out: dropping back to the groove when the vocals re-enter – quietly devastating, and again hand-tooled for any dance-floor worth its salt.
There’s nine cuts in total and they’re all equally unmissable. Opener, Aawoya, is an achingly beautiful introduction – slow and low and beckoning you in – whispering of the delights to be found within. Adesane is another slower jam, just as delightful: stately, moving, sonorous – Owusu’s spine-tingling voice wrapped up in aural cotton wool. These two have been on repeat recently in our casa: so good.
Bassa Bassa heads back to the party, ‘wake up make you dance…make you want to Bassa Bassa’ they say and they’re absolutely right of course: undeniably powerful, brass pumping out the good groove, beats rolling, rolling, rolling into a lovely keys drop three minutes in – this is a band firing on all cylinders, confident and cruising.
The production is great too, the warmth and the generosity of the musicians captured perfectly, the individuals coming together as a perfectly-formed whole: the communal spirit laid out for all to witness. Come together is the rallying cry – come together and celebrate life, celebrate music, celebrate the dance – Jembaa Groove have you covered.
Jembaa Groove`s Susuma will be released on March 18th, on Agogo Records.