Popular Music Band Tutor
Trinity Laban Faculty of Music
King Charles Court
Dele Sosimi stands out as one of the most active musicians currently on the Afrobeat scene worldwide.
Dele’s career began when he joined Fela’s Anikulapo-Kuti’s Egypt 80, where he played keyboards for 7 years (1979-1986). Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was the founder of the style of music known as Afrobeat. The music is a blend of complex but highly danceable funk grooves, Nigerian traditional music (including hi-life), African percussion, underpinning the jazz horns and solos from other instruments, as well as rhythmical singing. Dele was the rhythm keyboard player for Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s Egypt 80 and worked and toured extensively with Fela around the world…
During Fela’s incarceration in 1984, Femi Anikulapo-Kuti – Fela’s son and Dele’s childhood/school friend took over the reins temporarily and led the band Egypt 80. During this period, Dele developed his arranging skills as the musical director of the band. He re-orchestrated and re-arranged for the Egypt 80 and also handled the recruiting and training of new musicians in Egypt 80. Dele played keyboards on the following Fela/Egypt 80 hits, among others Parambulator, Power Show, Original Sufferhead, Customs Check Point, MOP 1 (Movement of the People), Give Me Shit I Give You Shit, Authority Stealing, Army Arrangeement, Government Chicken Boy, ITT (International Thief Thief), and Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense.
In 1986 Dele and Femi left Egypt 80 to form their own band called Femi Anikulapo-Kuti and the Positive Force of which Dele was the musical director and bandleader, he was again responsible for recruiting and training the new band members. He was also the rhythm keyboard player and keyboard soloist. They toured the world extensively and played in several of the major jazz festivals, from Montreux to the North Sea Jazz Festival to the Montreal Jazz festival. They band produced the followin albums – No Cause for Alarm POLYGRAM, NIGERIA,1989, Mind Your Own Business (MELODIE, FRANCE 1991) and Wonder Wonder (TABU/MOTOWN USA, 1995). The Positive Force was also invited to perform at the Jazz Club of Nigeria Festival alongside other renowned musicians like Dizzy Gillespie, Randy Weston, Toshiko Akiosu and Didier Lockwood.
Dele at this time also developed his other musical influences and interests by working and playing with an Afro Jazz Quartet/Quintet and by working in collaboration with a French Bassoon Player called Alex Ouzounoff, to produce a CD titled Made In Nigeria (European music productions 1993) courtesy of the French Cultural Centre, Lagos, Nigeria.
Dele left Femi Anikulapo-Kuti and the Positive Force in December 1995 and moved to London.
In London Dele set about forming a new group, and the resulting projects reflect London’s multicultural environment, with a strong influence of jazz and shades of deep funk and latin music, but all underpinned by the heavy grooves of Afrobeat’s Yoruba rhythm with Dele’s vocals very strongly in the Afrobeat tradition.
In 1996, he started playing as a resident musician in some of the London Nigerian venues, initially playing as a duo, then later on forming Gbedu Resurrection, which he led to several London venues, such as the Africa Centre, (Covent Garden) and The Shrine (then held at the Brixton Fridge). By this time Dele had honed his skills as a composer, singer and entertainer, incorporating the piano into Afrobeat. Dele’s collaborations in this period included working as lead pianist with The African Jazz Explosion All Stars, lead by Claude Deppa and featuring Toni Kofi, Jason Yarde, Byron Wallen, Fayaz Virgi, Jean Tousaint, Thomas Dyani, Harry Brown, Sam Djengue, Francis Fuster to name a few; and also with Lucky Ranku and the African All Stars, lead by the legendary Lucky Ranku and featuring Claude Deppa, Fayaz Virgi, Bukky Leo, Frank Tontoh to name a few.
Following his first solo album Turbulent Times (Eko Star 2002), he was invited to select the tracks for the 3-CD compilation entitled Essential Afrobeat (Universal/Family Recordings, 2004). He was producer and co-writer of Calabash Volume 1: Afrobeat Poems by Ikwunga, the Afrobeat Poet (Rebisihut 2004). He is a central member of the Wahala Project, whose single Wahala appears on Puma’s 2006 Soccer World Cup Compilation CD (Wea/Beacuse 2006). He has also featured on British rapper TY’s recent album Closer (on the track Sweating for your Salary Big Dada 2006), and his track Turbulent Times is featured on Nu Afrobeat Experience (Shanachie 2002), Essential Afrobeat (Universal/Family Recordings, 2004) Sound Affects Africa (Paul Oakenfold Remix Malmaison 2005) and Afrobeat Sudan Aid Project (Modiba 2006). The Afrobeat Sudan Aid Project (2006). His new album Identity out on limited edition pre-release (22 June 2007) is in the final stages for Official release in November 2007 (Helico Records).
His live shows are ALWAYS electric, and the crowd response is ALWAYS massive. He has performed all over the world (for example, the Montreux Jazz Festival, Joe Zawinul’s Birdland (Vienna Dele was invited to perform as a guest alongside the late great Joe Zawinul at his Charity Event for survivors of Hurricane Katrina), the Treibhaus (Innsbruck), Paradiso, (Amsterdam), Bimhuis (Amsterdam) Oerol Festival (Terschelling, Holland), the Ollin Kan Festival (Mexico City), Afrikadey! Canada Afrobeat Summit in Calgary, Canada (August 2007), Sensommer Int Musikkfestival 2007 Oslo, Norway (August 2007) and in London (frequent appearances at the Jazz Cafe, The Kemia Bar at Momo’s. The Shrine, and the South Bank Centre (Queen Elizabeth Hall & Purcell Room), to name a few.
Currently based in London, Dele is an educator and instructor in Afrobeat (via his Dele Sosimi Afrobeat Foundation, and as a Visiting Lecturer in Music and Media, London Metropolitan University). Dele performs in one of three formats, each as compelling and funky as the others, a 15-piece Afrobeat Orchestra (featuring a 5-piece horn section and dancers), a 6-9 piece band (the most frequently used format) or a trio/quartet (with bass and drums/percussion.
Sosimi is abetted by a group of musicians, most of whom have either played with him on previous records or have gigged with him on the live circuit. They all have chops to spare and the communication between them is near telepathic. Afrobeat is lovingly given the virtuoso treatment by a combination of Femi Elias, whose Bass growls, twists, turns, pulsates & grooves, Kunle Olofinjana on drums who meshes perfectly with Elias and like a dream machine the groove never lets up. The gear changes are seamless, no accent or punctuation is missed, Phil Dawson who delivers tasty, funky rhythm guitars and some truly exquisite solos from a wide range of angles, again revealing the endless possibilities of what can be done with this music, Maurizio Ravalico on percussion adding colour and The horns – delivered with laser-like precision by Justin Thurgur on Trombone, Tom Allan on Trumpet & Eric Rohner on Tenor Saxophone.