Ricky Na Marafiki- So Simple: The Afro Jazz Album

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So Simple is a progressive and unique album, a mix-bag of jazz sounds and traditional rhythms, in between Mutibo and Lipala music from Western Kenya, and a perfect blend of tunes from the Kenyan coastal region.

The artiste uses Luhya, Swahili and a bit of English to pass across his message. The album is anchored on bass with all tracks written and arranged by Ricky Nanjero.

‘African Sunset’ Ricky’s artistic skills on the bass guitar are evident , the drum-set, horns and the guitar set out the theme of the whole album on this first track. Ricky’s bass guitar has you at the centre of the track together with marvelous work on the drums. ‘Hope’ on the other hand is a laid back slow-tempo tune with a funky bass-line, the band telling us to catch a breath before the artist takes us home on ‘So Simple’ which is heavily laced with rhythms from western Kenya and holds the main theme of the album, with a nice flow and simple lyrics, Ricky gets to singing and does it predominantly in Luhya with a few expressions in English, he talks about his roots, the unmatched traditions and samples some of the nice food from his homeland.

Dufa Mpararo’, is an improvised rendition of a popular Kenyan urban children song; Ricky takes us to his childhood days growing up in Nairobi’s Eastlands sides and the interesting and unforgettable childhood, the lyrics are in Swahili and Sheng (Slang). ‘Rafiki Jam’ is a groovy and lively jam with rusty horns setting the lead for ‘Mama’, balance between tradition Luhya music of lipala, Mutibo and jazz tunes praising the mother figure. Ricky thanks his mother for her caring heart and raising him right for those who don’t understand Luhya. This track gets you out of whatever mood to just boogie; the song is simply about celebrating the mothers.

‘Marobo’ details the impressive percussions layout with horns a display of mastery, lyrics would distort the essence of the mild laid back sounds from the live instruments, the band lets the instruments speak to each other, bringing out the composer’s scope of imagination and the skilled Marafiki band. ‘Savannah Nights’, groove paints the picture of a mellow kind of tune you would have play on a happy night as you unwind with fellow friends appreciating the art form that is Afrojazz and the African nature.

‘Amka’ is a ride to the coastal Mijikenda tradition; the joint brings out a taste of Mwanzele, which is coincidentally the other name for the track. ‘Wheels Of Life’ rolls the album to an end with a nice string-set leaving you begging for more.

This second album from Ricky Na Marafiki, features acts like Steve Munge on the Sax, Mackinlay Mutsembi on the brass section, Mathew Rabala, Abu Muli, Amani Baya on the drums, Mitchel Ongaro(also on vocals), Moody Paul, Jack Muguna and Moody Paul on the guitars. Mike Okinyo, Mwema Nzomo and Patrick Nakaya on the key boards and Justo Asikoye come in on the percussions. The album also features vocals from Priska Ojwang and Maureen Obadha.

Label: Ketebul Studios

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