Nok Cultural Ensemble: Njhyi review | John Lewis’s contemporary album of the month

(SA Recordings)
A four-piece drum circle forms the core of a fusion of instruments taking us from Jamaican nyabinghi to grime and Brazilian baião to drill

You might have encountered Edward Wakili-Hick in various guises over the years. As Eddie Hick, he has been a key figure on London’s jazz scene, drumming with the likes of Nubya Garcia, Gilad Atzmon and Sons of Kemet, leading the Steam Down sessions in Deptford under the moniker Nache, and playing sessions with everyone from Mark Ronson to Florence and the Machine. You might even have heard him as a teenager, playing trumpet in a railwayman’s brass band in his native York, or seen him spinning on his head with a breakdancing crew in Leeds.

His latest project, the Nok Cultural Ensemble, doesn’t resemble anything else on his CV. At its core is a four-piece drum circle, with kit drummer Wakili-Hick joined by Onome Edgeworth (from Kokoroko), Dwayne Kilvington (AKA Wonky Logic) and Joseph Deenmamode (AKA Mo Kolours), all playing African percussion such as the Ghanaian kpanlogo, the tambourine-like Mauritian ravanne, the ekwe log drum or the gankogui cowbell. Crucially, these are mixed with other instruments throughout time and space, from caxixi shakers to cajon box drums and Roland drum machines, linking Africa to the diaspora and taking us from Jamaican nyabinghi to grime, from Brazilian baião to drill, from rumba to dub.

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