London has long been a hotbed for experimentation for music from West Africa, and it’s into this global-local story that we can situate London’s newest afrobeat innovators: Kokoroko. In the 40’s World War Two veteran Ambrose Campbell and his West African Rhythm Brothers, were enticing Soho music lovers with sweet palm wine sounds. The following decade, a young Fela Kuti (and his Koola Lobitos outfit with drummer Tony Allen), would jam with Campbell, and the seeds for his global Afrobeat revolution were sown.
The band’s name is an Urhobo – a Nigerian tribe and language – word meaning ‘be strong’. Sonically living up to their name, Kokoroko are an all star band featuring leading lights from the London jazz community. Powered by seismic horn section (Maurice Grey, saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi, trombonist Richie Seivewright), guitar (Oscar Jerome), keys (Yohan Kebede), drums (Ayo Salawu) and percussion (Onome Edgeworth); Kokoroko are on a mission to fashion new languages using the medium of afrobeat.