The Klassiks of Ambolley (Simigwa Records, 2009)
Guitarist, singer, composer and producer Gyedu-Blay Ambolley, known as the “Simigwa Do Man”, is one of the essential artists in Ghana. His latest recording, titled The Klassiks of Ambolley, is an outstanding collection of original highlife musical pieces (except for Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On”). Ambolley’s highlife style is jazzy and irresistible, combining various Ghanaian rhythms with American jazz elements. “Tradition is our culture and wisdom our toll,” says Ambolley.
Ambolley’s early years of musical interest dates back to the age of eight, when he began playing with his father’s flute until he was able to teach himself how to play. His formal musical training came at the age of fourteen under the apprenticeship of “Uncle Bonku” who taught him the guitar. The young received musical training from the late Sammy Lartey and Ebo Taylor.
Over the years, Ambolley has composed an extraordinary highlife and African jazz repertoire. The Ghanaian musician calls his style of highlife ‘Simigwa Do.’ He cites James Brown, Ray Charles, and ‘the late’ Sam Cook as his main sources of inspiration for his free style of singing. Other musical influences include jazz giants such as Jimmy Smith, Max Roach, Wes Montgomery, Charlie Parker, Clifford Brown, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Eckstine, whom he heard on the “Voice of America Jazz Hour.”
The Klassiks of Ambolley is an immediately accessible album of highlife at its best.
Buy the album at blayambolley.com