Ghanaian Afro-Rock from German producer/composer JJ Whitefield, inspired by his Karl Hector & The Malcouns and Whitefield Brothers projects.
Fans of Zamrock, Ebo Taylor, Khruangbin and William Onyeabor will find joy in Johnny!’s hypnotic grooves
JJ Whitefield, who in the early ‘90s revived the gritty, analogue Funk sounds of the ‘60s and ‘70s with his Poets Of Rhythm, has been working with Now-Again Records for over decade, releasing a flock of acclaimed projects with Karl Hector & The Malcouns, Whitefield Brothers, Rodinia and the Original Raw Soul anthology.
He first started exploring African rhythms with the Whitefield Brothers in the late ‘90s, continuing in the ‘00s with Karl Hector & The Malcouns. He’s been instrumental in launching Ghanaian Afro Beat/Funk legend Ebo Taylor´s international career, decades after the maestro recorded the landmark albums that have inspired thousands. Whitefield recorded two new studio albums with Taylor and toured in his band between 2009 and 2013, where he met Taylor’s son Henry and percussionist/Singer Eric Owusu.
The trio now front the Johnny! band and find inspiration not only in Ghana’s hypnotic grooves, but also the full frontal fuzz guitar assault heard on the legion of 70s Zambian Zamrock albums reissued by Now-Again. Indeed, Whitefield credits his tours with Zamrock godfathers Rikki Ililonga and WITCH’s Jagari Chanda as instrumental in creating the Johnny’s sonic backdrop. The band is rounded out by Turkish drummer Bernd Oezsevim (Woima Collective, Rodinia) and Indonesian bassist/multi instrumentalist Tomi Simatupang (Whitefield Brothers).
This is what was oft-called “Afro Rock” at the core, with the possibilities to stretch out into swinging highlife, sweet soul or psychedelia . The results, point at a new direction for the music inspired by the Great Continent. One that takes a direction once mocked as derivative and asserts its importance on the globe’s current musical stage.