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Susuma

18/03/2022Berlin's Multi-cultural Afro-Soul Seven-Piece Jembaa Groove Releases Tight-Knit Debut Full-Length On Agogo

Cohesion is commonly defined as the act or fact of sticking together tightly forming a whole and it is a word that comes to mind, when listening to the brand-new album by Berlin-based multi-cultural afro-soul outfit Jembaa Groove. Founded by German bassist, composer and producer Yannick Nolting alongside Ghanaian singer, songwriter and percussionist Eric Owusu at the tail end of 2020, the project eventually evolved into a versatile seven-piece bridging different cultural backgrounds yet sharing a common musical language and vision. Their debut full-length "Susuma" is now out on Agogo Records and it, too, is nothing short of a unifying experience.

The term 'jembaa' stands for 'life', as the band channels vital positive energy and good vibes to grooving effect. Heavily influenced by '60s and '70s soul music, while drawing on traditional West African sounds from Ghana and Mali such as Highlife, Adowa and Wassoulou and fusing these with contemporary, jazzy elements from the Berlin underground scene, Jembaa Groove serves up a harmonious offering of warmhearted grooves and dynamic polyrhythms that has instant appeal. Meanwhile, Eric Owusu leads the way with equally fervent vocals in Ga, Twi, Hausa and Pidgin English, skills honed while touring with legendary artist such as Pat Thomas, Ebo Taylor and Richard Bona.

"Susuma" consists of nine tracks, all composed, arranged and produced by Yannick Nolting, including the previously released singles "Bassa Bassa", "Amale" and "Mokole". Nolting and Owusu are joined by some of Berlin's finest, i.e. Benin's Tunde Alibaba (Lionel Loueke, Alessia Cara, Anewal) on vocals and guitar, Israel's Merav Goldman aka Meravi on French horn, Portugal's Goncalo Mortagua (Alice Phoebe Lou) on tenor saxophone, German-Ghanaian keyboard player Moses Yoofee Vester (Wanubalé, Footprint Project) and Israel's Nir Sabag (J.Lamotta, Move78) on drums, each adding their own instrumental wizardry to the dense sonic tapestry, resulting in a coherent, cohesive and very much enjoyable whole.

You can stream/buy the full album on Bandcamp and watch an exclusive "Bassa Bassa" live session below. Jembaa Groove will be performing live at Berlin's Gretchen club on March 27th. Tickets available here.

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom