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King Bruce and the Black Beats
Golden Highlife Classics from the 1950s and 1960s

cd cover Ghana, formerly known as the Gold Coast, has had a long tradition of music from traditional drumming to fusions of African and Western rhythms and sounds. The genre of highlife is well known worldwide as a catchall category for West African music, but has experienced evolutions and offshoots of its sound.

King Bruce is a pillar of the Ghanaian music scene, as a leader, composer, and arranger for many permutations of the Black Beats, and as a mover of the music through most of the 20th century. As the title suggests, this collection represents one of the peaks of highlife, when a positive political situation under Kwame Nkrumah and the cross-fertilization of Latin and American jazz styles created a strong popular music scene in the dancehalls of urban, coastal Ghana.

The music on this CD contains vocals in local language with the rhythmic and brass elements of big band swing and Afro-Cuban jazz. There is a large cast of musicians on sax, trombone, trumpet, bass, bell-like guitar, drums/percussion, and harmonizing vocals. The vibe is upbeat, and evocative of African swells at the nightclub, hopeful about the evening and the future. - Robert Seiden

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