The finale of last week’s African Heritage Night was the launch of the debut album by the multi-talented Kenyan musician Papillon (aka Martin Murimi).
Heart of Africa is the album recently recorded by Papillon with the same remarkable band members who performed last Wednesday night in the garden at Alliance Francaise.
Papillon has been performing at Nairobi venues for many years. He wasn’t known by ‘the French name for butterfly’ back in 2005 when he started performing professionally with the Jua Kali Drummers out of Dagoretti.
With Jua Kali, the young percussionist performed in Europe and Latin America. But after attending a number of music workshops and meeting the musician who’d become his main mentor, Ayub Ogada, he split from Jua Kali and formed Slum Drummers.
Even before he joined Jua Kali, Murimi was making his own instruments out of scrap metal and other objects. Then once he got exposed to a wider variety of musical instruments, he expanded his own repertoire of home-made instruments.
It was that knack for assembling brand new musical instruments and sounds that appealed to African Heritage House CEO Alan Donovan, who’s promoting several African heritage bands in the past, and who’s spurred on the innovative instrumentalist ever since. But it’s Murimi alone who composed all 12 musical pieces in his new album.
At the same time, his songs are beautifully embellished by the masterfully musical artists who Papillon also performed with last Wednesday.
They included Prasad Velankar on tablas, Michel Ong’ara on flute and guitar, Paul Shiundu on keyboard, David Muli Mbuta on bass guitar, Titus Davis Mwangi on percussion and Nelson Gaitho on vocals.
Performing as a kind of auxiliary team to the African Heritage fashion show, all the seven artistes were decked out by Mr Donovan as if they were musical princes, which they could have been, given the professionalism of everyone in the band.
Their musical genius was most apparent when artists like Michele, Paul and Prasad were given the latitude by Papillon to perform semi-solo riffs that effectively illustrated the band’s immense potential to grow and expand as they continue working together.
For now, copies of Heart of Africa are available through the African Heritage House. But Papillon is having the album ‘remastered’ in the States. It will be available early next month together with a new cover and booklet story about his collection of original instruments and his bio.