Peter Somuah: Letter To The Universe

Ghanaian trumpeter moves the Miles Davis legacy along, mixing Miles' styles with Ashanti 6/8 rhythm patterns, slam poetry and Fra Fra music


It often feels like lazy reviewing to mention the influence of Miles Davis on anyone who just happens to play the trumpet and sounds a bit like him. However, in the case of young Ghanaian Peter Somuah the reference is fully justified.

Somuah had played the trumpet since the age of 14, and his interest in Davis was fired when a friend gave him a video of the legendary trumpeter. From there, Somuah explored all aspects of the Davis back-catalogue and also studied the work of Freddie Hubbard and Roy Hargrove. The result? A quest to see the connections between Ghana and modern jazz.

Letter To The Universe – a layered, thoughtful and very mature work for such a young performer and composer – explores the connections between different musical cultures. “Afropean” music, based on Somuah’s experiences of living in Benelux, rubs along with Ashanti 6/8 rhythm patterns, slam poetry and Fra Fra music from northern Ghana.

The influence of Davis from his Bitches Brew phase is present on Mission On Earth with its glistening electronics supporting some fiery horn playing. The mix of influences is shaped with confidence and some assured performances, showing what a combination of youth, talent and inspiration from a past master can deliver that sounds fresh and exciting.

To wind things down, the album draws to a satisfying conclusion with a simple theme Odo, based on Ghanaian highlife music. Somuah swaps trumpet for guitar to pick out the simple melody to accompany his own vocals in a nod to the culture that has helped to shape a young musician clearly going places.

The Universe; Mission On Earth; Soft Touch; Green Path; Moonlight; Raindrops; A Thought Of You; The Sky; Thankful; Reincarnation; Inner Peace; Odo (40.03)
Somuah (t, g, v); Jesse Schilderink (ts); Anton du Bruin (kyb); Marijn van de Ven (b, elb); Danny Rombout (cga, bells, shakers, djembe); Thomas Nii Lantey (Botchway dundun, banana bell, talking drum); Lisette Ma Neze, Latanya Alberto, Gyedu Blay Ambolley, Stevo Atambire, Lydia Stavraki, Inda Duran (v); Celeste Engel, Luna Hallenga (vn); Daniela Rivera (vla); Jasper Den Hond (clo). Wedgeview Studios, Netherlands. No date given.
ACT 9969-2