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CD Review- Abel Mwagha


I’ve been holding back the desire to write or blog about my passion (Jazz) due to a feeling of inadequacy or unpreparedness. While at the same time looking at what is happening within this space (blogger sphere) and how the world has changed with the pervasiveness of the Internet and more importantly the opportunity to have everyone published or at least share their experiences, their perspectives, their ideas and more, is mind blowing. And feeling more than ever before the need for me to contribute or participate within space not in a sense to copy what others have done but rather to use this medium to share my passion for Jazz music.

So here is it:
I kick off with a review of Abel Mwagha debut CD, Kope which means eye lashes in Swahili.

I first came across this Artist through a posting I saw at the Alliance Française notice board announcing his CD Launch, this was sometime last year. I must say my first interaction with that sparked my interest, the thought of a new Jazz artist in the local Jazz scene which by the way is very small (in terms of numbers) and more so a Jazz Guitarist for that matter…away from the more common place saxophone artists…was exciting. I immediately penned it on my calendar as a definite go.
Unfortunately, I must report I missed the show because I had to travel out of town – duty calls my friend.
Anyways, to cut a long story short, fast track into the year 2010… I make a trip down to the Silverbird Music Store to check out what’s new in terms of new releases; new artists in the market (something I always do time to time) and I stumble upon Abel’s Debut CD. I ask one of the lovely ladies down at the store to give me a sneak preview of the CD to see if it’s a worth-while purchase. And, within a few minutes of listening to a few of the tracks, I was blown away by the great guitar work exhibited by Abel. Unfortunately the price wasn’t encouraging, so for the moment it was a pass… I decided I’ll shop around and hopefully see if I can get a bargain at some other store or music outlet.
Then a couple of days as fate would have it Goethe-Institut announced a Jazz Concert (free by the way) show casing none other than Abel Mwagha. This was certainly God sent …
So the concert day was finally upon us, on a Saturday evening in a parked hall … I soaked in a full hour plus, of great live performance by Abel and Band and went away there after with an autographed copy of his CD (KES 500) and at a bargain.
The moral of the story- Patience Pays! 
Wingu La Katembe (Cloud of Catembe)
This is one of the longest tracks within the album.
Here, where he truly does it for me, is when you have a run of pure instrumentals with the lead guitar (Abel fully in control) being accompanied by the drums, bass guitar and the keys without the vocals.
And this has been so beautiful done in this track and I must say, certainly a great way to kick off a debut album.
(Eye Lashes)
This is a socially conscious track talking of how our politicians have indebted our governments to the extent that even the eye lashes (Kope in Swahili) they have are also borrowed.
And in this track Abel does a bit of rap in Swahili with the chorus to the track- good stuff…I can even hear it playing in mind
In this track, Abel takes the Benga sound to a whole new level with the amazing guitar work…In his live performance at the Goethe Institut hall not many of the audience really struck a chord with his music. Which is understandable considering the newness of it and him been fairly unknown in the local scene … but I must say this one got some audience on their feet and dancing to it… - a great climax for a well done album.

This Album is also about some great vocals and they come out so beautifully, well interlaced with the Instrumentals (guitar, drums among others) quite prominently in the following tracks:
Sing Along – Lead Vocals by Tasha
Hypnotic Love –Lead Vocals by Nelma and Bruno

And a whole lot more please go grab yourself a copy …I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I did…


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