May 2006

Adam Solomon & Tikisa | Mti Wa Maisha CD Release
May 4, 2006Lula LoungeToronto
Tree of Life takes Root at Lula Lounge
by Anne Vaughan with photos by Roger Humbert
The evening began with the screening of Jambo Kenya, an award-winning one-hour documentary by Lalita Krishna. The director filmed a group of Canadian exchange students whose task while visiting Kenya was to build a school and teach a group of Kenyan children. Turns out the Canadians learned just as much or more than their Kenyan students. Enriched with Adam’s soulful music, the sound track of Jambo Kenya featured a touching rendition of "Jambo Bwana". The film also contains music by Gemini Award winner Amin Bhatia.

Adam Solomon and Tikisa were inspired, engaging and, above all, ‘itching’ to share their music with the world. On hand to help Tikisa celebrate were Pa Joe and Theo Yaw Boakye, some of Solomon’s fellow musicians from the 2005 Juno Award winning collaborative African Guitar Summit.

Adam Solomon

From here, the musician and his band Tikisa took the audience on a musical tour of continental Africa. The pace picked up with the full band sound of “Mwajuma”, one of Solomon’s standards. The rhythms and melodies accompanied by Tikisa’s infectious passion clearly created no alternative for the audience but to get up and dance. From Rhumba Fiesta, Samba and Shock “Shake” Soukous to 6/8 Chakacha, Afro-beat and Reggae-High Life, the audience got to hear and dance to all styles. While all songs stem from the traditional African form, some, such as “Afrobeat / G8”, incorporated the artist’s original lyrics and a call for G8 action on the African AIDS crisis.

Starting out, the audience was treated to “Fiesta Guitar: Kasandra Remembered” a solo guitar instrumental often heard in Toronto’s subway system for which Solomon is renowned.
In addition to the wonderful music, Tikisa’s outstanding quality is its ethnic and musical diversity, hence Mti Wa Maisha (Tree of Life). Band members are of all ages and come from Kenya, Congo, Ghana, Senegal, India, Europe and Canada. Together they wove an African mosaic of sound and dance that screamed out for audience participation, a fiesta — African style. Players were intimately engaged with the audience. Tamsir Seck, who combines talking-drum and masterful Senegalese dance, was hypnotic with his arms outstretched inviting everyone to take part in the celebration. It was no surprise to learn that he previously performed with the National Ballet of Senegal. To further inspire the audience, from time to time the enthusiastic players lined up, danced and refrained in unison to the audience, while at other times they tossed fluorescent wrist bands into the dancing crowd. All band members contributed to vocals with Adam Solomon and Fulani Mutsune on lead. Chester Manoharan performed on bass guitar, Suleiman Juma on keyboards, Nancy Barrett on hand percussion, Walter MacLean on drum kit and Marcus Chonsky on percussion.
Tamsir Seck
All of Tikisa’s musicians demonstrated how traditional African music truly is a celebration of life through their outstanding guitar, percussion, song and dance. No slick, western production values were found here. The masterful African guitar and percussions were spontaneous and unique to the moment, best left to their own. The sound was pure heart and soul, and certainly true to the Lula World Festival commitment of bringing “essential music from around the world” to Toronto audiences.

Now that Adam Solomon and Tikisa’s Mti Wa Maisha (Tree of Life) has taken root, let’s hope that tree will continue to grow so Toronto can expect more wonderful African music from this master guitarist and his band of inspiring musicians from around the world.

Mti Wa Maisha (Tree of Life) is now available at Sam the Record Man and select record stores around Toronto.

We welcome your comments and feedback
Anne Vaughan
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Roger Humbert
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The Live Music Report

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