Thursday, September 20 – 26, 2007
Dela celebrates Amo’s atenteben
By: NII LARYEA KORLEY
WHETHER the late Ephraim Amu foresaw that transforming the atenteben flute from a transverse instrument into a vertical one could enhance the abilities of intrepid players or not, that’s what is happening now.
A new breed of atenteben players are whipping our amazing things from the notched bamboo instrument and one of them, Dela Botri, launched his latest collection of works at the Du Bois Centre in Accra last week.
Titled Tabeyiriba, the 10-track instrumental album is essentially a celebration of the atenteben and its flexibility in contemporary settings. It is Dela’s third solo album. “I just want to show that the atenteben is not an instrument to be ignored”, he says. “It can do so much in capable hands”.
A lot of live music was on offer at the launch. Guoda Music and World Wonder Sounds as well as Hewale Sounds, led by Dela, got the audience dancing at various stages of the programme which was interspersed with brief speeches.
Ms. Dehab Ghebreab, Cultural Affairs Officer of the American Embassy talked of the fruitful, mutual links between the Embassy and Dela Botri’s group and recounted occasions on which they had provided music for official embassy functions. She said the group always delights and springs surprises everytime they play.
Dr. Congo Zabana, a former head of the Music Department at the University of Ghana, Legon praised intercultural approaches to traditional and contemporary styles of music and said Dela handles both ends very well. These are illustrated on Tabeyiriba.
The album kicks off with a rearrangement of Sali Del, a composition by the Malian giant, Salif Keita. S.K. Lobi on xylophone, in the company of bells and other percussion instruments and a guitar sounding like the kora, maintain a constant fast tempo as cushion for Dela to erect his layers of sonorous playing. The arrangements there and on Akan Moods, smack of Dela’s mentor and another atenteben expert Nana Danso Abiam.
There’s a whiff of Amu in the collection with a minute’s flute rendition of his famous Yen Ara Asasi Ni. The late King of Highlife E.T. Mensah is also acknowledged with the inclusion of Dela’s version of a song Mensah wrote to mark our political independence, We Now Have Freedom. The title track as well as Ghana Nyigba and Dwen Omanho are all Dela’s takes on existing compositions. His original pieces on the album are Trema No. I and II, tracks expectedly showing his proficiency on the atenteben.
Highlife Structure appears to have been included in the collection for Erastus Ken to demonstrate his finesse on the guitar. Dela plays no flute at all on the piece and Erastus evokes the approaches of the 1960s highlife bands, playing things especially reminiscent of the late Frank Kwame Croffy of the Black Beats.
It will serve Dela well to repackage the album, which is a beautiful collection making bold forays into African composition and instrumentation, and pay better attention to credits, especially spellings and proper acknowledgement for some composers whose material are included in the collection.
Dignitaries present at the launch included the French Ambassador, Pierre Jacquemort, Eleonore Sylla of the Goethe-Institut and Andre Jaegi, Deputy Head of the Swiss Embassy. Ms. Dzifa Gomashi auctioned copies of Tabeyiriba at the launch which was sponsored by the Public Affairs Section of US Embassy in Accra, W.E.B. Du Bois Centre, Akosombo Textiles Ltd. Alliance Franciase-Accra and Tuareg Arts.
GRAPHIC SHOWBIZ - Thursday, September 20 – 26, 2007 Page: 10