Gyedu-Blay Ambolley returns with 11th Street, Sekondi in November and it’s the African star’s 12th album since his debut in 1973. The Ghanaian highlife star is a saxophonist, singer and guitarist and his charismatic stage personality and pioneering style have been celebrated by various reissue labels over the years, such as Analog Africa, Mr Bongo and Soundway Records. The artist’s iconic status is also assured having performed alongside Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti and highlife bandleader Ebo Taylor – making him a record collector’s favourite since he was compiled by Miles Cleret on the seminal Ghana Soundz compilation on Soundway in 2002.
Ambolley’s forthcoming LP is named after the area of West Ghana in which he grew up, meaning 11th Street Sekondi reflects on the styles that shaped the musician’s life. Current single Black Woman opens the album, with Ambolley on tenor sax and vocals, with his distinctive flow and rap style instantly recognisable. The Ghanaian is renowned for his ability to fuse rap, highlife, funk, Afrobeat and disco.
The Ghanaian legend’s latest release brings his repertoire full circle, his pride for Ghana runs throughout and his honed talent for mixing highlife with other genres, much like his 1973 debut Simigwa – a highlife classic reissued by Mr Bongo last year. Analog Africa released The Message, a selection of his Afro-funk experiments with electronics from the 1980s.
Ambolley’s experiments and ambition have helped lead the way for innovation in music and he has also sung in English and Fanti languages, both on record and on tour throughout the US and the UK, most recently with his band The Sekondi Band International.
11th Street, Sekondi is out on November 29th on Agogo Records (click below for more). Ambolley is currently on a European tour and will be performing at Le Guess Who? in Utrecht, the Netherlands.