Album Remarks & Appraisals:
"Back when he was growing up in Nigeria, Bukky Leo was spotted practicing his saxophone by the original Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen, who instantly invited Bukky into his band. Bukky went on to play with Fela Kuti and later, Bukky decided to pursue his own distinct style of jazz and Afrobeat.
Bukky became one of the forerunners in the acid jazz scene in London in the 80s and was signed to the A&R Acid Jazz label. His first release, Rejoice in Righteousness, went to number one in the rhythm and blues, dance and jazz charts. His follow up album, River Nile, was nominated for a US African Music Award.
Since the Acid Jazz days, he has toured extensively with the Source band, which recorded a self-titled album on Strut records. In the mid 9Os, Bukky took a pilgrimage to Egypt, which resulted in the formation of Black Egypt, one of the most important Afrobeat groups outside of Nigeria. Bukky is still in demand as a world class saxophonist and is presently touring with the African Jazz All Stars and Tony Allen's Afro-Beat Big Band.
For this recording, Bukky collaborated with Ben Mitchell. They met while Ben was producing The Rapping With The Gods album with legendary Brighton DJ Russ Dewbury. The album featured Bukky on vocals and saxophone on the track "Living Am I Living." Afrobeat Visions took 18 months to produce and features some of the finest Afrobeat and jazz musicians in the world.
"Black Egypt (intro)" starts off with Bukky Leo's spoken word vocals and breaks out into an all out Afrobeat-jazz jam. "Ake Bo Je" is next. The combination of Billie Godphrey's vocals with the call-and-response male voices, Afro-house beats, strings and horns makes this track another rollicking excursion into body-moving bliss. "Don't Go Away" has awesome vocals, a super-funky bass line and slamming percussion, making it an instant dance favorite, probably the best one of the bunch. This one also features an impressive bluesy guitar solo.
Every track on this recording is a winner, but three more of special note are "Why Can't We Live Together," which has a steady afro-house groove and superb vocals, "Dem Go Shout," with an easy groove and tight and bright keyboard solo, and the last track "His Majesty," which has a light, fluid guitar riff with an islandy feel, a stellar saxophone solo and some hard-hitting percussion. These songs will have you bouncing and shaking along with the infectious rhythms and well-composed, solid blend of elements.
This is definitely one CD that will be played over and over again. A must-have classic for any Acid Jazz or Afrobeat fan." -JazzReview
Personnel: Bukky Leo (vocals, flute, saxophone); Billie Godfrey (vocals, background vocals); Justin Thurgur (trombone); Kishon Khan (keyboards); Tony Allen (drums).
Recording information: Can Can Studio.
Arrangers: Kishon Khan; Ben Mitchell.
Bukky Leo began his career in great company, playing with Fela Kuti and Tony Allen; Afro-beat boasts no bigger names. From there he moved into acid jazz, back when people cared about that style, but now he's returned to the style that nurtured him with plenty of modern ideas, bringing in plenty of loops and electronica. In a field where the groove is the key, all the technology could quickly excise the soul of the music, but full marks to Leo, he keeps his sounds fresh and real. The rhythms roar, and his singing becomes a linchpin for everything else. In fact, even with all the additions, this music bears a closer relationship to old U.S. soul than anything now being called R&B. There's plenty to listen to here, and for such a studio concoction, there's a great deal of warmth in it, with grooves that establish and don't quit. Proof -- if you still needed it -- that Afro-beat can be reinvented. ~ Chris Nickson