9 Songs, 1 Hour 4 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Ian Eagleson first heard benga music in 1995 and was fascinated with the infectious, guitar-driven dance style and its basis in traditional Kenyan music. In 2004, Eagleson and his D.C. cohort Alex Minoff joined forces with singer and guitarist Otieno Jagwasi and drummer Onyango Wuod Omari, recording their debut, OK-Oyot System, at a semi-outdoor Nairobi nightclub. Sadly, Jagwasi passed away from HIV-related illness, but the well-respected (in benga circles) Opiyo Bilongo was asked to replace him, and Bilongo’s iridescent lead-guitar lines highlight this brilliant, exciting follow-up, recorded in a remote area of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. The opening “Jakolando” boasts the bright, chiming electric guitar that distinguishes so many dialects of African pop. The ebullient “Street Parade” leans heavily on American R&B (complete with second-line rhythms), while “Night Runners” best fuses the Kenyan and American elements in a delectable blend of traditional Luo chants and Shuggie Otis-style psychedelic soul.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Ian Eagleson first heard benga music in 1995 and was fascinated with the infectious, guitar-driven dance style and its basis in traditional Kenyan music. In 2004, Eagleson and his D.C. cohort Alex Minoff joined forces with singer and guitarist Otieno Jagwasi and drummer Onyango Wuod Omari, recording their debut, OK-Oyot System, at a semi-outdoor Nairobi nightclub. Sadly, Jagwasi passed away from HIV-related illness, but the well-respected (in benga circles) Opiyo Bilongo was asked to replace him, and Bilongo’s iridescent lead-guitar lines highlight this brilliant, exciting follow-up, recorded in a remote area of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. The opening “Jakolando” boasts the bright, chiming electric guitar that distinguishes so many dialects of African pop. The ebullient “Street Parade” leans heavily on American R&B (complete with second-line rhythms), while “Night Runners” best fuses the Kenyan and American elements in a delectable blend of traditional Luo chants and Shuggie Otis-style psychedelic soul.

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