For a brief period, the Freedom Park, Lagos, was subjected to his saxophonic excursus.
His jazz animated the culture house, as he seductively belched well-coordinated beats.
In just 30 minutes, sometimes, an hour, he would play his kind of jazz to a highly ‘puritan’ audience.
So naturally did he warm himself to the audiences that when he stopped playing at the now canonised altar of ‘alternative arts movement’, his disappearance wasn’t only punctuated by a question mark, it raised a slight inquiry: Will he come back?
Yes. He is back. Fresher and better.
Born Oluwole Alabi, the power-toned saxophonist and hardworking artiste likes perfection.
He has done gigs alongside great musicians like, Gerald Albright, Richard Bona, Kenny G, Hugh Masekela, Omawumi and Tiwa Savage.
Alabi, who earned the sobriquet OluJazz D’Saxtalkative, because of his deftness on saxophone, believes that learning to play music is not only therapeutic, but also an exciting opportunity to develop a new skill that will last a lifetime, “and learning how to play correctly, can open up new opportunities.”
The Kogi-born artiste, who equally plays gospel music, says his forthcoming show at Shell Hall, MUSON Centre, Onikan Lagos, titled, Olu Jazz Live in Concert, is going to be a hit and ‘mother of all gigs’.
“I just came back for the concert I’m promoting, which holds on August 26. It is an event that is featuring more than 10 A-list artistes from local and international circuits.
We have a world-class guitar player, Nigeria-born US-based jazz rhetoric, Agboola Shadare.
We also have one of the best producers to come from Nigeria, a music maestro, Wole Oni.
He has produced songs for Midnight Crew, TY Bello and Lara George.
Oni also produced for me, and has been of tremendous support in my career.
Others include, Evelyn J, who has done something for Extreme and Rock Nations.”
The Lagos State University Computer Science and Mathematics graduate says, “we also have one of the best gospel musicians, Tim Godfrey, on our bill.
He has been of support to my career. Isaac Gerald, the Luther Vandross of Nigeria, and Ranti, an opera singer from MUSON Centre are on the bill.
Also scheduled to perform are, Isaac Jazz, a soulful RnB singer; Lawrence and ‘De’ Covenant, a powerful singer and good musician and my humble self, OluJazz, ‘D’ Saxtalkative.
The star-studded show is tagged Olu Jazz Live in Concert.
It is going to be massive and restricted event. We are expecting about 10 to 12 major acts.”
The concert has received commendable endorsement from the elite and musicians alike.
“I’m like a son to most of the big names in the music industry. They know me.
Big names like King Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, Tiwa Savage, Timi Dakolo, Tim Godfrey, Sammie Okposo, and Professor (Sir) Victor Efosa Uwaifo, who is like my godfather, because, when I recorded ‘Joromi’, he actually took me like his own biological son.
He gave a dream and added so much to my being. I want to say a special thank you to him,” he says.
He is unveiling two albums at the show.
“We’ve not arrived at the titles, but they are going to be out of the box.
This kind of show doesn’t come up regularly. But we are hoping to make it a yearly event. This is the debut edition.
The show is OluJazz’s, but every other artiste from the urban genre will feature with me. I’ll also be collaborating with other musicians.
It is a three-hour event beginning from 6 to 9pm. Red carpet and cocktail will open the show at 5.00pm,” he explains.
Recalling his exploits on the scene, he says, “I started playing trumpet from the 1990s. I also play drums, clarinet, flutes and other instruments.”
Though, he switched to saxophone in 2003, he already understood from childhood that he was going to be a saxophonist.
“There was no saxophone around then. Those in music shops were very expensive, and I could not afford them.
Gracefully to me, I was able to meet people who assisted me,” he says.
He went to Peter King School of Music in Badagry, Lagos, where he learnt how to play the saxophone.
From there, he took it upon himself to practice three hours every day for about six years.
Eventually, he had to travel to Los Angeles, California, in the United States of America, where he studied more about saxophone.
“I spent two years in the US,” OluJazz quips.
How did he earn the sobriquet OluJazz ‘D Saxtalkative?
“Kofi, the comedian started it. He noticed the way I played my saxophone, and one day, he said, I talk too much on the sax.
He likened it to the way a saxophonist would speak in tongues.
He said that I couldn’t be calling myself Olu Sax anymore and, because of the way I performed, which, he observed, was deep, he tagged me OluJazz, ‘D Saxtalkative,” he grins.
OluJazz adds, “the truth is, I can remix any song at all in jazz pattern. I actually breathe out jazz music from my loins. And that is why I’m OluJazz ‘D’ Sax.
I play in all kinds of events that are well classified, such as, yearly general meetings, weddings, international jazz festivals and others that do not go against the will of God.
Every social gathering that is ‘pure’ attracts my performance.”
He does not see the genre as elitist even if many feel so.
“Before, jazz music was actually gleaned from online, people who travelled a lot were those who had opportunity to watch the likes of Kenny G, Gerald Albright, Jack Williams, Michael Bolton, Bob James, among others.
But thank God for the media today, everybody can listen to any kind of music he wants, which was not the case before when the industry was not democratised. No Internet.
Today, we have the Internet. So, the music is not only for the elite.
Every father wants his children to play saxophone or any musical instrument. So, jazz has received a global appeal.”
OluJazz, who has performed in a lot of concerts in countries such as, Chile, United States of America France, Germany, Ethiopia, Canada, Brazil, Puerto Rico and others, is quite happy with the response given to African jazz music.
“They really love it. You know why? African jazz has a different culture, and the language spoken in the jazz today was actually taken from Africa to America by the black slaves.
If you listen to highlife music, it is the same thing as jazz, except the different variations; it is the same root.
European music actually comes from Africa, and because I’m a Nigerian and I speak all the languages, it makes me deeper in terms of African jazz, which English jazz musicians cannot compete with.
I speak more than Yoruba language. I understand every part of Yoruba language.
I also understand Igbo, Hausa, and a bit of Edo language.”
He adds, “the local jazz Yoruba has is Highlife, which is general. Igbo also plays highlife.
We had the likes of Osita Osadebe, Oliver De Coque and Sir Warrior playing highlife. T
here is a brand of Oriental Highlife called Ikwokirikwo, also called Ariaria music.
It is a fast beat music, and danced with waist swayed side to side.
We also have Ogene music, which is generally identified with the Igbo.”
Source: G Entertainment