Ghanaian drum master Yacub Addy and his exceptional percussion and vocal ensemble Odadaa! appeared Monday 1/19/09 at the Eisenhower Theater at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC in “LET FREEDOM RING: A CELEBRATION OF AMERICA” with Wynton Marsalis and Sandra Day O’Connor. The all-star event was performed for an audience of VIP invitees and was recorded for posterity.
Yacub Addy’s Odadaa! appeared with Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra performing the dynamic Ajeseke, a piece from Congo Square, the ground-breaking two hour co-composition by Yacub Addy and Wynton Marsalis that honors the historic Congo Square site in New Orleans, the only place in America where African slaves played their own music and danced on Sunday afternoons for over a hundred years from the 17 – 1800s.
Presented by Jazz at Lincoln Center with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, the program looked back on the life of one of the greatest of all Americans, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and forward to a new era under our new President, and illustrated that American democracy and America’s music – jazz – share the same tenets and embody the same potential for change, hope and renewal, which Dr. King himself called America’s “triumphant music.”
Ajeseke (pronounced Ah-jeh-seh-keh) is a call and response dialogue that expresses in symbolic language the feelings of people living on the coast of Ghana as they watched prisoners taken away during the slave trade. The intricate rhythm is traditional for fishermen of the Ga ethnic group.
The event was hosted by Angela Basset and Courtney Vance, and included Roy Haynes, Dave Brubeck, Paquito D’rivera and Giovanni Hidalgo, Cassandra Wilson, Diane Reeves, Bela Fleck, Butch Trucks, Mark O’Connor, Herlin Riley, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, among others.
Yacub Addy’s Odadaa! includes: Yacub Addy, founder & leader, Okoe Nunoo, Assistant Leader, Otey Thompson, Laud Obuamah Addy, Imani Gonzalez, Zorkie Nelson, Ani Apang, Ayaa Tagoe, and Tawiah Nunoo.
Yacub Addy is on the faculty of the Music Department at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY.