Dele Sosimi & The Afrobeat Orchestra – Live @ Jazz Café

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Photo: Courtesy of Siobhan Bradshaw

Afrobeat is defined as: ‘A combination of traditional Nigerian and Ghanaian music, Jazz, Highlife, Funk and chanted vocals, fused with percussion and vocal styles, popularised in Africa in the 1970s.’ Veteran Afrobeat King of the keyboards Dele Sosimi definitely meets all of the above criteria. With a CV harking back to playing alongside the legendary Fela Kuti in his Eygpt 80 band, Dele Sosimi’s Afrobeat Orchestra took to the Jazz Cafe stage to entertain their already hyped up and broad demographic audience.

Mi Soul DJ and integral part of Wah Wah 45’s Dom Servini did the honours with the introduction, “Please make some noise for the incredible Dele Sosimi’s Afro beat Orchestra!” The whooping and hollering kicked in as Mr Servini jumped from the front of the stage and merged into the crowd, whilst the main protagonist took to the stage. Immediately capturing the spirit within the arena Dele invited the audience to sway their arms left-to-right as the first tune ‘TMI'(Too Much Information) kicked in. With his keyboard situated front and centre everybody within the Jazz Cafe got a generous view the main man adorned in a blue Dashiki highlighted with various red patterns and dark trousers.

With his impressive Afrobeat band spread ten abreast across because the stage,the two guitarists and two bass players initiated that distinctive Afrobeat rhythm whilst whilst Dele Sosimi accompanying them on keyboards. Two minutes in and the three-piece powerhouse horn section (Mr Justin Thurgur – Trombone, Ms Tamar Osborn – Baritone Saxophone & Mr Tom Allan – Trumpet ) gave the tune a turbo boost injection. After six minutes Dele took to the microphone espousing words in the same languid manner and cadence of his former employer whilst the band played on beneath him.

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Photo: Courtesy of Siobhan Bradshaw

After paying homage to the classics he participated in alongside his good friend Mr Kuti during the eighties, Dele Sosimi made it clear that the tunes they were playing on this evening were 100% original compositions. “Everything you hear tonight is completely written, arranged and composed and evolved by the people you see up on stage tonight.” This announcement elicited some more appreciative cheers from the crowd, anticipating even more the second tune of the evening, “Sanctuary.” Again it was on the incessant guitar licks of Phil Dawsonn and Marco Piccioni that the tune was built. Having gained a solid momentum, after three minutes and thirty seconds, the horn section brought their A-Game to the fore once again. The dynamic of the three horns blowing in unison meshed with the congas and repetitive guitars and bass grooves, created an intoxicating/almost hypnotic effect on the audience.

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Tom Allan – Trumpet & Tamar Osborn – Baritone Saxophone
Photo: Courtesy of Siobhan Bradshaw

By the time Dele Sosimi had recited his verses; those gathered were ready to join with him in the chorus of “Sanctuary! Sanctuary! Follow me home, Sanctuary! “The congas/percussion of Mr Alfa Sackey and the drums of Mr Olakunle Olofinjana took centre stage at the beginning of, “I Don’t Care” prior to Mr Sosimi delivering a pronounced and energetic keyboard solo. When he wasn’t hopping i around like a cat on a hot tin roof behind his keyboard, he was strutting back and forth on stage whilst marrying his vocal delivery with purposeful arm gestures. The audience reacted instinctively to the positive vibes he was emitting.

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Photo: Courtesy of Siobhan Bradshaw

Next up was ‘Local Champion,’ yet another original tune written and performed in the classic Afro-beat vein of yesteryear. Our master of ceremonies led the crowd in syncopated clapping whilst Suman Joshi lay down an impressive funk baseline. The baseline soon morphed into the unmistakable sounds of Ini Kamoze’s ‘Here Comes The Hot Stepper’ with the crowd now swaying back and forth rhythmically, conducted by Dele Sosimi. A brief homage to the JB’s by the horn section segued into a fluid piano solo by Mr Sosimi, before baritone saxophonist, graduate of the Guildhall school of Music and front woman of newly formed progressive Jazz band ‘Collocutor,’ Tamar Osborn offered up a monster solo of her own from such a slender frame.

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Tamar Osborn (Baritone Sax)
Photo: Courtesy of Siobhan Bradshaw

The energy vibrations rippled outwards from the stage and seemed to infiltrate everyone present, causing involuntary movements of their heads, hands and feet. Dele Sosimi gave them more reason to get their groove on when he took the microphone singing the impactful lyrics of ‘Local Champion’ then finally treating us all to another full-blown keyboard solo, whilst the lone backing singer and dancer Abby Dosunmu shook her money-maker for all she was worth.

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Photo: Courtesy of Siobhan Bradshaw

On ‘No Long Things’ Dele Sosimi took time out to name check his impressive and consummate band of musicians and singers. He then stepped from behind his keyboard and addressed his audience up close and personal from the front of the stage, who lapped it up. Returning to the ebonies and ivories, we were treated to some etereal piano playing which seemed to float over the top of his fellow orchestral musicians. ‘Omo Mo Gba Tie’ was initiated by some vigorous and pronounced hip thrusts in time with the vigorous and pronounced beat and rhythm, before mellowing out into a more styled out flow.

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Photo: Courtesy of Siobhan Bradshaw

The quirkily titled ‘Ya Na Fit Touch Am’ highlighted all the nuances and rich musical lushness of the wholesome Afrobeat sound. This led us into the last tune of the evening, ‘Ya Hand’ which involved the whole Afrobeat orchestra as well as one hundred percent crowd participation as Dele Sosimi once again orchestrated the masses in extending their arms and shaking their hands outwardly, whilst chanting the song’s simple strap-line “Go ‘way Ya Hand!” enthusiastically. Once again the driving horns, relentless guitar licks, down-low and dirty bass chords, free-spirited conga playing and fully rounded and impactful drum playing all combined for a blissful ‘sense-around’ audio experience. With Dele Sosimi and his band of merry and talented musicians, Afrobeat still has a millennium’s worth of legs in it yet – Long live Dele Sosimi! Long live Afrobeat!

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Photo: Courtesy of Siobhan Bradshaw

Michael J Edwards

Dele Sosimi’s Afrobeat Orchestra:
Mr Dele Sosimi- MD/Rhythm Keyboard/Lead Vocals; Mr Femi ELIAS – Bass Guitar; Mr Justin THURGUR – Trombone; Mr Olakunle OLOFINJANA – Drums; Ms Tamar Osborn – Baritone Saxophone; Mr Phil Dawson – Guitar; Mr Tom Allan – Trumpet; Mr Suman Joshi – Bass Guitar; Mr Marco Piccioni – Guitar; Ms Abby Dosunmu – Vocals/Dancer; Mr Afla Sackey – Congas and percussion

Essential Album: Identity (CD 2009)

Essential Single: Sanctuary

Essential Website: http://www.delesosimi.org/

NB* Big Mike and UK Vibe thanks extended to Pete Buckenham:
On The Corner Records
Dom Servini: http://www.wahwah45s.com/

travelling the spaceways since 1993