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Segun Awe: One Way Ticket

Segun Awe, born dirt-poor in a Nigerian village, has enjoyed a long career as a guitarist and saxophonist in a number of bands, including his large band ensemble Afritonas. Awe now lives amid the bustle of New York, and the title of his current CD suggests he’s there to stay. Like famous South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela, Awe borrows traditional rhythms from his homeland and liberally spices them with infectious and danceable doses of jazz and R&B. His vocals are raw and throaty-that’s a plus-and he recruited New York’s finest as his band. That includes the Burning Brass horn section with smokin’ hot Pamela Fleming, Jenny Hill and Nilda Richards, and a vocal trio of Jason Kuriloff, Mary Womworth and Eve Robinson.

Lyrics are a blend of hope, praise and condemnation of wickedness in Nigerian and English, but the message is secondary to the music. “Akoba (Implication)” is a free-spirited disco jaunt, while “One Way Ticket” is a Blood-Sweat-and-Tears-meets-Paul-Simon’s-Graceland number with feisty call-and-response between Burning Brass and Awe’s funky, ’60s-like guitar sounds.

Originally Published