Monday, August 13, 2012

Music Africa presents Fojeba at the Gladstone

Music Africa presents Fojeba at the Gladstone

6 February 2012 No Comments
Presented by Music Africa for Gladstone’s African Liberation Month
February 3 – the Melody Bar at the Gladstone Hotel
Featuring David Woodhead on bass, Walter Maclean on drums, David Maclean on guitar and Wayne Brewer on sax.
By Anya Wassenberg

The stylish new décor of the Melody Bar was about filled to capacity by the middle of Fojeba’s first set on Friday night, with people taking to their feet on the dance floor during the sound check – never mind the first song. Passers-by were lured in from the sidewalk by the shimmering guitars and compelling polyrhythms, joining the laid back crowd.

A native of Cameroon, Jean-Baptiste Foaleng, aka Fojeba, takes the hip shaking roots music of central Africa and adds a jazzy sophistication for dance inducing results. You can hear the outlines of various types of Cameroonian and central African music in Fojeba’s original songs, including makossa, a rhythmic musical style akin to soukous with the addition of the sax, and zouk, a bouncy dance style that originated in the Caribbean and again melds with singing soukous guitars in its African version.

The crisp, sure drum work of Walter Maclean underpins the complex interplay of melody and rhythm. Each instrument plays its own different melodic line, all of them woven into a tightly knit pattern. Bass solos were as melodic and compelling as those of the talented young guitarist, David Maclean or sax player Wayne Brewer, with Fojeba providing lead guitar and smooth vocals.  Whether you understand their roots or not, his songs have a spontaneous and undeniable kind of appeal.

He sings in French, Bamiléké (a language of Cameroon), Lingala (a language of Congo) and sometimes Pidjin English and writes all his own material, including Au Canada, a song to his adopted land. Some of his lyrics are topical, including songs dedicated to peace and U.S. President Barack Obama, while others are inspired by personal events and memories of Cameroon. He’s been playing in the Toronto area for about the last eight years and began hitting local clubs with a solo act.  Word got around quickly about the talented guitarist and songwriter. “Other musicians came to me and said, ‘We like your music, we’d like to play with you,’” he recalls.  Today he plays with some of the city’s most talented musicians, including David Woodhead, who’s long been a fixture on the roots music circuit. Fojeba’s low key and affable nature no doubt helped secure his place in the local scene.

Fojeba began his second set playing solo, captivating the audience with guitar and voice alone before bringing the rest of the band up to fill the dance floor again. He is currently working on a new CD that he’s hoping to release before the end of the year.

You can also catch him Saturday February 18th at The Music Gallery, where he’ll be performing with dancers and a number of guest musicians.

Free concerts continue for Black History Month Fridays at the Gladstone Hotel (all 9-11pm):
February 10 – Sonia
February 17 – Kush Ensemble Feat. Daniel Nebiat
February 24 – Youth Night with Concept Books, Yusra Khogali, Run’s T, Quabena Maphia & more

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