Ghanaian Drum Master Yacub Addy meets the Great Wynton Marsalis at “Congo Square” in New Orleans

In Africa, Americas (North), Music, Music Monday, World News on May 25, 2010 at 3:35 pm

On April 23, 2006 a historic new composition was premiered in New Orleans – “Congo Square”, co-written by Ghanaian drum master Yacub Addy and Wynton Marsalis. Presented in historic Congo Square for a wildly enthusiastic crowd, it was intended by it’s creators as spiritual support for the Crescent City’s recovery from the ravages of Katrina. The ground-breaking work, which combines Ghanaian percussion and vocals with jazz forms, was performed by Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and Yacub Addy and Odadaa!. Part of the opening selection is currently being used by HBO in it’s promo for the new series “Treme”.

The historic Congo Square is the only place in America where African slaves were allowed to perform their own music and dance in the 1700s-1800s. It established the roots of American music by providing a means for African music to enter and mingle with American forms.

An exceptional ensemble of artists from Ghana, Odadaa! includes drummers, instrumentalists, singers and dancers of the Ga ethnic group, and a single American-born singer.

Odadaa!’s founder and leader is the irrepressible elder Ga drum master Yacub Addy, a hip and cosmopolitan traditionalist who bucked the status quo to live a life of culture. A drummer, composer and choreographer, Yacub is a master of traditional classics of the Ga people and creator of new works rooted in tradition.

Yacub is senior among the renowned Addy family of drummers from Accra, Ghana, the elder brother of Obo Addy and Mustapha Tettey Addy, the uncle of Aja Addy any many others.

Yacub was the first to stage genuinely traditional music and dance in Ghana in the 1950s. Determined to present his tradition on the world’s stages, his art took him from Ghana to Europe and America, where he created the acclaimed performance ensemble Odadaa!, described by the New York Times as an “irresistible, hypnotically charged, earthy and stately treasure.”

Addys work preserves and advances the vibrant musical and movement heritage of Ghana– it is the power of ancient rhythm breathing new life into the 21st century.

Also a respected educator, Yacub Addy lectures in the Music Department at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Credits: “Congo Square” was co-composed by Wynton Marsalis and Ghanaian drum master Yacub Addy. It was performed by Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and Yacub Addy & Odadaa!. It was produced by Jazz at Lincoln Center. © Jazz at Lincoln Center 2006.
Edited by Amina Addy and Steve Dinyer.

Yacub Addy:
“Congo Square”:

Click here to read a previous aplaceforpeace post about Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.


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