Ginger Johnson and His African Messengers (Freestyle Records)
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UK release date 30.03.2015
Ginger Johnson finally get the recognition he so rightfully deserves as a pioneer of African music and drumming in Europe. A Nigerian immigrant to London in the late 1940's, he rose swiftly during the big band era of The Edmundo Ros Orchestra and jazz via the Ronnie Scott quintet By the mid 1960's Ginger was the first call Afro-Latin percussionist to book, which is why he played with everyone from Georgie Fame, Quincy Jones through to The Rolling Stones, who he played with live at their eponymous gig in Hyde Park 1969.
Ginger Johnson also figured heavily in nuturing and helping develop a young Fela Kuti, whose Afrobeat invention was surely helped by Ginger. To me "I Jool Omo" is pure afrobeat, which took Tony Allen's know how to figure converting it's myriad of hand drums into one drumbeat, because it's all here! The Afrobeat groove along with flailing horns, this stuff is infectious! (perfected in London!)
If rootsy rhythms are your bag you'll love the primal energy Ginger and his cohorts give off. He must have been one helluva force of nature! Watch out for the full album which Freestyle are planning later on in the year.
Words Emrys Baird