Sunken Treasure: Ebo Taylor & Uhuru Yenzu

Awesome music from the archives

 

Ebo Taylor’s music is an extremely rich and vibrant sound with all sorts of threads intertwining to form a striking patchwork.

So many musical influences intersect that it would take a particularly steady cartographer’s hand to map it out with precision, but here it goes.

Taylor grew up in 1950s Ghana playing guitar in various highlife bands. His head was turned by myriad sounds that reached the country through the machinations of British colonial transmitters. His seaside home in Saltpond was well positioned to catch the radio-waves that crashed on the shoreline as strangely bewitching music. By the time the country achieved independence in 1957, he was itching to immerse himself in the jazz sounds that had drifted his way.

Prime minister Kwame Nkrumah’s first government were keen to develop arts and culture in Ghana and Taylor was among a handful of students given grants to study music abroad. Thus he found himself in London at the Eric Guilder School of Music as the 1960s swung into action. His first significant encounter there was with a Nigerian student called Fela Kuti.

Taylor’s time in London was the stuff of musical dreams with nighttime shifts in Ronnie Scott’s and brushes with the calypso king Lord Kitchener. He returned to his homeland and racked up production credits that read like a who’s who of Ghana’s contribution to Afrobeat.

His own compositional work reached its spiritual zenith with this 1980 album. Sung in English, it’s by far the best door into his solo work.

Weighty universal themes of life, love, loss and redemption are rendered here with the lightest of touches in the most sumptuous of colours.

It goes best with sunshine but can generate considerable light of its own accord on the darkest of days.

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