Music of Thursday, 13 March 2008
The audience laughed and then applauded as bassist Nee Sackey introduced guitarist Bill Macpherson, his colleague in the Native Vibe band, as “a long-time partner in crime.”
The two have played together for 15 years and if gelling so well with their jazz fusion style is a ‘crime’, then the pleasant audience at the Accra Polo Club last Friday didn’t mind more ‘crimes’ being committed by the pair and the five other ‘accomplices’ on the stage that evening.
The Polo Club concert was the only one played by the United States-based group and percussionist Vinx on their visit to Ghana for the Jazz Society of Ghana and Nook Entertainment Limited-organised Independence Jazzfest 2008 proggramme.
A scheduled appearance at the Africa Regent hotel the previous day was rained off.
Used as one of the fun parks during the 26th MTN Cup of Africa Nations (CAN) Ghana 2008, the spacious grounds of the Polo Club is turning out to be a congenial venue for outdoor events.
The audience felt free to sit, stand or walk around whilst the live music flowed. Food and drinks served from the El Gaucho restaurant on the premises lent a picnic atmosphere to the occasion.
It was a night of original music as Atongo and Gyedu Blay-Ambolley opened proceedings with their distinctive styles. Native Vibe played exuberant material from their old and recent collections.
The group defies categorisation because it cleverly merges several different approaches to popular music, though the underlying force is undeniably jazz.
It was the group’s third visit to Ghana and they have obviously generated some amount of following here.
Clear in their playing, however, is how they also seem to have closely scrutinised the music of 1970s jazz fusion greats like Herbie Hancock, Return To Foever, Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Chick Corea and Tony Williams.
Nee Sackey slapped, picked and thumbed his six-string bass guitar and Macpherson’s piercing solos occasional evoked memories of Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana. Percussionist Marcel Adjibi added a real world music flavour to the sound with his array of ‘toys’ whilst keyboardist Kevin Flournoy and drummer Danny Campbell constantly laid down abundant textures for all to soar.
Vinx joined in with his rig of modern-age percussion together with Ghanaian saxophonist Steve Mensah.
The seven men collectively gave all something thrilling to remember about the nation’s 51st independence anniversary celebrations.
The President of the Jazz Society, Dr Sam Mensah, had earlier spoken about the activities of the outfit and the attention they are paying to jazz education for young musicians.
A member of the society, Nana Nyarko Ackah-Yensu, told Showbiz that they were happy the Polo Club concert went well and that they have plans to bring down other formidable artistes soon.
Albums by Native Vibe including their newest, Across The Globe and one recorded live in Accra during the band’s 2006 visit with Vinx, Live At Don’s Place Vol.1, were sold at the concert.