World Music Wednesday: Kofi Ayivor
A long sought-after Afro-rock gem is re-released, and also remixed.
World Music Wednesday is a new weekly segment on The North 103.3 FM. Every Wednesday at 4pm on Northland Afternoon, we will feature a brand new release or a significantly important past work from our vast library of music from around the world.
Support for World Music Wednesday comes from Simply Ballroom in Duluth's Craft District.
World Music Wednesday this week is both a throwback to earlier days, but also features a new release. We are spotlighting music from Kofi Ayivor, a conga player born in Nigeria, but raised in Denu on the eastern coast of Ghana. As a youth he was trained by his uncle to be a master drummer in the polyrhythmic music traditions of the Ewe culture. He played percussion with several ensembles in the 60s and 70s, including time with highlife legend E.T. Mensah, and Afro-rock supergroup Osibisa.
In 1981, he released a solo album, Kofi, mixing his history with Ghanian highlife music with disco influences that had popular in Africa, Europe and the Americas. As he recalls, "[A]ll this time, especially on Osibisa's United States tour, I began to critically examine the difference between our native African music and the element of it that had been incorporated into popular Western music. And so my search began to find a modern African sound." Album sales, unfortunately, were minimal. But original copies of this album now are highly sought by collectors.
In the summer of 2023, Kalita records re-released two of the songs from that original LP on an EP called Jungle Funk, including "Adzagli (Jungle Funk)," and "A Song for You." But it also includes two new remixes of that pair of songs made by Amsterdam DJ Mendel, adding a contemporary funk vibe to the Afro-disco feel from the original 1981 tracks.