The Olatuja Project’s “The Promise” Fulfills a Vision (or Two)
Jazz, gospel, soul and traditional African sounds mix happily on husband-and-wife team’s uplifting debut collaboration
The word promise holds many meanings, all of them profoundly important to our lives. We promise to do our best, we promise to pay our debts and to take care of one another. We promise to keep our promises and we take offense when others don’t. And then there’s the more intangible promise that looks to the future with hope and anticipation: a gifted student or athlete who holds so much promise. We even say an artist’s next work promises to be even better than the last one! Both definitions of promise are bound to faith and trust. Both are something that we hold dear.
The Promise is the ideal title for the new release from the Olatuja Project, the first recorded collaboration between Michael Olatuja (acoustic/electric bassist and composer), his wife Alicia Olatuja (vocalist/composer) and their virtuoso band. It fulfills the promises suggested by Michael’s 2009 debut, Speak, named the R&B Album of the Year at the 9th Annual Independent Music Awards and given a rave review by the BBC’s music website, which called it “the expression of a singular creative voice that taps all the cultures from which it is born.”
But even more than that, The Promise (World Tune Records) fulfills the couple’s collective vision to create music that fuses such traditional elements of African music as the Yoruba tongue, the talking drum and call-and-response vocals with the familiar Western languages of contemporary jazz, traditional gospel, R&B, neo-soul and a funky groove.
The Promise, produced by Michael and Alicia, takes the musical stew, Speak, to the next level, expanding on the earlier album’s rich sonic and lyrical tapestry. Its 10 tracks are inspirational and stirring, imbued with multiple, diverse colors and ambiances, abounding with a vast variety of textures and tales. As Michael says, “The songs flow like a single story,” and that story defines the special, personal and artistic world inhabited by the Olatujas.
released March 8, 2011
Alicia Olatuja>lead & backing vocals
Michael Olatuja>Acoustic bass & electric bass
Oli Rockberger >piano, Fender Rhodes
Etienne Stadwijk>keyboards [ATN]
Femi Temowo> Acoustic & electric guitars
Kofo Wonder>talking drum (Gan Gan)
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