All posts in August 1990

Bio 05

biog5
In 1984, Tontoh formed a London band to back three visiting Ghanaian musicians – A.B. Crentsll, Eric Agyeman and Thomas Frempong. An album, Highlife Stars, followed on Osibisa’s own Flying Elephant label.

Osibisa occasionally staged reunion concerts before Teddy Osel put together a new line-up for 1996’s Monsore Sequel Records reissued much of their past catalogue in 1999, proving how good the band were and how amazingly fresh their music still sounds today.

Contrary to popular belief, this legendary band are still in existence, still recording. Their latest release AKA KAKRA is an absolute triumph mixing their familiar rock tinged cross-rhythms with some great improvised jazz leanings.

Bio 4

biog4

In 1980 Osibisa performed a special concert at the Zimbabwean indipendence celebrations. By this time, however, Osibisa’s star was in decline, in commercial terms, in Europe and America. The band continued touring and releasing records, but to steadily diminishing audiences. Business problems followed.

After initially signing to MCA Records, Osibisa had changed labels several times, ending with Bronze Records.

Their moves reflected their growing frustration with British business, as each label in turn tried to persuade them to adapt their music to the disco style. Osibisa were prepared to make some concessions but only to a point.

In the mid-80’s, the group directed their attention to the state of the music business in Ghana, planning a studio and theatre complex, and to helping in the promotion of younger highlife artists.

Bio 3

biog3

The venture proved to be an immediate success, with the single ‘Music for Gong Gong’ a substantial hit in the 1970 (three other singles later made the British Top 10: ‘Sunshine Day;, ‘Dance the Body Music’ and ‘Coffee Song’). Osibisa’s debut album displayed nmusic whose rock references, especially in the guitar solos, combined with vibrant African cross rhythms. The band’s true power only fully came across on stage, when African village scenarios and a mastery of rhythm and melody summoned up energy and spirit.
Woyaya reached number 11 in the UK and Art Garfunkel later covered it’s title track.

During the late 70’s they spent much of their time on world tours, playing to particularly large audiences in Japan, India, Australia and Africa. They were joined at this time, by the Ghanaian percussionist Darko Adams ‘Potato’ (b. 1932, d. January 1995, Accro, Ghana).

Bio 2

biog2

Tontoh was also a member of the Comets, before joining the Uhuru Dance Band, one of the first outfits to bring elements of jazz into Ghanaian highlife. The other founder-members of Osibisa were Spartacus R, a Grenadian bass player, Robert Bailey (b. Trinidad; keyboards) and Wendel Richardson (b. Antigua; lead guitar), &Lasisi Amao (b. Nigeria; percussionist &tenor sax).

Teddy Osei moved to London in 1962 where he was eventually given a scholarship by the Ghanaian government to study music. In 1964, he formed Cat’s Paw, an early blueprint for Osibisa that blended highlife, rock and soul. In 1969, feeling the need for more accomplished African musicians within the line-up, he persuaded Tontoh and Amarflo to join him in London and Osibisa was born.

Bio 01

biog1

Biography

Formed in London in 1969 by three Ghanaian and three Caribbean musicians, Osibisa played a central role in developing an awareness of African music among European and North American audiences in the 70’s.

The Ghanaian founder members of Osibisa – Teddy Osel (saxaphone), Sol Amarfio (drums) and Mac Tontah, Teddy’s brother (trumpet) – were seasoned members of the Accra highlife scene before they moved to London to launch their attack on the world stage. Osel and Amaflio had played in the Star Gazers, a top Ghanaian highlife band, before setting up the Comets, who scroed a large West African hit with their 1958 single ‘Pete, Pete’.

Mick Tee

mick_full

Mick Tee

Mick Tresnan aka Mick Tee.

Tour Manager & Assists with the Management of Osibisa. Mick has worked in the music industry for many years, as Tour Manager & Road Manager for: Jimmy Ruffin, Courtney Pine, Georgie Fame, Gonzales, Amy Smith
Rodrigo & Gabriella, just to name a few.

Mick has been friends with the Osibisa family for almost 40 years & has worked with the band for the past 10 years. Mick is also a PSV coach/tour-bus driver & runs Crossbow Tours/Splitterbus.com with his wife.

Dell Richardson profile

dell_lg

Dell Richardson

“As a founder member of Osibisa it has been a previledge to be part of a Group as dynamic and musical ,” experiences,that we traveled THE WORLD, thats,forty years of musical history ,and ofcourse contributers to the British music industry, we are probably the only surviving Group from the 70’s that is “An African and Caribbean communication base.

I was born in Antigua,arrive in the U.K 11years old grew up in Tottenham, london, first pro; Band Sundae Times, then Osibisa, The Free, Digital interface band. Teddy Osei Sol Amafio Mack Tontoh, kept Osibisa going long after I left the band. However a chance meeting of Kofie Ayivor & Kiki Gyan in Kilburn back in 75 ,who were now the new members of Osibisa, led to my return to Osibisa,they had invited me to the “Roundhouse studio, Ojah Awake,it was Gerry Bron persuation that I should try and do some vocals,one of which was The Coffee song, that was quite a mouthful, which eventually led to the vocal of Sunshine day,which was the hit song for Osibisa,it is 1975 and Micheal Odumuso the bassist a man of character and vision,called me in High Wycombe to say that Micheal Aspel has just played SUNSHINE DAY,During Christmas of 75,could it be I wondered, but he always put a smile on my face, make us all laugh ,these were very happy times in Osibisa for me,then on new years eve he call to tell me that Kenny Everette played Sunshine day on Capitol Radio after midnight, that was 1976.

The transition of the African percussive band Osibisa is now in the heart of the british music scene,the POP music industry, and I am recording with Osibisa using my acoustic Martin on a song that I am to sing called Welcome Home not everyone was kool about the use of my acoustic instrument, but as it turned out it was quite apropriate for the song,it brought all the sultleties out from the vocal,then I became the lead vocalist/lead guitarist of Osibisa, the seal of acceptance,that song was written for me,and thousands of Ghanians expelled from Nigeria.

It is Osibisa that gave birth to the spirit of jazz and blues for me,and the “live” CD Black magic night captured some inspiraring moments. I look forward to the spirit of togetherness. As for the free this was a very exciting band of brave musicians,they had booked the Astoria theatre for auditions,and I got the message to get there,and I did ,they were friendly Paul ask what would you like to play Dell? I said maybe some blues,they gave me 400 watts of marshalls to play with,in no time everyone was convince I was the man,during the Jam I remembered that I litterary felt the force of the speakers blowing at the flaps of my pants,with Free you play in the fast lane with total control at full volume,then they ask that they would send a cab to my house to collect my passport, we would be leaving in a few days,first Gig was New Orleans my nightmare began learning the Free repertoire in two days, however it was going very well until they played a prank on me by removing the canopy cover from the Ice and got me to run on the Ice to the stage I fell and damage my axe, after that I moved on, to doing my first solo Album thanks to David Howells, Pieces of a Jig-saw.

After Black magic night the hunger set in once more,1977-life ever changing times, I went to Holland 82 and stayed a while 11 years playing with my computer generated music learning as I work playing cafe,s Universities,until the death of my Father, I return to Antigua which eventually led to making of Omowale’useing one of my bedroom as a studio,then I did the second CD, odello Super Groove,and finally I made my first Gospel CD All Hail,my band the Digital interface band gave me the opportunity to play up to 7 gatergories of music and pay my survival in the making of three cds above and a studio to record my music,and a reason to stay alive in the music business,the musician union says keep music live” indeed they are right,FOR ME IT IS A FULL CIRCLE FOR HERE i AM IN LONDON,LET THE MUSIC PLAY,
LET IT BE.

Colin Graham profile

graham_lg

Colin Graham

Colin Graham is originally from the Caribbean. Over the years he has been performing and/or recording for such bands as Brand New Heavies, Shaggy, Mick Hucknell (as part of Simply Red), Incognito, Art Blakey, (and the Jazz Messengers), and Roland Gift (Fine Young Cannibals).

Colin has also performed alongside such musicians as David Sanborn and Marcus Miller.

Past production work has included Colin producing Paul Young. More recently, Colin would have been seen performing with Jamiroquai and Courtney Pine’s Jazz Warriors. Colin has been performing and recording with Osibisa for the past 7 years.

Herman Asafo-Agyei profile

agyei_lg

Herman Asafo-Agyei

Herman Asafo-Agyei is without doubt one of Africa’s most celebrated bass players with a career spanning some 35 years. Herman’s enormous stage presence; his unique slapping and thumping style and his great rapport with audiences are a delight to watch. His dexterity as a bass player in a wide genre of music, has earned him the nickname ‘Wonderbass’ among his peers. Charlie Gillet a renowned UK radio DJ once described Herman in a radio interview in 1987 as the best all round African bass player he had ever observed in action. Herman joined Osibisa in 1985 and toured with them worldwide until 1993.

Born in Ghana, Herman’s first major break arrived at the young age of 17 when he was recommended to the late Faisal Helwani who without hesitation installed him as Bassist for his resident bands Basabasa and Bunzu Soundz at the Napoleon Night Club. Herman joined Wantu Wazuri under the leadership of popular guitarist Tommy Darling shortly afterwards and was voted best young bassist in Ghana in an unofficial poll held at the Arts Council of Ghana before he left in 1976 to study Law, Economics and Politics abroad. He was the most prolific African studio session bass player in the 1980’s and early 90’s in the UK. He has worked with all major UK-based African bands including King Masco from Sierra Leone and has either performed or recorded with veteran highlife composers and musicians such as the late ET Mensah; CK Mann; Jewel Ackah; Pat Thomas and Thomas Frimpong. He toured Israel with Kabala led by Mike Osapanin and played on their hit single ‘Ashewoara’. He was also founder member of Highlife International, the first highlife outfit to be signed to the Sterns Africa Record label.

However, from 1989 to 91, the lure of the dollar and the quest for more international success got the better of him and he signed up with the Afro Nova record label and relocated in Canada with his own band, Native Spirit. Native Spirit is to date one of the most influential Afro-funk outfits to have been exported to North America.

Herman gave up touring in 1996 to concentrate on his socio-legal career only to be recalled by Teddy Osei to rejoin the Osibisa line up in 2005. In a recent interview with the media in Ghana, Herman confessed: “Teddy Osei is the only band leader who has succeeded in luring me back into performing live”Herman is currently a Family Court Adviser and a Family Justice Consultant by profession and the Associate Pastor of Northolt Grange Baptist Church.

Nii Tagoe profile

full_tagoe

Nii Tagoe

Nii Tagoe was born in Accra, Ghana, into a royal family made up of master drummers and dancers, from whom he inherited his talent for drumming, dancing and singing.

He came to Britain in 1990 as a principal dancer, drummer and teacher in the Adzido Dance Company and has since choreographed many dances, including Peter Gabriel’s floor show at the London Millennium Dome.
After leaving Adzido, Nii went on to self-fund the start of his own drumming and dance company Frititi in 1993, which was created to explore, develop and pass on to future generations, traditional artistic expressions using music, dance, poetry and ritual.

Frititi’s challenge is to project a more positive image of Africa and to help dispel the myths and negative stereotypes of the African continent and its people. It also aims to develop a sense of self-awareness within the individual and a global awareness of Africa and its rich culture.
Frititi implements its mission through workshops, performances, youth programs, promotion of new artists, production work, lecture demonstrations, community outreach and creative partnership programs with renowned artists and other performing companies.

As the Artistic Director of Frititi and principal percussionist of Baka Beyond, Nii brings to all his work a lifetime’s immersion in his deep knowledge of the diverse dance rhythmic traditions of Ghana. His experience ranges from 18 years of travel, learning and performing around the African continent (especially in Zulu Land and throughout Central, South and West Africa) to touring productions and workshops around Europe, Israel, America, Canada, The Middle East and Asia.

Nii tours and performs regularly as percussionist, singer and composer with world music chart toppers: Baka Beyond, African Headcharge, ADF Soundsystem, Osibisa and Lorraine Ayensu & Band amongst others and also runs his own band – The Nii Tagoe Afro Funk Band.

Having released his latest solo album in 2006, Nii hopes to inspire others with his music, and hopes to tour more of his work around the world so as to reach out to and share his passion with others.

He also believes in building a more cohesive representation of the rich cultures that exist within Africa by merging them together on various levels. Recent projects with the government in Brazzaville, Congo saw more than 200 local Congolese each time being auditioned and trained by Nii and his team over weeks to put together shows that showcased the dance and music cultures from across Africa for the Fespam Festival in 2005 as well as the African Youth Cup Championship in 2007.

In true pursuit of his passion for the African culture, Nii also continuously studies African music and dance as a foundation for his own work.

For more information on Nii Tagoe, please visit: www.myspace.com/niitagoe & www.frititi.com