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Storyteller: Highlife, Soul & Rock 'N' Roll 1966-2003


Warehouse find, limited stock; originally release in 2003. In his lifetime, Jimi Solanke has been acclaimed as one of Nigeria's finest actors, a teacher, a poet, a TV favorite as a children's storyteller, a club owner and a fine composer, musician and spokesman. He is simply one of the greats of West Africa. This retrospective captures the best of this unique musician's long history. He had fallen in love with music during the golden age of highlife big bands in the '50s and early '60s and was writing songs by the age of 14. When Tunde Osofison, one of the vocalists for legendary highlife bandleader Roy Chicago, introduced a Solanke composition, "Onile-Gogoro," to the band's repertoire, Chicago recorded it and it became one of the most memorable Nigerian highlife hits of the '60s. Music began to feature heavily in his life in 1966, as the emerging sound of '60s Western pop began stamping its mark on West Africa. As Chubby Checker's twist fever gripped the country, Jimi penned the Yoruba-language twist track, "Eje Kajo" and called on the Junkers band to back him. In 1966, Checker came to Nigeria and Jimi and the Junkers toured with him. On his return to Lagos in 1969, Solanke helped to setup and host the infamous Batakoto Club alongside Cream drummer Ginger Baker, also becoming the singer and core member of the house band, IDEK, the most progressive rock group that ever existed in Nigeria. The band featured some of the most talented musicians of the time: saxophonist Isaac Olasubga, later with Fela's Koola Lobitos, guitarist Donald Amechi, who became an original member of Osibisa, percussionist Remi Kabaka and Baker on drums. Arriving in New York in1976, Jimi appeared on Ralph MacDonald's album The Path, formulating a Yoruba vocal chant in one take. Moving to Pasadena and West Hollywood, Jimi joined a group of musicians called the Hogsins, resulting in an album on his own Ase label, Canto De La Santos. "Why Storyteller? Because that is what Jimi is. A brilliant actor, talented and emotive singer, arranger and a respector of traditions. A passionate man, who cares about his roots, a gentle giant and a Nigerian icon." -- Kayode Samuel