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Blick Bassy at The MFA

Blick Bassy formed his first band in Cameroon at the age of 17. They were called The Jazz Crew and would later develop into Macase, an inventive jazz fusion group inspired by local rhythms with three singers, all singing a different Cameroonian language. It was here that Blick began to reinvigorate Bassa as a language that could be used in modern music, a language that he felt the younger generations should appreciate.

After 10 years of performing with Macase – in which the group toured around Africa and played a number of festivals in Europe – Blick grew frustrated with the lack of infrastructure for an artist in Cameroon and decided to move to Paris. It was there, in 2005, that Blick started his solo career, at first collaborating with a wide range of artists, before eventually releasing his debut album Léman in 2009, and following it up with Hongo Calling in 2011.

His latest album, written and sung by Blick Bassy in Bassa, one of some 260 spoken languages in Cameroon, and accompanied by a unique ensemble of guitar, banjo, cello and trombone, Akö’s eleven original tracks are a musical revelation. Remarkable then, to consider that these are recordings that were never intended for release. Bassy’s original idea was to get together with the cellist Clément Petit and trombonist Fidel Fourneyron to record a few songs in homage to his longtime hero Skip James. By chance, the studio they hired was directly below the offices of Nø Førmat!, the innovative French label run by Laurent Bizot, who happened to hear the results of this unlikely yet inspired musical alchemy/ Encouraged by Bizot to record more, the three musicians emerged from the seven-day session with the makings of an album that amounts to the most personal of Bassy’s career.