Thursday, June 17, 2010

Celestine Ukwu

Another Brick Lane find from many years ago. Unusual to see a xylophone player as the leader of a Nigerian guitar band. This LP on the Phonogram label came out in 1975.
Pleasant enough highlife with jazzy tinge the xylophone gives it.

"Celestine Ukwu began his musical career during the 1960's with Michael Ejeagha's Paradise Rhythm Orchestra in Enugu, capital of the former Eastern Region of Nigeria. He left four years later to launch his own band, the Music Royals. Following a hiatus caused by the Biafran war of independence from 1967-70, the Music Royals were resurrected as the Philosophers National, who distinguished themselves with a series of sparkling, subtle highlife releases during the 1970s. Ukwu's signature tune is undoubtedly 1970's "Igede (Pt. 1)," an instrumental piece based on Igbo folklore. Its haunting melody was the basis for the tune "Elozekwana Nwanne Gi" by Enugu chanteuse Nelly Uchendu on her 1978 LP "Aka Bu Eze" (Homzy HCE 012). Ukwu's crowning achievement was arguably 1975's "Ejim Nk'onye," which combined Igbo poetry with passages of instrumental brilliance. Sadly, Ukwu perished in an automobile accident in 1977, depriving Nigerian music of one of its shining stars. Titles in this discography for which there are no track listings are taken from Ronnie Graham's "Sterns/DaCapo Guide to Contemporary African Music."

Celestine Ukwu - Asili

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The best highlife musician who was more interested in using his music as an instrument to preach about the philosophies of life. He did not concern himself much with singing praise songs for the rich - like Oliver DeCoque.