By John Owoo
(In Accra – Ghana)
Legendary Ghanaian musician Gyedu Blay-Ambolley recently turned the stage at the Goethe-Institut in Accra into a musical groove during a virtual performance that forms part of a series dubbed Covid 19 concerts.
Noted for his gratifyingly and lucid singing, his fingers moved with amazing ease and precision on the saxophone as an unruffled mixture of highlife, Afro jazz and other musical genres generously flowed from the stage.
Accompanied by hilarious lyrics, Blay-Ambolley alongside Young Enim (keyboard), Kwesi Arko (bass guitar), Shikome (congas), Kuuku Ansong (trumpet) and Colonel Faat (saxophone), severally and mutually delivered a magical performance that spiraled into the cool night air.
With tunes such us “Ose Yie”, “Amponsah”, “Blue Moon”, “Black Man Dey Suffer”, “Awar Kakra”, “Maplay”, “Adwoa Emissah” (Blay-Ambolley), “Enyidaso” (Kwasi Arko Donkor) and “Round Midnight” (Thelonius Monk), the performance was not only original but largely stimulating and intellectually satisfying.
Through a cool combination of voices, piano, guitars, drums, percussive instruments, two saxophones and an ageless deep voice from Blay-Ambolley, the performers delivered a memorable concert while exhibiting all the elements of musical communication.
He has toured throughout West Africa, Europe, Canada and the United States and has performed on the same stage with some of the world’s most celebrated artistes including Miriam Makeba and the Afro Beat King, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.
Others are George Howard, Angela Bofill, Norman Connors (USA), Manu Debango (Cameroon), Chikuzan Takahashi (Japan), Ricardo Estrada (Cuba), Mayuto Correa (Brazil) and later toured Ghana with Oscar Brashear and Michael Session from the United States.
Owing to the originality of his music, Blay-Ambolley’s performances have left audiences raving and shouting for more as was the case at the world-famous Apollo Theater – New York, USA in 1992.
The celebrated musician has also received several prestigious awards including a Congressional Certificate of Special Recognition by Congresswoman Juanita Millinder McDonald, a lifetime achievement award and was inducted into the music hall of fame by Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in California – all in the USA.
On his return to Ghana from the United States in 1997, he was honored with a standing ovation from former President, Jerry John Rawlings at the Ghana Music Awards.
Goethe-Institut Ghana supported the concert.