Here's another album of palmwine music by one of my favorite musicians, Koo Nimo. The record is Tete Wobi Ka (2000), and here Agya Koo is joined by Osei Korankye, another truly one-of-a-kind musician. Osei plays the Akan harp seprewa, the original instrument of Ghanaian palm-wine music (pictured last below). This is a particularly important instrument, as it is the style and playing technique of seprewa, translated onto the guitar, that has remained at the core of Ghanaian highlife from the 1920s through the 21st century. Osei is also a singer, and his tenor provides backing to Koo Nimo's deeper, resonant voice through much of this album (I'll be devoting another post to Osei in the coming weeks).
Tete Wobi Ka doesn't appear to be commercially available any longer, so I've offered it here for download . Koo Nimo's excellent first album Osabarima is (I believe) still available commercially for purchase.
Below is a bit of biography on Koo Nimo himself:
"World-renowned Palm Wine musician, guitarist Daniel Amponsah, best known by his stage name Koo Nimo is often referred to as the “National Treasure” of Ghana. Thought of as a “living legend” by many Ghanaians, Koo Nimo's music has been a very relevant source of musical inspiration and continues to be after 40 years of performance.
Apart from his early exposure to music by his parents and playing in local groups, particularly I.E.'s Band, Koo Nimo also studied classical guitar style, harmony, counterpoint etc. at various times, to enhance his musical appreciation. "I didn't want to be a Segovia. I wanted to be an African guitarist, using my technique to do justice to my own music which I understand better," explains Agya Koo, as he is generally known in Ghana.
Although a great consumer of jazz music- from Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, Count Basie through Antonio Carlos Jobim and Lorendo Almeida to Thelonius Monk- Agya Koo drew inspiration first from Ghanaian guitarist Kwabena Onyina. But as he explains, "I didn't, however, want to be a second-rate guitarist, hence my determination to dig into my past for a traditional sound which I have now fashioned." He has represented his country with his Adadam Agofama Group at several international arts festivals and has also toured extensively throughout Europe and America, where he shared the stage with Puerto Rico's Yomo Toro during a 1988 "Guitar Summit".
Notwithstanding his stature and popularity, both within and outside Ghana, Agya Koo remains a man of the people committed to re-exposing his countrymen, particularly the young, to their own folk music. His priceless music represents a living art form - not a museum showpiece."
|Osei & Agya Koo|