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Take Five With Aimua Eghobamien

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Aimua Eghobamien: With a dad who listened to a world of music from British pop to Highlife and Calypso; a mum who sang him a do lullabies; and siblings who were interested in all things American—Motown, soul, US pop and R&B charts—his musical tastes developed without limitations. Living at various points on three continents, he has experienced at firsthand Nigerian drums and folk, European pop and American R&B. His own performance experience includes theatre, gospel, rock, pop, Contemporary Christian, R&B and the blues.

This London-born singer presents a style that is elegant and truthful, simple yet sophisticated. He settles into a lyric honestly and without haste, letting the song do the telling, producing something that is altogether unique and very much his own.

His debut album, Poured Gently, combines fresh and unusual arrangements of jazz and pop standards from Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Gershwin, Stevie Wonder and Bon Jovi, with haunting and melodic original compositions and thoughtful lyrics. In collaboration with New York-based pianist, composer and arranger Glafkos Kontemeniotis, Eghobamien ensures that Poured Gently produces a concept that sets a definite mood, entertains and quietly tells a story.

Eghobamien studied Jazz Vocal Performance and Creative Writing at university in New York.



Teachers and/or influences?

Teachers: Barry Harris, Sheila Jordan, Neil Mackie,Mark Oswald, Lillias White.

Influences: Nina Simone,Cassandra Wilson,Nat "King" Cole,Miles Davis,John Coltrane,Bill Evans,Fela Kuti,Babatunde Olatunji.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... When I first heard the recording of "In A Sentimental Mood," by Duke Ellington and John Coltrane, I knew I had to connect with that music somehow. I went to university to study as a pre-med student and transferred to the music department after my first year.

Your sound and approach to music: It is my belief that a good singer should get out of the way of a song—physically; to let the song come through purely and only colored by the sum total of the singer's experiences. The song uses the instrument, not the other way around.

Your dream band:

I feel like I already have my ideal band in my New York crew: Glafkos Kontemeniotis on piano, Ed Kollar on double-bass, Scott Neumann on drums and Bashiri Johnson on percussion. But if I had to choose from the number of fantastic musicians on the scene today, the dream band would be Billy Childs on piano, Christian McBride on double-bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? Passion Poured Gently really expresses who I am and who I want to be as a musician. I always feel magical when I perform it. I am transported when I listen to it.

The first Jazz album I bought was: I honestly don't remember.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? The same thing I hope any musician would: a point of view that is original and distinctly personal.

CDs you are listening to now:

Marvin Sapp, Here I Am (Verity);

Heather Headley, Audience Of One (EMI CMG);

Louis Armstrong, An American Icon [box set] (Hip-O);

Tony Bennett & k. d. Lang, A Wonderful World (Sony);

Cassandra Wilson, New Moon Daughter (Blue Note).

Desert Island picks:

Duke Ellington & John Coltrane, Duke Ellington & John Coltrane (Impulse! );

Bill Evans, Everybody Digs Bill Evans (JVC XRCD);

Shirley Horn, Loving You (Verve);

Miles Davis, Kind Of Blue (Columbia);

Damien Rice, O (Vector Recordings).

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? Simply...education, cooperation, innovation (creatively and socially)

What is in the near future? The new album, Poured Gently, is out in a few days and I will be touring the UK early next year to promote it. Check my MySpace page for dates.

I am also working on a Louis Armstrong-inspired set with my collaborator, Glafkos Kontemeniotis, which is shaping up to be quite interesting as I learn more by reading up and listening to the "father of jazz." I am really excited about the arrangements we've come up with so far.

I am working on putting on a regular (monthly) evening, AIMUA + FRIENDS,' at Pizza Express in London, which will feature guests musicians—singers and instrumentalists alike; first night is Wed 27 October 2010.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a: a fiction or poetry writer.

Photo Credit

Courtesy of Aimua Eghobamien


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