Transport yourself to East Africa without even leaving your comfy couch. Adam Ndaro Solomon has written, composed, performed and produced this lovely new recording. Wakati means “Our Times,” and there are eight fabulous tracks of delicious Kenyan blues that bring you to his homeland in Kenya.
Adam was a part of the African Guitar Summit, a recording and performances by nine musicians, all of African heritage, which won the Juno Award’s 2005 World Music Album of the Year prize. Adam sings in Swahili, English and Mijikenda, and since then, has received three more Juno nominations.
Adam was raised in a village of the traditional Mijikenda tribe, one of the nine tribes of the Kenyan coast. He recalls traditional celebrations and rituals, with much storytelling and singing. His father played guitar and taught his older cousins who ended up teaching Adam after the death of his father. They all played together in their family band, Bana Citoyen. Adam’s young adulthood was a time of much repression and political unrest in Kenya, so in 1992, Adam came to Canada as a refugee. He now lives in Toronto
Now, 30 some odd years later, this album, Wakati, is Adam’s tribute to his culture, life and times. Adam’s Bandcamp page lists 14 previous albums, making Wakati number 15 – an amazing achievement.
Adam, as well as being a superb guitarist, is an environmentalist and activist. His messages of conservation, social justice, peace and global environmentalism ring out loudly here. He writes and sings to bring attention to climate change, inequality, racism, misogyny and war, but says that even though times are tough, there is still hope.
There are lots of Kenyan traditional rhythms flowing through this music as well, and Adam sincerely believes in the healing power such music gives to us all. Here, we have examples of Chakacha, Benga, Faster Benga, Kambaya, Mchechemeko, and Chella. This is a unique sound where African blues are wrapped up in jazz, folk, and pop music, all filtered through a lens of those traditional East African coastal rhythms. These are fun tunes that just make you want to get up and shake your booty, but they also make you think.
It’s a trance-like experience, listening to this music, and you can’t help but get lost in it. Check it out on his website: https://www.adamsolomonlive.ca/.