REVIEWS ATONGO ZIMBA: BBC Africa In your Street (UK)


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Click on picture to enlarge


BBC: Atongo Zimba
makes the heart sing and dance

Finally, the one album I have been waiting for all year has been released - 'Savannah Breeze' - (Hippo Records, 2005). There is not much I can say about Atongo Zimba's music that would be able to really explain it to you. It is fresh, it makes the heart sing and dance, and more than anything it is filled with talent. Oh there is one thing - the instrument Atongo plays might not sound like anything you have ever heard before - and that is because you probably have never heard it before. The 'koloko' is very similar to the banjo in the way that it is played - but sounds like - well like I said I can't describe it - it's sweet though! So if you want to know, you will just have to have a listen.

BBC Africa In your Street (Chino Odimba) December 5 2005
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/africaonyourstreet/chinoodimba_dec05.shtml
See and hear Atongo Zimba play in front of over 40.000 spectators

 

Songlines (UK)


SONGLINES: Blowing away the machines
Hip-life, drum machines and synthsc... yawn! Yes, that is how a great deal of Ghana' s musical output has been for far too long. But along comes Atongo Zimba with an album that is like a breath of fresh savannah air. Go to Savannah Breeze cdZimba was born in the northern town of Bolgatanga and has worked in Accra, Lagos and now London, picking up musical styles along the way and weaving all the seams together. There' s a bit of Fela Kuti (his musical hero), some reggae, a tinge of Caribbean steel pan, and a good dose of jazz.
One could easily accuse such a diverse effort of attempting to be all things to all people. Not here. Zimba knows, and cherishes, his roots . as is evidenced by the prominent role throughout the album for the koloko, or molo. It' s a two-stringed lute that can produce great rhythms and delightful sound effects. From yearning pleas to keep children away from violence (Ti Baha) to feisty uptempo dance tunes (Azoroga) and a brilliant Fela-inspired molo-andpercussion feast (Bangbalabo) it is difficult to pick out a favourite. Buy this album and pick your own.

Bram Posthumus in Songlines reviews : africa JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2006


Magazine WOMEX (UK)



Make funky, Afro-jazz
Atongo Zimba (Singer, molo player, and band leader from northern Ghana, now based in the UK and Holland.) The instrument, in my language we call it koloko. In the outside they call it molo. In Gambia they call it goni. It has spread all over Africa. Mostly, I grew up from the village in the northeast of Ghana. I learned this instrument from my grandfather. When I started to learn it, I was so good with it. Normally, it was played in funeral houses, or pito houses-that's local alcohol we produce called pito, palm wine bars. That's where the music used to be. When I started to use the instrument to play around the streets, in the market, people start to think, 'Oh, this guy is not normal. He should do something better. Why waste your time going in playing in the market, a strong guy like you? You can work. Playing music in the street is not good.'

"When I finished my learning, I started to create my own idea, because then I started to listen to different foreign music. So I was having a different feeling. Then I used to listen to James Brown a lot. I could feel, this is something like a Fra Fra man. He really has the same way that we sing our songs. And then I heard Fela. And I said I would like to be like this man. I got all this influence. I wanted to make funky, Afro-jazz, but still with my molo. I didn't want to sound only like Fra Fra. I wanted to sound from all over the world, one time, with the bush sound in it.
Enlarge Cover
So 1982, I left home for Nigeria. I was 15 years old. I didn't have a passport or an ID card. The only thing I had was my instrument. When I got to the border, I played for the Customs people. They opened the border for me. They even gave me some money, because they liked the music. I started playing my music in the street in Lagos. I stayed with Fela. I watched Fela. I never stick on the same brain as my father. I forgot all of what they used to tell me not to do. I stick with what I learned on the street. I became a different person, a more open person. I never played with Fela directly myself. But every Friday at the Shrine, I would open the show before Fela comes, all alone with my molo. And every time Fela plays, I am there, listing to the sound. I am young, I learn things quick. I stayed in Nigeria for three years."

(On the release of his 2004 album, Savannah Breeze, on Hippo Records) "When I went to Ghana to launch my album, I was so impressed. All the top, top press were there. Because a lot of people had heard about my story. They wanted to see me now when I came home with this album. And the following day, all the press was talking about me. Spreading the word. It's really, really different for me, the first time Ghana's top, top press was talking about me. I wanted to go and show my people what I have got. I was very happy."

WOMEX 2005-Impressions from the World Music Whirlwind by Banning Eyre
November 29, 2005
(source: www.afropop.org )


The Graphic Showbiz (Ghana)

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Click on picture to enlarge

ATONGO ZIMBA FINDS FAME
Everyone who saw Atongo Zimba perform at his favourite two-string molo, last Tuesday at Accra's Jazz Optimist Club must have gone home with good memories of the musician and perhaps the question: Atongo Who?
Last Tuesday at the Jazz Optimist Club, Accra, Atongo launched his third and most promising album to enormous applause. Dressed in a two-piece traditional wear, Atongo, filled the cool night breeze with loud and yet captivating rhythms from his band as he sang passionate Frafra tunes from Savannah Breeze, the title of his album.
His audiences were mostly foreigners who appreciated good African music. There were Canadians, there were Jamaicans, Americans as well as a few Ghanaians with good taste for African traditional music.
Atongo's performance was backed by five young girls who made good use of the strong Afro rhythms that came from the combination of traditional and western instruments.
The dancers, flexible as they were, shook their backsides while making sensual and also very conscious movements with their waists for Atongo's guests.
As he performed, the heads of most foreigners could be seen nodding to the great African rhythms that vibrated from the loudspeakers. Others could be seen rocking themselves in their seats as they soaked in the good tunes that Atongo produced from his 'Savannah Breeze' album.
Singing in his usual raw and unique rough voice, Atongo sang 'Bedi Bedi' which means 'Stop Stop' as well as 'Gidi Gidi' which also means 'Careless'. Atongo also performed for the first time with Prof. John Collins who had contributed one of his compositions to Atongo's album.
In addition to Atongo guests that had gathered at the Jazz Optimist Club were treated to some good highlife songs. King Ayisoba was there with his group and they had the guests smiling to his songs.
Speaking with Nana Danso Abiam of the Pan African Orchestra, he said that listening to Atongo's 'Savannah Breeze' was very interesting. He said, "It is amazing how he has successfully fused traditional indigenous beats and instruments with modern ones to come up with such a good production. This makes it very attractive".
Mac Tontoh couldn't help but admit how proud he was of Atongo Zimba. He said he still remembered Atongo Zimba when he came to lodge with him all the way from the North with strong zeal to make it in music. "The only problem is that although there are a lot of Ghanaians who would love to listen to such good African songs, our radio stations do not play the. They are not even aware of the existence of such music on the market", he said.
Juliet, a Canadian who was also seen dancing throughout the entire show told Showbiz that Atongo's music was her kind of music. "You know, there is something about the music, it just makes me want to dance. I'm certainly going to buy one of the albums for myself and some for my friends", she said.
Earlier in an interview with Showbiz, Atongo talked about some difficulties that he went through as a young boy when he discovered he had the flair for singing good traditional music.
"When I started singing at market places, I received all sorts of unpleasant remarks. Some even described me as a lazy but strong energetic guy who did not want to use his energy to work. But this did not stop me from making good use of my talent", he said. His passion to become one of the greatest musicians had him touring along the coastal part of Africa and finally landed him in Lagos.
There, he settled at a spot very close to the shrine of Fela Kuti where he was later discovered by some disciples of Fela Kuti who alerted his presence to their master Fela.
His meeting with Fela in Lagos accorded him the chance to earn a dollar each night by playing his solo music as a stage opener on weekends at various musical shows organized in Nigeria.
Back in Ghana, after a year and a half stay in Lagos he performed at the Pan African Festival of Arts and Culture (PANAFEST) with Manu Dibango, Hugh Masekela, Francis Fuster, Angelique Kidjo and some other world known musicians.
'Savannah Breeze' is recorded under the record label of Hippo Records and produced by Rob Bierings.

(source: Ghanaian newspaper "The Graphic Showbiz", February 2005) http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=75086


Sing Out! (UK)

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Click on picture to enlarge

Ghana has never been represented on the international Music scene as it probably would have been in a perfect world. From top to bottom, the country is a thriving, pulsating mass of creative expression. Dozens of ethnic groups, extremes of landscape, a vibrant ocean culture, a melting pot of people that a land so rich in natural resources attracts, Ghana launches an attack on the senses with her sounds, colors, smells and tastes. Within that hothouse, some of the most complex, musically sophisticated cultures have developed but few of them have captured the appropriate recognition from the world music-consuming international audience. From that creative maelstrom emerges Atongo Zimba.
This is an extremely attractive album for many reasons. It is quite simply conceived, meaning it is not too much of a stretch for the listener to imagine Zimba busking by himself on a street corner, as had been his fate for a long time. Presumably Zimba had to learn how to craft his sound out of very limited resources, which to my mind provided the foundation for some of the wonderful qualities of this record. The backing singers, for example, who provide beautiful depth and texture, on occasion diverge into a structure similar to that of a traditional percussive group. This may sound simple, but don't be fooled. So many of the tracks are shaped around simple, catchy but utterly clever ideas. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of modern frills and tricks - too many at times in fact. Take for example, "Balanoré", a gorgeous dance tune based around a simple concept. The addition of solo sax, brass section, Fender Rhodes and even a samba-style breakdown in the middle is just gratuitous. Sure it's clever and varied, but who is it for? The song stands alone perfectly well. Then on a cover of "No Beer in Heaven", which again is beautifully performed and irresistible for its mischievousness, we have an invasion of steel pan. Unnecessary and irrelevant: why?
Zimba has a history with Fela Kuti, having been employed by him to open gigs at The Shrine in Lagos. There is a definite nod towards the master on the closing track "Onikpa Shwarp". This track is a bit of an exercise in homage actually, in that the composition can be attributed (as can the harmonica sample) to John Collins. Collins is the British musician and academic who has become as native as any Ghanaian could claim to be. He is responsible for many of the landmark recordings from Ghana and is head of the Performing Arts Department at the University in Accra.
There is really very little reason not to recommend this album. There is a touch of musical schizophrenia going on, a mild case of throw in all the ingredients and see what sticks. But whatever my misgivings, Savannah Breeze provides ample opportunity for the dancers out there. Every musician must find his or her own unique path, and I have absolutely no doubt that once Zimba does so, after a good deal more experimentation, granted, we will be onto something truly special. There is exquisite musicianship in here somewhere and I can't wait until it comes out a little more organic and a little less packaged.

JB Sing Out! - Vol. 50 #4 - Winter 2007 (released november 2006) http://www.singout.org


Mondomix (France)




After palm wine and highlife, Ghana offers us soothing savannah rhythms through the allround talents of Atongo Zimba. Ghana's northern savannahs have yielded few international musicians since the country gained independence in 1957. Singer-songwriter Atongo Zimba is beginning to change that. The composer allies his raw voice and "koliko" two-stringed calabash lute with electronic instruments to telling effects. The spiritual inspiration of Fela Kuti helped propel him to national fame and albums recorded in the Netherlands and Britain are paving the way to international respectability.

The freshness of "Savannah Breeze" (no pun intended) is as much down to Zimba's uncanny voice as his gripping arrangements. The 39-year-old has been patient in stitching together a unique west African sound that is difficult to pigeonhole. Take the fifth track, "Bangbalalo" ("Boys and Girls"), for example. It starts out with a subtle acoustic riff that almost sounds like the Sahelian wind in the savannah grass. In comes Zimba's eerie voice, halfway between Ian Dury and Popeye, singing with a chorus of young girls a tale of frolics on the dance-floor. The powerful drums of Nduge Kidogo take over with the Afrobeat rhythm that so touched Zimba early on in his career. The result is breathless.

Many of the album's 12 tracks have a similar density. Zimba varies the tempos as much as the languages he sings in (FraFra, pidgin and standard English, Hausa, Twi, Ga…). He is backed by a sophisticated group who add regular jazz and funk breaks to Zimba's rural strumming. The listener is therefore constantly surprised, be it by the marimba-driven version of "No Beer in Heaven" (a major hit in Ghana), or the soothingly quiet solo "Ti Baha" ("Stop Fighting") where his voice is metamorphosised.

The lyrics are disarmingly simple. They rarely veer away from day-to-day and somewhat mundane tales from his Bolgatanga region: don't let your mother down, that beautiful girl is too rough, people are so stubborn, let's dance! They contrast with the complex orchestrations around Zimba's wily use of his "molo" lute. The Ghanaian is now well-travelled and has a stock of rich exchanges in Nigeria and western Europe to draw from. His controlled and charismatic performance at the 2005 WOMEX in Gateshead revealed his growing ability to both please an international audience and keep faithful to his rural heritage. This promising third CD is another stepping-stone towards the affirmation that Zimba is the new face of Ghana's music scene.

Daniel Brown sur Mondomix (www.mondomix.com) le 9 août 2006


The Beat (UK)


Atongo Zimba's Savannah Breeze (Hippo #003/Stern's) just arrived and though it was recorded in '05 I think I'll put it in the '06 best-of contenders' pile out of fairness to the artist, because there's simply too much here to be assimilated, understood, appreciated and enjoyed in such a short period of time.The graphics immediately let you know that you're in for something deeply Africanistic, with the ochre, umber, mustard, olive, gold, hunter's green, magenta, mahogany and copper hues making their announcement of essential earthy, saturated, rich, sun-bleached Sahel-ness.

Musically this deceptively cheerful performance can be enjoyed just as a series of fabulous songs performed by an excellent cast of characters, but on a deeper level it can be viewed as one extremely talented singer's love affair with the various components that dominate West African music in partnership with an equally talented producer/bassist: David Yowell AKA Sultan Makendé. Dry, string-based melismatic Sahelian village music; highlife, palm-wine, calypso and Afrobeat; doses of dancehall, dub, New Orleans second-line, samba, jazz and funk all combined in a soulful sum that is even greater than its parts. Speaking of dancehall, Zimba's buzzy, distorted baritone is something else indeed - a must-hear vocal performance if there ever was one - though he also sings in a lighter timbre on many of the tracks. The neo-Afro-beat tune "Bangbalabo" reaches the apex of the former vocal technique.
The backing vocalists - Dani Pompeo, Tina Mensah, Fusena Haruna, , Abena Eucheria, along with guests Lydia Habiba and Uncle Panjee - have created the quintessential authentic West African village vocal sound. Most people would find it referential to the backing vocalists of Fela's groups and it is, both because Zimba circulated in that world for a while and because Fela pulled that sound from the same source. Shrill, piquant, cutting, thrilling - a perfect complement to both Zimba's vocalizations and the disc's brisk rhythms. And though the intonation is excellent the backing vocals offer no other concession to Western performance or recording values and that's a great thing.
The instrumentation blend is diverse and pretty much flawless. Makendé's bass playing supports the entire performance in a spectacular blend of classic highlife and calypso figures, while also evoking the marimbula at times (AKA rumba box - check out "Sana Menga", it's uncanny) and throwing in some quick funk, reggae and fusion figures for flavour (I think that may be "Watermelon Man" he's quoting on "Azoroga", but with kind of a Bootsy fashizzle-dizzle-dizzle goin' on). And we may have discovered another highly accomplished African keys-man here in Daoudi Roberto Lewoy - his Fender Rhodes and Hammond organ chops are an integral part of the mix. Drummer Ndugu Kidogo also innovates, relying on open cymbal sounds far more than is typical on African recordings, and though a small and subtle thing, it adds an amazing flavour to the pot. Like other recent discs by Issa Bayogo, Cheb Khaled and Amadou and Mariam, Savannah Breeze successfully marries electronica - both synthesized and sampled - with traditional and folk instruments (wood flute, kalimba, two-stringed molo lute, myriad percussion, steel drum, accordion) with staple popular music instruments (guitars, bass, drum kit, keyboards, trumpet and sax).

Go to Savannah Breeze cdTo be able to incorporate technology in a way that is deeply soulful and authentic in the sense that it supports and enhances the artists' sound world is no mean feat and it has been done perfectly here. The diversity of repertoire has been handled masterfully as well, and though the material is broad, it flows together logically and smoothly. Check out the madcap calypso/palm wine rewrite of some obscure old polka song "No Beer in Heaven", with the ladies shrilly pronouncing "in Heaven dere is no beer/dat is why we be drinkin' all de beer" and Zimba's signature buzzy "Hey, hey, hey, hey" refrain. It doesn't get any better than this. This fascinating disc could take up an entire column. A piece of West African truth that contains at least one musical message for almost everyone in the Western Hemisphere. Indispensable, perhaps legendary, a top 10 definite.

The Beat 1/2006


French Mondomix (France)


Après le vin de palme et la joie de vivre, le Ghana nous offre un échantillon des rythmes de la savane grâce au talent d'Atongo Zimba.
Les savaniens du nord du Ghana ont apporté sur la scène musicale quelques musiciens internationaux depuis que le pays a gagné l'indépendance en 1957. Le chanteur et parolier Atongo Zimba commence à changer cela. Le compositeur allie sa voix rauque et le "koliko", une lutte calebasse à deux cordes avec des instruments électroniques. L'inspiration spirituelle de Fela Kuti l'a aidé à se propulser et à obtenir une renommée nationale et les albums enregistrés aux Pays Bas et en Grande-Bretagne préparent le terrain pour la scène international

REVUE: Savannah Breeze

La fraîcheur de l'album "Savannah Breeze" (sans aucun jeux de mots) est autant due à la voix surnaturelle de Zimba qu'à ses arrangements passionnants. Le musicien de 39 ans a été patient en utilisant un ensemble de bruits uniques de l'Afrique de l'Ouest qui sont difficiles à classer.
Prenez le cinquième morceau, "Bangbalalo" ("des garçons et des filles"), par exemple. Cela commence dehors par un riff acoustique subtile qui ressemble presque à du vent venant du Sahel, dans l'herbe de la savane. Vient alors s'ajouter la voix mystérieuse de Zimba, à mi-chemin entre Ian Dury et Popeye, chantant avec un choeur de jeunes filles, un conte gambadant sur le dance-floor.
Les tambours puissants de Nduge Kidogo succèdent avec le rythme Afrobeat qui a touché Zimba au début de sa carrière. Le résultat est époustouflant.
Plusieurs albums composés de 12 morceaux ont la même densité. Zimba change les tempos, autant que les langues qu'il chante (FraFra, pidgin et anglais, Hausa, Twi, Ga...). Il est accompagné par un groupe qui ajoutent des breaks de jazz et de funk.
L'auditeur est donc constamment étonné, que ce soit par la version de " No Beer in Heaven" (un Hit majeur au Ghana), ou grâce à douceur du solo "Ti Baha" où sa voix est métamorphosée
Les paroles sont de manière désarmante simples. Elle vire rarement loin des contes de sa région de Bolgatanga : "Don't let your mother down, that beautiful girl is too rough, people are so stubborn, let's dance!"
Elles contrastent par rapport à l'orchestration complexe et astucieuse de Zimba avec l'utilisation de son luth "molo". Le ghanéen a maintenant beaucoup voyagé et s'est enrichi en s'inspirant de ces expériences au Nigéria et l'Europe de l'ouest.
Sa très bonne et charismatique prestation au WOMEX 2005 à Gateshead, a révélé ses capacités croissantes à satisfaire le public international et à maintenir à son héritage rural. Son très prometteur troisième CD est une autre pas vers l'affirmation que Zimba est le nouveau visage de la musique du Ghana.

Daniel Brown sur Mondomix (www.mondomix.com) le 9 août 2006


Trouw (Dutch)
 


Go to Savannah Breeze cdMuziek uit francophoon Afrika (Congo, Mali, Senegal) bepaalt grotendeels het Afrikaanse popaanbod in het Westen. Tot eind jaren zeventig was het omgekeerd toen Engelstalig Afrika nog platenbak en podia domineerde. Via de dansvloer beleeft de Nigeriaanse afrobeat van Fela Kuti vandaag een revival. Ook de Ghanese highlife krijgt weer een kans dankzij Atongo Zimba. Op 'Savannah Breeze' ontpopt hij zich als een ruwe diamant, die telkens opflonkert met een ander facet van zijn bruisend talent. Zimba groeide op in de savannes van Noord-Ghana, vertoefde bij Fela Kuti in Lagos, belandde in Accra, toerde door Europa en streek neer in Londen. De weerslag van al die ervaringen hoor je terug in een vloeiend stijlenpalet waarop afrobeat, jazz, funk en highlife stuivertje wisselen. Twee constanten kleuren alle songs. Zimba's gedecideerde, bluesy stem die uit duizenden te herkennen is, en het metronoomstrakke getokkel van de 'molo'. Deze tweesnarige luit uit Atongo's geboortestreek houdt dit album als een stevig sisaltouwtje bijeen. In het onstuimige 'Azoroga' klinkt-ie funky, in 'Zo ndorizo' evocatief, weer broeierig in 'Ti baha'. De uitsmijter van 'Savannah Breeze' is een geslaagde remix van de afrobeat-klassieker 'Onikpa shwarp'. Er waait een nieuwe wind uit Ghana.

Stan Rijven in de Trouw (zaterdag 26 november 2005)

De Volkskrant (Dutch)


Go to Savannah Breeze cd

 

 

RATELENDE RITMES ***
Atongo Zimba: Savannah Breeze. Hippo Records.
Zimba is een Ghanees die de molo bespeelt, een tweesnarige luit, waarmee hij de snelle, ratelende ritmes aangeeft die de basis vormen van zijn vrolijke muziek. Hij zingt eroverheen met een diep uit de kelder komend gekreun dat herinnert aan de Zuid-Afrikaanse 'groaner' Mahlatini. Titels als Bédi Bédi en Gidi Gidi geven goed aan wat je kunt verwachten: Afrikaanse meezingers die op zijn minst de tenen in de schoenen laten dansen. Samen met de hechte band stort hij zich zelfs op een onweerstaanbare bewerking van de aloude polka No Beer In Heaven.

Frank van Herkde
De Volkskrant donderdag 1 december 2005

Heaven (Belgian)

Go to Savannah Breeze cd


Invloeden versmelten ****
Atongo Zimba uit Accra, Ghana combineert Afro-beat met betoverende zang, heel leuke kinderkoorzang die genoeg humor heeft om te bekoren, zeker in contrast met Zimba's ruige stem. Zimba zingt lead en begeleidt zichzelf op de molo, een tweesnarige luit, die zijn opa hem leerde bouwen en bespelen.
Prachtige aanvullende begeleiding en soli van fluit, saxofoon en zoetgevooisde melodieën voeren je al snel een droomwereld in, waarin echter niet alles even fraai is, getuige de geëngageerde thema's van de nummers. Zimba nam zelf de, soms gehaaide, verfijnde arrangementen voor zijn rekening; is de song het halve werk, de productie is de andere en die staat hier op een zeldzaam hoog niveau. Een prachtig evenwicht in de keuze van a capella versus begeleid, in simpele melodie afgewisseld met een waarlijke wall of sound - Zimba haalt alles uit de kast.
Atongo Zimba is een openbaring. Het zou misschien goed zijn de teksten als geheel op te nemen, in plaats van samengevat. De westerse invloeden (jazz, blues, minimal, elektronisch) gaan voorbeeldig samen met de Afrikaanse, iets wat je zelden zo fraai ziet.

Willem Hurkmans in Heaven (Belgisch popmagazine), januari/februari 2006


NRC Handelsblad (Dutch)

Go to Savannah Breeze cd

Goedgemaakte afropop waar je ook zonder party vrolijk van wordt
Hij werd geboren in de savannen van het noorden van Ghana, vandaar de titel Savannah Breeze.
Hij luisterde in zijn jeugd veel naar Fela Kuti van wie hij in ieder geval heeft geleerd dat goede dansmuziek meer behelst dan het pompen van beats. Zijn instrument is de koliko, een tweesnarig tokkelinstrument met als klankkast een kalebas, maar die is zelden prominent te horen.
Het gaat hier vooral om Atongo de zanger die knauwerig en raspend het aanstekelijke middelpunt is van verschillende bezettingen die met elkaar de behoefte delen de zaak hevig te laten swingen.
Soms fel en stads als er blazers meedoen, meer op een half-landelijke manier als een steelpan of accordeon de sfeer bepalen. Voor de komische noot zorgt 'No beer in heaven' een ge-afrikaniseerde versie van de Teutoonse dijenkletser 'in de hemel is geen bier, daarom drinken wij het hier'. Dit is gevarieerde en goedgemaakte afropop waar je ook zonder party vrolijk van wordt.

Frans van Leeuwen in het NRC Handelsblad van zaterdag 28/zondag 29 januari 2006 (4 sterren)


Revolver(Dutch)

Go to Savannah Breeze cd

Onweerstaanbare dansmuziek
De Ghanese zanger Atongo Zimba verzorgde anderhalf jaar lang het voorprogramma van Fela Kuti in The Shrine, de legendarische nachtclub van The Black President. Hij speelde nooit samen met zijn jeugdidool Fela, maar raakte wel in de ban van de afrobeat. Na muzikale omzwervingen door Afrika en Europa werd Zimba in 2002 in Londen ontdekt door Dave Yowell, producer van Savannah Breeze. Op deze door het Nederlandse label Hippo Records uitgebrachte cd smeden Atongo Zimba en zijn hechte band afrobeat, funk, jazz en Ghanese volksmuziek tot één van de meest uitbundige Afrikaanse cd's van de laatste tijd. Met zijn stem van steenkoolgruis en razendsnel getokkel op de molo (tweesnarige luit) geeft Zimba een geheel eigen draai aan de lessen van zijn leermeester Fela. Meest opvallende nummers zijn de aanstekelijke cover van polka klassieker No Beer in Heaven, de remix van het door Fela Kuti mede-geproduceerde Onikpa Shwarp en het heftig funkende Balanoré.
Onweerstaanbare dansmuziek.

Bas Springer in Revolver (nieuw Nederlands muziektijdschrift), 2e editie, maart/april 2006 (4 sterren)


OOR (Dutch)

Go to Savannah Breeze cd

Een kolkend dansfeest
De West-Afrikaanse zanger en muzikant Atongo Zimba komt uit de Noord-Ghanese savanne en leerde daar van zijn grootvader over de molo. Hij is een meester op deze tweesnarige kalebas-luit, die net zo diep, donker en ritmisch kan klinken als Zimba's stem. Hij pikte in onder meer Lagos (bij Fela Kuti) en het Londense straatcircuit zijn muzikale invloeden op. Op de groeidiamant Savannah Breeze smelten die strak en funky samen, maar Zimba laat in Ti Baha ook horen hoe goed hij solo overweg kan met die molo. Frisse meidenkoortjes peppen het opzwepende, met jazzy blazers versierde Azoroga op, terwijl Zimba's prettig grommende stem als een bezetene tekeer gaat. In de hilarische polkabewerking (met steeldrums) No Beer In Heaven - een hit in Ghana - worden we aangespoord zoveel mogelijk bier op dit ondermaanse te drinken, want later kan dat niet meer. Bassist Sultan Makendé, Zimba's producer en arrangeur (die jaren geleden ook verantwoordelijk was voor het legendarische album van Captain Yaba), geeft blazers, piano en Hammond-orgel aan het eind extra ruimte in een trits door Afrobeat geïnspireerde nummers. In de Onikpa Shwarp Remix, een superfunky compositie uit 1978 van muziekkenner, muzikant en producer John Collins, waarin Atongo in het frafra rapt, komt alles samen in een kolkend dansfeest.

Pieter Franssen in Oor (Maart 2006)


Links to Atongo fan-sites

To Barefoot in the sand


http://www.angelfire.com/mo3/atongo/ The unofficial fanclubsite can be found at http://go.to/atongo too (same site) or See and hear Atongo Zimba play in front of over 40.000 spectators

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