11th Street, Sekondi

06/12/2019Ghanaian Legend Gyedu-Blay Ambolley Readies 31st Album

From DJ Katapila and Alogte Oho to the legend himself, Gyedu-Blay Ambolley... We return to Ghana to cover the recently released 31st (yes, that is correct) album by the now 72-year-old renowned saxophonist, singer, guitarist and "originator of rap" Gyedu-Blay Ambolley; his second on Agogo Records. The album title, "11th Street, Sekondi", is a nod to the place he was born and that first home of his is actually pictured on the album cover. Blending Ghanaian highlife with various genres, including rap, Afro-funk and disco, the charismatic Ambolley proudly tips his hat to his rich heritage and trademark "Simigwa" style:

"Highlife, which started in Sierra Leone and Liberia, took hold in Ghana in the 1940s as a coming together of the musicians fed up with the foxtrot and quickstep parties originally hosted by English colonists. It began with big band horns and happy lyrics, popularised by artists such as E.T Mensah, before opening up in the ‘50s and ‘60s with a wave of guitar-driven, socially conscious and more danceable Afro-funk hits - a product of the easy movement of people between Nigeria and Ghana," the album description reads. Which was about the time Ambolley made his first musical moves.

The rest is history, but includes resounding names the likes of Ebo Taylor and Fela Kuti, Tricky Johnson’s Sextet, Sammey Lartey's Railways band, the Stargazers and the Uhuru Dance Band. On "11th Street, Sekondi" Ambolley takes an entertaining and instantly engaging look back at his accolade-filled life as well as "the areas and musical styles that shaped [him]," while also reflecting "the misguided pursuit of European ideals ahead of African values." You can stream the full release below.

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom