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Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band (CD/2LP, Strut Records, 2015)

Ben Abarbanel-Wolff is an American saxophonist and composer who lives in Berlin. He has played and recorded with The Poets Of Rhythm, Karl Hector & The Malcouns, The Whitefield Brothers, Franck Biyong, Tony Allen or the Grant Phabao Afrofunk Arkestra. In 2007 he released with his band Afrobeat Academy an album with Fela's guitarist Oghene Kologbo, 'Remember Fela Anikulapo Kuti'. That same band evolved with time and released in 2011 an album with legendary Ghanean guitarist Ebo Taylor, called 'Love and Death', followed in 2012 by 'Appia Kwa Bridge'. Paris DJs co-produced their first ever concert in Europe in 2009… an emotional show just before the recording of the 'Love and Death' album in Berlin, which led to a series of tours culminating in march 2014 at Le New Morning in Paris, where the band achieved an amazing groove machine thang and drove everyone nuts.

Pat Thomas is one of Ghana’s all-time great highlife vocalists, “The Golden Voice Of Africa”. He began his carreer in 1969 with the Broadway Dance Band, leaving a year later to join the Uhuru Dance Band. Then he played with Ebo Taylor's Blue Monks and finally formed the Sweet Beans in 1973. They released 'False Lover' in 1974, then split and-reformed as Marijata, who recorded in 1976 one of the best African Funk albums, 'This Is Marijata'. Flash forward to 2015 and this new studio album recorded in Accra from Pat Thomas and the Kwashibu Area Band, led by multi-instumentalist Kwame Yeboah (Cat Stevens, Patrice) with Ben Abarbanel-Wolff, featuring Ebo Taylor, Tony Allen and a few musicans and the sound engineer from the Afrobeat Academy, among others: this story feels like threads crossing in new ways across time and space…

As soon as the first notes start playing, a warming feeling of beautifulness invades your brain. This is not the kind of record you're gonna skip on quickly. Pat Thomas' vice is indeed a true marvel, backed by some of the finest sounding psychedelic highlife ever. The funky 'Gyae Su' with Ebo Taylor arranging the horns should be a tropical dancefloor burner. The epic 'Me Ho Asem' is Ghanean soul at its purest… Damn! There are so many great records being released out there these days, but this one's for certain is a must-have, smelling like tropical holidays and for sure the most addictive Afro record of the year so far.

Tour dates are currently scheduled for october/november 2015. Can't wait to see that project on stage…

Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band
Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band - Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band
(CD/2LP) Strut Records STRUT126, 2015-06-16

Tracklisting :
01. Mewo Akoma 8:23
02. Gyae Su 4:12
03. Odoo Be Ba 4:54
04. Me Ho Asem 6:32
05. Oye Asem 5:17
06. Odo Adaada 4:03
07. Brebrebre 5:23
08. Amaehu 5:40

Links :
Pat Thomas : discogs | facebook | juno
Kwame Yeboah : discogs | facebook | twitter | wikipedia
Ben Abarbanel-Wolff : official | discogs | facebook | twitter

Press Release :
"I'm an afrobeat drummer but Pat Thomas is highlife. That is what he does so well." -Tony Allen

Strut are proud to announce the brand new studio album by one of Ghana's all-time great vocalists, "The Golden Voice Of Africa", Pat Thomas, in conjunction with the Kwashibu Area Band led by multi-instumentalist Kwame Yeboah (Cat Stevens, Patrice) and saxophonist Ben Abarbanel-Wolff (Ebo Taylor, Poets of Rhythm).

Hailing from Kumasi, Thomas had lived with highlife legend King Onyina from a young age before working with Ebo Taylor in two of Ghana's great 1960s highlife big bands, Broadway Dance Band and Stargazers. They would collaborate regularly, Pat contributing vocals to Ebo's solo albums and Ebo arranging horns for Pat's songs. Both would become a mainstay of the '70s and '80s Ghanaian highlife, afrobeat and afro-pop scenes, hitting big with the Ghana Cocoa Board-sponsored Sweet Beans band. Fela Kuti's bandleader, drummer Tony Allen, would record a session with Sweet Beans in Kumasi in 1975 (as yet unreleased). "Highlife was our music," Pat remembers. "People like Ebo and I modernised it, made it more relevant to our day. We took the Kwa music of Kumasi and other local styles and added Western elements." With his distinctive flowing vocal style, sung in Fanti and Ashanti Twi dialect, Pat became established as one of Ghana's biggest musical draws.

During the '80s, Pat continued to stay close to highlife and, by the middle of the decade, had become the biggest star in the emerging "burger highlife" scene involving recordings produced in Berlin and Hamburg and exported to Ghana. Together with guitarist George Darko, his output added to the rich mix of cultures making the global reach of highlife possible.

Recorded in Accra and mixed at Lovelite Studios' analogue HQ in Berlin, Thomas' new album marks over 50 years making music and reunites him with old friends: Ebo Taylor provides horn arrangements, Tony Allen contributes drums to several tracks, Osei Tutu (Hedzolleh Sounds) plays a memorable trumpet solo and prolific 1970s bassist Ralph Karikari (The Noble Kings) also features. Younger generation stars appearing include bassist Emmanuel Ofori, percussionist "Sunday" Owusu and Pat Thomas' daughter Nanaaya, an acclaimed vocalist in her own right.

The album features new full band arrangements of original '80s Thomas classics 'Gyae Su', 'Odoo Adada' and 'Mewo Akoma'. Abarbanel-Wolff explains: "By the mid-1980s, Ghanaian music had started to use digital production and the heyday of the "golden era" was over. With this album, we wanted to continue the tradition of the late '70s sound and bring the roots back." Kwame Yeboah continues, "We had to create our own buzz, keep the sound totally real - there are no digital, machine or sampled sounds here." - New compositions also feature, including the superb, yearning 'Me Ho Asem' and the infectious afrobeat jam, 'Odoo Be Ba'.

'Pat Thomas and Kwashibu Area Band' is released on June 16th 2015 on CD & LP formats featuring hand-drawn artwork by Lewis Heriz and full sleeve notes.



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