Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe is a legendary figure in Nigeria as one of the most popular proponents of the African horns-&-guitars genre known as Highlife, but is virtually unknown outside of Africa & African music circles. Sound Time, a compilation of his music spanning the years 1970-85, should go a long way towards changing that.
This collection, aside from being some of the most joyous music I've heard this year, is a shining example of how music of different cultures & times can affect each other. Listening to this album, it's hard not to flash on the African accents of Miles Davis' electric music circa 1974, though Miles probably got that tinge from Highlife music second (or third?) hand. The wah-wah electric guitar recalls Sly & The Family Stone, Funkadelic and other purveyors of The Funk -- in other places, calypso and Spanish influences can be discerned. The trumpet playing makes me think of Mexican mariachi AND the voice-inflected Ellington brassmen like Rex Stewart and Cootie Williams. The bubbling rhythms are those of the ballrooms of Nigeria - this is dance music - yet there's a certain open, loping sound that sounds to me like Country music and its cousin, Western music (i.e., Gene Autry, Marty Robbins). Chief Stephen's voice is soulful like Pops Staples or Richie Havens or Dave Van Ronk, with a slight rasp and judicious use of Arabic/North African melisma. Sound Time is not a dry, pedantic ethnomusicology project - it's joyous, vibrant music that transcends time and ethnicity, a must-hear for those who live & value the concept of a Global Village.