Better known as Dele Sosimi, Nigerian British-born musician Bamidele Olatunbosun Sosimi is far from being a new comer. His name being firmly linked to the raise and maturation of Afrobeat alongside those of Fela Anikulapo Ransome Kuti and Tony Allen. Not to mention Femi Kuti…
Dele Sosimi‘s impressive career started when he joined the Black President’s Egypt 80 as a keyboardist back in 1979 at the age of 26… “I’ve learnt the lines and told Fela I could play”, Sosimi explains on Wah Wah 45s label website where he’s due to release his new album.
“Really?”, Fela asked. “Go on then”, he said in that spontaneous way reminding of his meeting with drummer Tony Allen which gave birth to their long time collaboration.
During Fela‘s incarceration in 1984, Olufela Olufemi Anikulapo Kuti (in other words Femi Kuti) – Fela‘s son and Dele‘s childhood/school friend – took over the reins. Temporarily leading the band Egypt 80. By that time, Dele developed his arranging skills as the musical director of the band. He re-orchestrated and re-arranged for Egypt 80. He also handled the recruiting and training of new musicians. Eventually playing keyboards on the following Fela/Egypt 80 hits. From ‘Power Show’ to ‘Original Sufferhead’, ‘Customs Check Point’ and ‘MOP 1 (Movement of the People)’. Not to mention ‘Give Me Shit I Give You Shit’ and ‘Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense’ among others [More info…]
“If a melody starts rolling I’ll loop it for a few days then leave it alone. Not in a hurry, let it marinade then switch it on later. If I like it I’ll take it to the band. From then the live experience will go and take it in any direction. I’ve learnt that from Fela. Playing at the Shrine (Fela’s legendary club spot in Lagos, Nigeria) was heaven and can’t be replicated.” (Pete Buckenham / Wah Wah 45s)
Femi and Dele left Egypt 80 to form their own band, Femi Anikulapo-Kuti & the Positive Force. A band speakin’ of which the latter was the musical director and bandleader. Responsible as well for recruiting and training the new band members. He was also the rhythm keyboard player and keyboard soloist. They toured the world extensively and played in several of the major Jazz festivals. From Montreux to the North Sea Jazz Festival and the Montreal Jazz festival.
Back in London where he’s based since 1995, Dele Sosimi seems like a never ending activist. Standing out as one the most active musicians currently on the Afrobeat scene worldwide, he works as an educator and instructor in the genre. A complex blend of funk grooves, Nigerian traditional music, African percussion, Jazz horns and solo parts from other instruments in the footsteps of West Africa born High-Life Jazz. But also as a Visiting Lecturer in Music and Media, London Metropolitan University). He performs in one of three formats, each as compelling and funky as the others. A 15-piece Afrobeat Orchestra (featuring a 5-piece horn section and dancers). A 6-9 piece band (the most frequently used format). If not a trio/quartet (with bass and drums/percussion).
In 1996, he started playing as a resident musician in some of the London Nigerian venues. Initially playing as a duo, then later on forming Gbedu Resurrection, which he led to several London venues, such as the Africa Centre, (Covent Garden) and The Shrine (then held at the Brixton Fridge). By that time Dele Sosimi had honed his skills as a composer, singer and entertainer. Incorporating the piano into Afrobeat. And multiplying the live and recording collaborations with countless artists. When not recording on his own banner…
The coming weeks should see the man’s name comin’ on many new lips. From his collaboration with one half of Brit-House production unit The Jinks, Dan Savidge, resulting in the boiling hot ‘TMI (Too Much Information)’ which DJ Spen licensed on his Quantize Recordings stable. To his presence among many other luminaries such as Hugh Masekela on Ralf GUM ‘s ‘In My City’ new album. Not to mention a new album of his due to see the light some time in 2015. A first taster of which – ‘Sanctuary’ – is set to see the light on Nov. 11, 2014 on Wah Wah 45s.
Interview – Dele Sosimi: Afrobeat rising!