Lush vocal harmonies over smooth, danceable beats have made the sweet benga sounds of BANA KADORI a mainstay on the Kenyan music scene for almost 30 years. Formed in 1979 as a backing band for the legendary Ochieng Kabasseleh, the “Band of the Children of Dori” has spent decades fine tuning their own intoxicating blend of Luo benga and Congolese rumba – a sound that exhilarated audiences on the group’s first US tour in August and September of 2007. It was toward the end of this summer sojourn that BANA KADORI hooked up with Kanyo’s own Nyathi Otenga Flying Studios in a basement in Bethlehem, PA to document their latest collection of sonic confections.
The result is Agwambo – a 74-minute powerhouse built from the rolling rhythms and memorable melodies that have won BANA KADORI the hearts of music fans from Nairobi to New York. From the confident strut of “Alwalla Ja Kadel” to the laid-back swing of “Ochot Mayaka”, Agwambo finds the group at the height of its powers – and nowhere is this mastery more audible than on the album’s exceptional title track. Here, BANA KADORI expresses their support for Raila “Agwambo” Odinga, a leading candidate in Kenya’s upcoming general election. Over a traditional rhythm, the group urges Kenyans of all backgrounds to unite at the polls and vote to reverse decades of corruption. This optimism can be heard in the song’s playful bassline and chiming guitars and, while BANA KADORI’s is not the first musical homage to Raila Odinga, it is certainly the most charming.
BANA KADORI is a group that has definitely secured its place in the history of benga, all whilst keeping an eye trained toward the future. Kanyo is pleased to present their latest work, though, with Agwambo, we’re sure the pleasure will be all yours!