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Adetayo in Yoruba odyssey at Alliance Français

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Adedeji Adetayo


When Adedeji Adetayo returns today for his second concert at the Alliance Français, Ikoyi, it will be another step on his remarkable journey to stardom. He was also at the Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON) Centre, in 2018, for that year’s MUSON festival where he gave a good performance.

Yesterday, he made a triumphant entrance to the house that Mike Adenuga built.

The concerts will kickstart the pre promotional tour of Adetayo’s new album, Yoruba Odyssey.

“With this concert, I’m trying to get back the vibe from where it started,” his voice sounds, excitedly. He smiles. A long pause. He says in a distant tone that seems like his voice has fallen, “we are playing all the music for the concert. After the concert, we will finalise arrangements on my forthcoming album’s release.”

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Adetayo started singing in a church choir in Lagos at the age of six and by the age of 10, the talented singer became the leader of the choir.

From 13 years old, he was already a highly sought studio singer. He recorded and performed with local Nigerian stars such as, Imoleayo, Pasunma, Obesere, Gbenga Adewusi, Sound Sultan and Sammy Okposo.

At 15, he picked up the guitar and three years later he was also working as a professional. He was playing guitar, singing and writing songs for all his music.

When he was 18 years of age, the Ife-born singer took a music theory examination at MUSON Music School and then went to The Polytechnic of Ibadan to study Music Technology and finally continued to study music at The University of Lagos.

It became a short visit, as he was too busy with his professional career. Later on, he graduated from London College of Music with a licentiate in guitar performance and further specialised at The Prins Claus Music Conservatory in The Netherlands with a bachelor in Jazz Music.

In 2006, Adetayo travelled to Greece to perform at the World Music Day and after his return to Nigeria, he relocated a year after to Greece where he spent time performing almost every night, doubling as a singer and guitarist and featured on various albums.

He took music courses at the London College of music where he has degrees in music performance and bachelor’s degree in jazz music at Prins Claus Conservatory Netherlands, where he won the young talent award and performed his song, Erinlakatabu, with the NNO orchestra arranged by Seun Owoaje.

Since then, the gifted musician has recorded and shared stages with Tony Allen (you will hear Adedeji on Allen’s latest album if released Posthumously), Lionel Loueke, Gene Jackson, Lagbaja, Ayo Bankole, Paco Sery, Keziah Jones, Fred Wesley and Fra Fra Sound and he opened concerts for Manu Dibango and Kenny Garret.

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Adetayo’s first studio album was Àjò (the journey). It was recorded in five different countries and featured some of the best players around the world including, the award winning jazz guitarist, Lionel Loueke.

Àjò is an infusion of traditional African style with progressive attitude and modern sound of jazz and funk music, creating a music that is rhythmically and technically broad and harmonically rich, melodically and emotionally compelling.

The album, which featured Loueke, gifted him with The North Netherlands Young Talent Award in 2012. He softens his tone to sketch his career trajectory. “I write music for myself first. If I feel good about it, I will know the direction of the album,” he says.

The composition started in Lagos and part was done in Greece, France and Spain,” he says. “After I launched the album, I did a concert to support it.”

He has performed in a lot of festivals and concerts like Apollo Theatre (Greece), World Music Day (Greece), Documentary Festival (Thessaloniki), African Art Fest (Madrid), Sing out gospel (Germany), Gideon Festival (Netherland), Swinging in Groningen and Kalamata Jazz Festival, Mamajazz festival Lithuania, Enclave De Agua festival Soria Spain to name a few.

“In my career, I have had the privilege of playing with a lot of international artists,” Adetayo breathes, sipping a bottle of bottled water.

He gazes as his band members walk out of the studio, and then at his guest. There’s a deep appreciation. Perhaps, may be, as a veiled confession or as an understated passion. He believes that his career is on the right track.

“The reception of my music has been great in Europe, because music fans and aficionado are always looking forward to something new and fresh,” the artistes says, simply, his eyes seeking out details as he answers his questions: “In Europe, there is no challenge. There hasn’t been any. I do tour with my music in Europe. I perform in Germany, Netherlands, Greece and sometimes in UK.”

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He adds, “there is something about Greece, you find it difficult to get out of the country, because of the environment. The vibe, nature and beauty attract you.”

He glances at his wristwatch, as everywhere is beginning to be glimmer. On the challenge of performing at home, he laments the lack of access. His words: “There are a lot of challenging factors here. You consider the accessibility of this kind of genre. There is not so much access for where people can listen to the sound or stage where they can watch the performances, except if you go to the Shrine. We used to have before in Motherlan, but the place is no more. That’s one of the challenges for us when the album is released. We are hoping it will change. We will tour some schools to do concerts, however.”

His second album, Afreekanism, is a double album, which featured 50 artistes from all over the world. It won him the Best Afro Fusion Artist at LBM Awards in 2017. “I performed at the MUSON Jazz Festival Party in 2018 to promote the album at home,” Adetayo reveals.

Adetayo’s new album, Yoruba Odyssey, “is a project that goes back to the core of my roots. The result is a progressive Jazz-Funk record, influenced with vintage Afrobeats and Yoruba eclectic sounds, that greatly reflects my growing up in the metropolitan city of Lagos.”

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He adds, “the 10-track album educates and entertains. It is a feel good, funky album that chronicles my interpretation of the music and artists that have influenced me.”

From Soul to Jazz, Blues to Funk, you will hear his love for a variety of music geniuses. Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Earth Wind and Fire, Prince, Eddie Harris, George Benson, Joe Zawinul, King Sunny Ade, Fela Kuti, Haruna Ishola, Miles Davis, D’angelo, Prince, Richard Bona, Wes Montgomery, Frank Zappa, Curtis Mayfield as well as the traditional Yoruba music he grew up with.

The album’s tracks include, Oruku (09:00), Olomo Ki Lo (06:12), which is co-composed and arranged with Seun Owoaje; Shyphiliezation (07:50), Music is my Sanctuary with Gary Bartz (09:02), Ojeje (05:35), Lagos Blues (07:57), Ayinla with Sola Akingbola (07:10), Ololufe Mi (05:02), Gbanja by Jossy Friday (10:14) and Ori Ni (06:12) by Haruna Ishola. The total playtime is 73 minutes.

He says, “the artistes who recorded Yoruba Odyssey are all wonderful, giving their best approach to his complex compositions. The lyrics are sung in Yoruba, English and Pidgin English.”

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In the texts, Adetayo, in reigniting with the traditional identity of Yoruba culture, arranges his work in a manner that you would think a year is needed to record.

This group sound effortless and full of energetic joy,” Adetayo points out. “Yoruba Odyssey was recorded in three days in Lagos, at the legendary Afrodisia/Decca Studio, that has housed giants like Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey and many more.”

The album presents authentic and personal ideas with tremendous harmonies and tight arrangements. The nine man band includes some of Nigeria’s best studio musicians, the grooviest rhythm section and a splendid horn section add to the Afro Beat influenced sound together with the beautiful male and female backing vocals, that clearly has references to his gospel upbringing.

In the album, Adetayo reveals a total control of his generous vocal that effortless swings from high notes to fast, almost hip hop-like recited vocals in the groovy language of Yoruba, and from there to James Brown like rhythmical vocal exclamations, its really hard to sit still. Add to that is his masterful guitar playing with a profound knowledge of both music history as well as masterful technique and then his skillful imagination and openness to the music.

Yoruba Odyssey, produced by ‘Carolina Vallejo will be released by the multi awarded One World Records this year.

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