Event Review: Jazz Attitude-Not A Bad Attitude
Jazz Attitude iii
Mzee Ngala, Nairobi Horns Project,
J-Gogo + Gogosimo, YellowLightMachine, Taraji
The Alchemist, Nairobi
October 22, 2017
That crowd; jovial, attentive and good looking, must have experienced something of both historic and futuristic preeminence at The Alchemist last evening. Rather late from the art galleries because Nairobi is literally popping like an uncovered pot of pop corn, i only got to relish performances after Taraji and Yellow Light Machine.
A feverish anticipation occupied the interludes between performances as drinks and food bonded the audience through banter and laughter.
Following an eager introduction from Eddie Grey, Nairobi Horns Project took the stage tearing into space like a motown brass section. Hoola hoops, euphoric kids and happy people gathered around the stage as Amani Baya made the call with a rambling solo. At this point, i momentarily zoned-out into time when drums spoke clearer than smoke.
Anyhu, after a sweaty rollercoster through American favorites like No Digitty to Mpongo Love’s Ndaya, the band went on a funky nostalgic interpretation of some of the best Kenyan pop classics from Ogopa Djs. It was a real dunda that eventually paved way for James Gogo (i think J-Gogo sounds cooler) and the Gogosimo band who took it straight to the Kenyan coast.
Cuddling one of the only three keytars known to be in Kenya currently (find out who owns the other two), J-Gogo led the band and the congregation to new heights awaiting the King and creator of Bango Music. “Moja, mbili, tatu, nne, tano, sita, saba, naneee…tisa-kumi-Gogosimoooo”, went the chorus into a frenzied rendition and choreography of Nyataquance–BOSS!
After a delightful cameo by Juma Tutu-yet another Mijikenda maestro, it was finally time to set sail out of the Kenyan coast further back into history and the cultural opulence of the East African coastal communities and the Indian Ocean Islands through the revered captainship of Mzee Ngala.
Born in 1920s, Mzee Ngala was calm in a white formal shirt and a crown of white fedora. He embraced a rustic alto saxophone and graciously walked towards the screaming crowd. Backed by J-Gogo and Gogosimo, centuries of wisdom and wit filled the open air space in glorious melodies born and matured by a man who has seen Kenya become through triumphs and tragedies.
At the end of the day, walking home in a warm Nairobi night at 10pm, i wondered how aligned the stars must have been for the event organizers. The spontaneous Nairobi rains had given way to a perfect evening to celebrate our past and future SHUJAAZ.