“This is Hep Cat in Nigeria” - Louis Armstrong
BBE have brokered a deal with the great Nigerian independent label Tabansi to release a large number of incredible records that range from folkloric to 80s boogie to highlife and funk with no corners cut. We are talking entire albums remastered on heavyweight vinyl with new liner notes and original sleeves turned out to perfection, aptly titled the Tabansi Gold Series. They are going to have to pull the stops out to beat this first release - the ultra-rare and ridiculously overlooked highlife jazz ‘masterpiece’ by Zeal Onyia, one of Africa’s greatest trumpet players and a key progenitor in the development of West African highlife and Igbo music in general (by introducing Ghanaian highlife harmony scales to Nigerian highlife - we enjoy the harvest of this development to this day)..
Recorded in 1979 at the Tabansi studios in Lagos, this 6-tracker is a celebration of what the Igbo people (from Southeastern Nigeria) call ‘Agadi-Akwukwo’ or ‘old school music’, highlighting Zeal’s dazzling skills and joy-giving talent. With the Tabansi Studio Band in tow, he pulled this ambition off with aplomb.
Zeal Onyia first step into the musical limelight was to play his trumpet as a herald to the great Louis Armstrong as he stepped off the plane on his legendary 1960 visit to Nigeria, grabbing the attention of ‘Satchmo’ and listening to Zeal, we can hear why. As comfortable and schooled in big bands, small jazz outfits, European classical (he was a great fan of Mozart, Bach and Beethoven and in fact, spent the decade before this recording, living and studying in Germany!) and playing traditional African styles.
‘Trumpet King Zeal Onyia Returns’ is a recording bursting with joie de vivre, romance and positive energy. Afro-Cuban flavours sit alongside traditional village drumming patterns, even a dreamlike waltz (‘Nnata Na Aso Uso’). I can usually find the words when describing a record for review but listening to this LP, feeling is all, a deep satisfaction in hearing a perfect recording, the delight in discovering. This is a triumph.
Released on June 14th 2019 on Double vinyl / CD / Digital on BBE
PRE-ORDER / BUY HERE - https://www.bbemusic.com/downloads/trumpet-king-zeal-onyia-returns/