Gyedu-Blay Ambolley – 11th Street, Sekondi

What can we say about 72-year-old Gyedu-Blay Ambolley? His latest effort on Agogo Records, 11th Street, Sekondi, sports a photo of the very house in Ghana he was born in. This latest release, which mixes highlife, Afro-funk, disco, and rap, is a feather in the cap of this man’s storied musical history. The singer/ saxophone player gets down hard on his thirty-first record (which debuted in 1973) and his signature Simigwa style. His saxophone led the charge when highlife took over from quickstep and foxtrot parties the English colonists hosted in the late 1940s, and when Ambolley and his close friend Ebo Taylor played together, they’d go on to make African musical history. By the time his solo debut record showed up in ’73, he was putting together funk, disco, highlife, blues, and early disco into his original sound. In fact, his spoken word rap was a six years before “Rapper’s Delight”, so you know, let that marinate a bit. Recently given a Lifetime Achievement Award from Charles R. Drew University in Los Angeles and an award of recognition from the Ghana Embassy here in Washington, DC for the first-ever, commercially successful rap record, the man is a living legend. As we previously spoke on his storied career in Africa, his music would become a digger’s delight here in the States after a 2002 Ghana Soundz compilation came about from DJ Miles Cleret’s expertise. Records like “Party Time” and “The Sekondi Man” were rediscovered and re-released to new audiences. This also led to the artist performing his sound all over the world, gaining further recognition by music lovers and champions everywhere. Which now leads us to this record, 11th Street, Sekondi. His second record released on the German Agogo Records imprint, it features funky afro-styles, James Brown-like vocals, plus elements of blues, jazz, soul, even comedy all cooked together in a hot, hot stew of musical delights. This record is nine tracks of heat filled lava rocks, funky African music filled with deep heritage and pride for you to shake your body to. If you’re new to the sounds of Gyedu-Blay Ambolley and like it, you’ll be falling down the rabbit hole of 30 more releases to quench that thirst for funky stuff. For now, stream the record on his bandcamp page and order the Lp after the stream.

Get the record here.

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