Daniel Owino Misiani

Piny Ose Mer

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Misiani has been a top exponent of benga music since his first recordings in 1967. Keeping a high profile throughout the '70s and '80s, he translated the initial acoustic format of benga to an amplified music by way of a battery of electric guitars, basses, and eventually some electronic drums. As a result, the traditional dance music of western Kenya's Luo people was brought to wider African and international audience. Misiani's brand of benga features a bobbing beat, singing unison guitar lines, deep and complex bass accompaniment, and soft harmony vocals. Some have likened his style to a mix of West African highlife, Cameroonian makossa, and even some Congolese soukous. The music heard on this 1989 Misiani album shores up the claim while also revealing a uniquely flowing and airy African beat sound. Supported by his Shirati Jazz band's cadre of three guitarists, two bassists, one drummer, and three vocalists, Misiani handles lead guitar and vocals on the eight consistently up-tempo originals here. Amidst the festive weave of music, Misiani lyrics take in everything from a faith healer who once cured him to political figures and tour travelogues. An essential title for fans of contemporary African music.

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