Album Review

Calabar Itu Road: Groovy Sounds From SE Nigeria [coll] – [Comb & Razor Sound

aarbor   11/30/2022   CD, International

When most people think about Nigerian music, the first thing that comes to mind is Lagos—the country’s main commercial center, and the musical luminaries such as Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade and others. Nigeria has other interesting music: Igbo highlife and rock bands of the east-central region, Edo roots rhythms from the midwest, and the keening, ornamented Fulani melodies of the north.

The least known is the music of the south eastern land of the Efik and Ibibio ethnic groups in Cross River and Akwa Ibom State—the region colloquially referred to as “Calabar.” This region was one of the earliest outposts of Nigerian popular music. Its rhythms traveled across the Atlantic during the slave trade to provide the part of the foundation for Afro-Cuban grooves that would go on to influence the development of jazz, rock & roll, R&B and funk. This is 15 tracks recorded between 1972 and 1982, spotlighting rare music from “Calabar” superstars such as Etubom Rex Williams [14], Cross River Nationale [2], Charles “Effi” Duke [8], The Doves [10] and Mary Afi Usuah [11]. Most tracks are upbeat, dancey, excellent playing, and do not have English lyrics. AArbor

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