Could We Be More Kokoroko
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- 2Blue Robe (pt.i)00:38
- 3Ewà Inú06:41
- 4Age Of Ascent04:58
- 5Dide O04:11
- 6Soul Searching03:35
- 7We Give Thanks03:40
- 8Those Good Times04:13
- 10War Dance05:38
- 13Something's Going On05:12
- 15Blue Robe (pt.ii)00:26
Info for Could We Be More
Following the huge success of 2018’s Kokoroko EP’ and the sensational Abusey Junction, "Could We Be More" is an expansive and ambitious debut album that speaks to the force of Kokoroko.
"Could We Be More" is a sprawling and ambitious album that expresses the power of Kokoroko. Each song possesses the energy that so naturally underpins the heartbeat of the Kokoroko identity - deftly moving through Afrobeat, highlife, soul and funk, and drawing inspiration from a wealth of other influences from the West African and Caribbean communities the band grew up with, the album gives listeners feelings of homecoming and joy.
Band members Sheila Maurice-Grey and Onome Edgeworth explain how "Could We Be More" came about, "I think home has greatly influenced the way we write and play our music. Each of us has a different background, but what unites us at Kokoroko is that we all have a similar love and appreciation for Afrobeat and highlife, whether that's Ebo Taylor or Pat Thomas," says Sheila. "It's that feeling when you're younger and you hear something that you embrace. There was a lot of Nigerian music and soul played at my house, so I felt like I owned it. When you recreate a piece of music, it fills you with pride: 'This is a part of me and this is where I come from,'" Onome adds.
Kokoroko embody all that is London's improvisational music scene - an echo of the past that has taken on new forms, yet sounds new and original. The band is a vivid example of the future of the UK music scene: in their short career, they've released just 7 tracks (1x EP and 3x singles) and quickly built a huge following with over 60 million Spotify streams and a classic album, 2018's intimate, viral masterpiece "Abusey Junction."
As they release their similarly immersive debut album, Kokoroko's return is especially significant. Already winners of "Best Group" at the 2020 Urban Music Awards and the 2021 Parliamentary Jazz Awards, the collective has been lauded in the NPR Austin 100 list, crowned "One To Watch" by The Guardian, played around the world at Glastonbury, Meltdown Festival, Elbjazz, Jazz a la Villette, We Out Here, SIM São Paulo, and BBC6 Music Festival (to name a few), played a raucous session for Boiler Room, and made their BBC Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall; All before their debut album, which is as progressive and musically eclectic as one would expect from the eight different personalities within Kokoroko.
Sheila Maurice-Grey, trumpet, vocals
Cassie Kinoshi, alto saxophone, vocals
Richie Seivwright, trombone, vocals
Onome Edgeworth, drums
Ayo Salawu, drums
Tobi Adenaike-Johnson, guitar
Yohan Kebede, synthesizer, keyboards
Duane Atherley, bass, synthesizer, keyboards
channel the greats of West Africa through a jazz-rooted approach, building on the foundations laid by Fela Kuti, Tony Allen and Ebo Taylor; they lace interrelated influences together into a soul shaking, horn fueled sound. They draw from the music they grew up with, the echoes of Afrobeat and highlife heard in melodies, drum patterns and harmonised vocals.
London has long been a hotbed for experimentation for music from West Africa, and it’s into this global-local story that we can situate London’s newest afrobeat innovators: Kokoroko. In the 40’s World War Two veteran Ambrose Campbell and his West African Rhythm Brothers, were enticing Soho music lovers with sweet palm wine sounds. The following decade, a young Fela Kuti (and his Koola Lobitos outfit with drummer Tony Allen), would jam with Campbell, and the seeds for his global Afrobeat revolution were sown.
The band’s name is an Urhobo – a Nigerian tribe and language – word meaning ‘be strong’. Sonically living up to their name, Kokoroko are an all star band featuring leading lights from the London jazz community. Powered by seismic horn section (Maurice Grey, saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi, trombonist Richie Seivewright), guitar (Oscar Jerome), keys (Yohan Kebede), drums (Ayo Salawu) and percussion (Onome Edgeworth); Kokoroko are on a mission to fashion new languages using the medium of afrobeat.
“This is not idle music!” says Sheila Maurice-Grey, reflecting on the rich history of sounds that have inspired the band. Whether it's the social commentary, the political stance of acts like the Black President, or the high power energy of afrobeat nights: the music is teeming with a potent energy the band want to propel forwards, London style. Make no mistake, this is not a band interested in performative tributes or pastiche. For Maurice Grey, part of the drive behind their creative impulse to is ask: “what does this music sound like for my generation?”
“We love this music and want other people to love it the way we do”, shared Edgeworth. Aside of the primacy of love for the music, a subtext of the bands creation was a sense of alienation at London’s thinning pool of afrobeat and highlife nights – particularly of black listeners and players. “We don’t want this music to die”, he added.
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