CNIRBS, this is the name of a Jazzband from Hamburg, composed of the keyboarder and composer Matthäus Winnitzki, the drummer Konrad Ullrich and the euphonist and trumpeter Stephan Meinberg. In collaboration with the Goethe-Institut München, CNIRBS toured with their new album ‘Hey Kollege’ through the African continent for 3 weeks. After shows in Maputo/Mozambique, Antananarivo/Madagascar, Johannesburg/South Africa and Kigali/Rwanda they presented their musical arrangements in Kampala, whereby some songs were fused with the input of the Ugandan musicians Joel Sebunjo and Lawrence Okello. This was followed by performances in Nairobi/Kenya and Addis Ababa/Ethiopia.
A one day workshop with the two Ugandan musicians preceded their show on 15th October 2014 at the National Theatre. The five musicians used the collaboration at the Pearl Rhythm Studio in Mengo to prepare the next day’s joint concert, in which traditional African instruments and the distinctive Jazz sound of CNIRBS were brought together.
Joel Sebunjo is a Ugandan singer and instrumentalist, who plays very successful the local Endongo and Endere, but especially the West African Kora. The young artist is known far beyond national borders and was already on stage with great musicians like Yossou N’dour, Salif Keita and Miriam Makeba. Lawrence Okello is a professional percussionist and multi-instrumentalist. From 1997 till 2012, Okello was part of the famous Ndere Troup, whereupon he became the musical director of Sosolya Ugundu Dance Academy in 2013. He has also performed on large stages and internationally.
Although the musicians didn’t know each other their musical background and skills nourished the common jam session, which led to a fruitful cooperation. The symbiosis of the different music styles resulted in an experimental and unique sound. At the end of the workshop they created four songs being a fusion of their music and which have been put together out of two CNIRBS songs and each one song of Okello and Sebunjo.
In the first half of the concert CNIRBS performed the songs Segou, Murray Bozinski, Pioselinka Dla, Multiple Pain and Palinka Polkapop of their current album. After a short break, Joel Sebunjo and Lawrence Okello joined CNIRBS on stage and they performed the four songs which arose during the workshop. Among others they played the song Kyandi from Lawrence Okello, which has become through the vocals of Okello, the jazz sound of CNIRBS and the Endongo of Sebunjo an experimental composition. The song tells the story of a boy, who can’t marry because of his financial situation. This results in a humorous demand to work hard so that he can marry his love one day.
The song Disco Girl, of the CNIRBS album ‘Hey Kollege’ with the powerful vocals by Joel Sebunjo and the flute by Lawrence Okello became an extraordinary experience which caught the audience in the well-filled auditorium. This was followed by two other songs which demonstrated also the intensive and creative collaboration of the artists and which were rewarded with great applause from the audience.
The workshop and the concert were a big success for the musicians, organizer and the audience. Many thanks goes at this point to the Goethe-Institut in Munich, which made this musical adventure possible.
by Sarah Schmoll