The Ibibio tribe of south-eastern coastal Nigeria have a deep spirit of community and togetherness. They also have a quick and direct way of doing things that has earned them the nickname Ibio-Ibio, meaning brief or short. Saxophonist and composer Camilla George’s third album is an investigation of her cultural roots from a musical standpoint. And it gets straight down to groovy business with no messing around.
George gets a big kick out of mixing African and Western musical styles. Senegalese musician Kadialy Kouyaté features as a guest on Journey Across the Sea. His kora, a stringed instrument common in West Africa, adds a murkier emotional depth to the bouncy track. George’s band of all-star contributors exchange short bursts of improvisation.
Ekpe is a more typical contemporary jazz composition where George flashes the fruits of her impressive academic studies. There are evocations of Charlie Parker in her high notes. Bass, drums and piano collude to reach a dynamic climax. Listeners get a clear message that these musicians are having fun.
Three tracks feature British rapper SANITY and American drummer Daru Jones. The rolling, laidback groove on The Long Juju Slave Route Of Arochokwu is one example. Echo is added to the saxophone sound as it sings a day-dreamy riff and sparse solo. The track has a 90s soul and R&B feeling, with George perhaps enjoying a flashback to the music playing on the radio in her teenage years.
Ibio-Ibio brings together music and musicians from across genres and around the world. George’s saxophone voice is a life-force that binds a diverse mixture of styles and traditions. For an album that strives to reflect and manifest the unity and no-nonsense attitude of the Ibibio people: job done.
Creation – Abasi And Atai; Journey Across The Sea; Ekpe; The Long Juju Slave Route Of Arochokwu; Ukpong; Abasi Enyong; Abasi Isang; Creation – Nnyin Ido Ibibio (39.34)
George (as); Daniel Casimir (elb); Shirley Tetteh (elg); Winston Clifford (d); Sheila Maurice-Grey (t); Rosie Turton (tb); Renato Paris (v); Sarah Tandy (kyb); Kadialy Kouyate (kor); Daru Jones (d); SANITY (v). London, September 2022.