Stories by Yinka Olatunbosun
One of Nigeria’s finest jazz music exports to the United States of America, OluJazz is returning home with a jazz revolution on August 26 in Lagos. OluJazz, who had been performing in Nigeria before relocating to Los Angeles, California will also launch his two albums during the concert scheduled to take place at the Shell Hall, MUSON Centre. The co-headliners for the show include Wole Oni, Tim Godfrey, Ranti, Lawrence and the Covenant, Onos Ariki and IBK.
OluJazz began his romance with wind instruments in the 90s starting with the trumpet. He demonstrated other multi-instrumental skills with his dexterity with the drums, clarinet, flutes amongst others. In 2003, he started playing saxophone.
“I had already understood from childhood that I was going to be a saxophonist. but there was no saxophone around then. Those in music shops were very expensive and I could not afford it,’’ he told THISDAY.
Fortunately, he met some people who assisted him. He enrolled at the Peter King School of Music in Badagry, Lagos where he learnt to play the saxophone. He would practice for three hours every day for about six years.
Eventually, he left Nigeria for the US and studied more about the saxophone for another two years.
OluJazz had been dubbed a talkative on the saxophone by the comedian, Kofi for his peculiar way of playing the instrument.
“He likened it to the way a saxophonist would speak in tongues,” he explained. “He said I couldn’t be calling myself OluSax anymore because of the way I performed which he observed to be deep so he called me OluJazz D’ SaxTalkative.”
His homecoming concert is to show that Jazz can have a cross-over appeal regardless of where it is performed.
“It promises to be a sold-out show as everyone that matters in the society will grace the show. Government officials, politicians and corporate big-wigs. We are hoping to make it an annual event,’’ he disclosed.
For the three-hour show, which will be preceded by a cocktail at sundown, OluJazz will collaborate with other musicians from the urban music category.
OluJazz, who hails from Kogi State, has performed at Santiago Jazz Festival, Chile and California. He has had music tours in countries like France, Germany, Ethiopia, Canada, Brazil and Puerto Rico sharing the stage with music legends such as Gerald Albright, Richard Bona, Kenny G, Hugh Masekela as well as Nigeria’s Omawunmi and Tiwa Savage.
Though away from the Nigerian music scene for a while, he had kept tabs on the development and is quite impressed with the quality of music productions by Nigerian music artistes. But as regards the predominant lyrics of popular music, he has his own preference, with no apologies.
“I am a moralist. I don’t play music that are out of the norms. I am a gospel musician and a minister of God. Souls are not won in the church alone. We have to go to the hood and win souls. Some people are criticized gospel musicians who feature secular musicians in their songs. To me, I don’t see anything that is wrong with that as long as the artist is pure in heart.”
His assessment of the cross-cultural music variations across the borders had taught him a few things about the rich African cultural heritage.
“Every European music actually comes from Africa,” he claimed, citing the variations in different genres. This music thorough-bred is arguably one of the most influential contemporary jazz musicians from Nigeria.