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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

William Chapman Nyaho, Kete, Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora

The big wide world out there ever creates music and we are fortunate to live in times when it is possible to explore regions and repertoire we might have not known of a century ago. Some of that we can consider today with the album entitled Kete: Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora (MSR Classics MS 1708), as nicely played by pianist William Chapman Nyaho.

On it we are treated to some 32 piano miniatures, all compiled and published in 2007 by the pianist as the first two volumes of the anthology Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora by Oxford University Press.

We get to hear some lively music from such African composers as Isak Roux from South Africa, Nkeiru Okoye, Joshua Uzoigwe Akin Euba and Christian Onyeji  from Nigeria, Kwabena Nketia and Robert Kwami from Ghana, Halim El-Dabh from Egypt, Andre Bangambula Vindu  from the Congo, Laurindo Almeida from Brazil, Amadeo Roldan Y Gardes from Cuba, Eleanor Alberga from Jamaica, Alain-Pierre Pradel from Guadeloupe, Eleanor Alberga from Jamaica, Robert Nathaniel Dett from Canada/USA, and Ulysses Kay, Hale Smith, Florence Price, Valerie Capers, Wallace Cheatham and John Wesley Work III from the USA.

One as expected will hear some heightened rhythmic excitement and energy, including here and there elements of call and response. There are local influences at play throughout, local Jazz in the South African pieces, perhaps a little Highlife in the West African works, and understandably some Ragtime. Spirituals and Jazz shadings in the USA.

There is plenty to appreciate in the collection, not a great deal of conventional virtuoso display so much as down-to-earth rootedness and brightly energetic engagements. Maestro Nyaho plays all with spirit and commitment. Anyone with an interest in World and African strains in the classical repertoire will appreciate this, as will anyone who simply likes good music.

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