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Wolo So

A 7 track afro-cuban jazz album (45m 48s) — released July 30th 2021 on Jazz re:freshed

Led by composer/arranger and leading UK-based Djembe player, Yahael Camara Onono and featuring members of bands including Kokoroko and SEED Ensemble, Balimaya Project intently synthesise and bridge London's bustling jazz circuit with traditional repertoire and folklore of the Mandé peoples of West Africa, and in turn connect the music's contemporary and ancestral forebears.

Their album Wolo So arrives after five years in the making, yet its roots chart a young percussionist forging a deeper musical identity from even further back.

Meaning 'the essence of kinship' in Mandé's Maninka language, the word Balimaya articulates a family model not limited to blood relations but of a shared history and experience, of friendship and community, a concept at the heart of Camara Onono's vision for the 16-piece group, declaring that "it's become a brotherhood."

Like Fela's Egypt 80 or Sun Ra's Arkestra before them, Balimaya Project are a big band unlike any other. Made up of members from across the UK's landscape of Afrobeats and jazz to UK Rap, the idea was to create a fuller sound with many instruments that are used for traditional music.

Camara Onono's vision on this project has been to bring together and make emotionally available to each other, young black men in the diaspora and celebrate them in a way that doesn't happen enough. He has brought together people who understand the music of black Britain and of the African continent.

Having performed himself with Family Atlantica and Maisha, Camara Onono has recruited musicians including Godwin Sonzé (Young T & Bugsey, Juls and Wande Coal) and Moses Olukayode (who performed at Burna Boy's Grammy Awards performance 2021).

Supported by Mojo, Jamz Supernova (BBC 6 Music), Musica Macondo, Jez Nelson (Jazz FM), Robert Elms (BBC Radio London), Gideon Coe, Gilles Peterson, Cerys Matthews (BBC 6 Music) and many more, Wolo So is released on the Jazz re:freshed label.

The flowing assurance of the great Malian and Senegalese bands of the 1970s - Francis Gooding The Wire

A deeply satisfying mix of folk rhythms from the Mandé people with Fela Kuti-referencing horn lines and jazz improvisations - Ammar Kalia The Guardian

This is righteous uplifting music! - Gilles Peterson BBC 6 Music

...What a combination of musicians...the build and the energy unleashed. - John Warr Afrobase

If comparisons to Fela Kuti's Africa 70 or Egypt 80 are unavoidable, they're also apt - Balimaya Project are primed to slay all-comers in a festival setting **** - Mojo

If you like driving, percussive, upbeat, infectious energy, I certainly do... - Ravi Coltrane J to Z BBC Radio

There's a compelling Afrojazz feel to 'Soninka/Patronba' from Balimaya Project's Wolo So that is definitely worth getting familiar with as soon as possible - Marlbank

...music that is performed to perfection at a very high level. - Jan Vranken Maxazine

Balimaya [is] impossible to ignore - Jane Cornwell Songlines

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