One of my favourite Benn loxo readers, one who is responsible for introducing me to a lot of the music on this site, recently turned me on to Ignace De Souza.
Ignace De Souza is one of the those forgotten greats of West African music who was very influencial in his day. To give you an idea, in the liner notes of an Original Music compilation of his music, John Storm Robers credits De Souza’s track, Ole, as being the first afrobeat recording.
Originally from Benin, De Souza got his first big start when he got a gig playing sax with Alfa Jazz, who John Collins credits as being the first professional dance band in Benin. In later years De Souza moved to Ghana and played with several groups before forming his own. By the mid-60s, De Souza and Black Santiagos had become quite popular and began introducing Congo music to Ghana.
While a lot of the music on this Original Music comp sound pretty much like what you’d expect from the time and place they were recorded, there are several stand-out tracks. Two come to mind: Asaw Fofor for a 1960s chase scene and Anyenko for laid-back, “protofunk” summer music.
Unfortunately, great things never last. Does anyone know why the Black Santiagos split? Either way, in 1970 De Souza left Ghana before eventually settling in Lagos where he played with the house band at the Ritz Hotel. (I can’t help but associated this last bit with an image of Murph and the Murphtones at a Holiday Inn in the film The Blues Brothers.)
ps- you can still buy this album at Stern’s.afrobeat, benin, dance band, ghana, nigeria, original music