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
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.