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Accra Journal: Men Cheers Brass Band

 

Perhaps the most enjoyable two hours I spent in Accra were on the back of a flatbed truck, surrounded by the ebullient players of the Men Cheers Brass Band of Tema.  This procession through the streets of Accra was the kickoff to the 2013 Afro Jazz Festival, a series of concerts presented by Scratch Studios, the Embassy of France and the Alliance Francaise, under the patronage of Teddy Osei (Osibisa) and Hugh Masekela.

Panji Anoff (Eyre)

Panji Anoff (Eyre)

The festival also marked what would have been the 90th birthday of the late Kofi Ghanaba (known to American jazz fans as Guy Warren), an icon of African jazz.  Ghanaba’s widow was present for the concert portion of the evening, at the Alliance Francaise.  But this video captures the spirit of the procession that led up to the formal concert. The musician-laden truck departed from Holy Garden Park, just near Kwame Nkrumah Circle.  It started late, and I was off chatting with young music producers selling music off their laptop when the moment came.  Luckily, I heard the sound of drums just in time to arrive as the truck was pulling away.  You see the cameraman chasing behind in the opening of the video.  I followed him, and without a word spoken, I was pulled aboard.

The voice over you hear comes from producer/maestro Panji Anoff, an important man behind the scenes in all sorts of Ghanaian music over the past 30 years.  We’ll hear much more form Panji in our upcoming Hip Deep productions.  For now, enjoy the Men Cheers Brass Band.  And keep in mind that this brass band tradition is an important ingredient in the development of highlife and Afro funk, the subject of our upcoming Hip Deep in Ghana program.