Steel pan speaks to kora
On BEAT, the Kora and the Steel Pan meet for the first time to talk to each other. Bravo plays to the kora of Sekou Keita and Jo Jo Yates. The steel pan was born out of poverty, out of struggle and beats a direct link in the chain back to Africa, to the Kora. They speak the same language.
Sonny Akpan - Master Drummer
BEAT is also a fusion of African skin drums and the steel pan as Bravo plays alongside one of Africa's master drummers, Sonny Akpan. Sonny Akpan's style on the Congas is from Eastern Nigeria, a region of around 50 languages or tribal groups. Each area has its own style of rhythms.
Sonny is from Iquaibom, which is well known for its exciting traditional high life music. Bravo has played with him for many years, "He mixes Merengue from Cameroon and Zaire and crosses it over into Nigerian 6/8 beat, it's fused into a modern context, giving him a style all of his own. Eddy Grant would just leave him on stage for ten minutes to solo."
Shango and Warrior Rhythms
Sonny stirs up the devil dance from Nigeria. The Nigerian Jembes knew how to play out deep roots Shango, driving people to catchin' power and falling down. The hold of Shango went across the oceans, with the slaves, from Africa to the Caribbean and Latin America. It was to underpin all rhythms - from Cha-Cha-Cha to Reggae, from Samba to Soca. Bravo first banged out the Jab Jab beat on old petrol drums with his village elders.
The rapid, restructured grooves on BEAT are warrior rhythms, fast moving, driving, a direct link through from Fela to Funk to James Brown in Sex Machine and on to source Rock n' Roll.
A Rare Understanding
From his time in Steel n' Skin, Bravo learnt from working with traditional African drummers and dancers. Sonny points out his awareness of their indigenous beat, patterns and timing: "Other pan players and Caribbean musicians can understand it, but only in part, as it's passed down through Calypso, Soca and Jazz. But Bravo can lock it up with me, he holds it, he knows the language and that's rare. With the Kora again - the dialogue is there. Sekou and Jo Jo use the 6/8 and 5/4 rhythms which underpin the West African beats."
From Waltz to Ol' Kaiso
At the heart of the album lies the steel pan, the music of the ruffian and rebel one moment, catching the sweet dance vibe of ol'Kaiso the next.
BEAT - about the songs:
1. LITTLE VILLAGE SONG
2. SALLOO THAI (ACROSS THE BORDER)
3. GOIN' GOIN' GONE
4. DANCING WITH FRIENDS
5. VOODOO GROOVE
6. AA MONTA (REACHING OUT)
8. BEAT THEM
12. WAILING STEEL
The Musicians on BEAT:
Fimber Bravo - Steel Pan, Bongo, Jun Jun, Djembe, Tongue Drum, Talking Drum and Vocals