ORLANDO JULIUS - Dance Afro-Beat - 1984
A1 - A Dara
A2 - Aye Le
A3 - Ashiko
B1 - Dance Afro-beat
B2 - Awade (here we come)
B3 - Ishe
Orlando Julius Ekemode--Know to many as O.J.--is a veteran of the modern African hi-life & afro-beat movement. he began his career during the early sixties in Nigeria, an era marked by European & western influences, the struggle for Nigerians independence,, and a national re-affirmation of African culture & identify. O.J.'s music, via his own remarkably innovative talent & artistic insight, reflects those conditions. Without foresaking African roots & rhythm he seized the time, venturing beyond tradition to create a sound uniquely his own--a synthesis of modern & old.
This bold new Afro-beat music was so enthusiastically received by the african people that O.J. quickly became one of the most influential musicians of the time. His music proved to be a creative catalyst for many nigerian recording artists. Including the internationally acclaimed Sunny Ade & Ebnezer Obe. A number of todays well known musicians--notably, nandleaders Biodum Bakare & Akin Kareem--served their Afro-beat apprenticeship with O.J.'s band.
O.J. was thirteen when he got his firdt gig as a conga player with a local KOKOMA band in his hometown of Ljebuljesha. Soon after, he played in a traditional Juju band. In 1958, he applied his talents to the trap drums for the modupe dance band in Ondo. At O.J.'s insistence, band leader Jazz Romero began teaching him the basics of saxophone playing. Romero departed a few months later, leaving the band without a leader and O.J. without a teacher.
The outcome of romero's seemingly unfortunate defection was, in fact, a turning point in O.J.'s musical destiny. He assumed leadership of the band, later to be known as "The Flamingo Dandies" & continued to teach himself saxophone playing--African style. By listening to jazz greats such as Charlie Parker & John Coltrane, he learned, by ear, to play what was to become his favorite instrument. O.J. left soon the "Flamingo Dandies" to play in his brother I.K Dairo's dance band in Ilesha. By July of 1964 he had formed his own band, "The Modern Aces". The band's first record Jagua Nana (released on the phillips label in 1965), was a hit, catapulting the relatively unknown "Modern Aces" into the limelight. Other hit singles followed, paving the way for the release in 1968 of O.J.'s long awaited album, "Super Afro Soul" on polydor label.
He & the re-named Afro Sounders cut six more albums, & these succesives releases found a receptive audience. recrod buyers in Europe & Africa alike bought well over 500,000 copies to hear the band's trademarksound--an exuberant mixture of trap, conga, & traditional talking drum rhythms, with agenerous helping of R&B & a Jazz-influenced horn lines.
In 1972, O.J. toured in Europe, includiong London, West Germany, & Italy. Then in 1974, he arrived in the United States to learn record production techniques, & most important, to spread the sounds of Afro-beat & hi-life in the U.S. He gest-starred with Hugh Masakela's band for an American tour & worked on two albums with Hugh; "The Boy's Doin It" & "Colonial Man", both released by Casablanca. O.J. wrote the song Ashiko on "The Boy's Doin It", wich is became the hit track on the album. Then O.J.'s arrangement of Lamont Dozier's "Going back to my roots" helped create a hit for the black pianist of Motown Holland-Dozier-Holland fame.
O.J. took up residence in Oakland, California in 1978 & formed his band, O.J. Ekemode & Ashiko, shortly thereafter. Despite pressure to commercialize his music, cut down the number of band members (a typical african band averages fifteen to twenty members) & generally go for mass appeal American-style. O.J. has stubbornly maintained his ethnic originality & integrity. This album is testimony to his undying love of African culture & his commitment to the creation & development of his own modern African sound.
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