Noel Saizonou - vocals,percussion | Janne Halonen - guitar, vocals | Sampo Riskilä - bass | Juha Räsänen - drums | Menard Mponda -percussion,vocals | Visa Oscar - keyboards | Joakim Berghäll - saxophones,vocals | Mikko Pettinen - trumpet,vocals
In january 2012 three musicians from Helsinki, including guitarist Janne Halonen, followed their dream and travelled to Benin, West-Africa. They hooked up in Cotonou with Noel Saizonou, an experienced multi-instrumentalist who had been recommended to them by Beninese guitarist Lionel Loueke. Noel introduced the Finns to voodoo music traditions. After some months, they had put a band together.
Since 2013, Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble have produced two studio albums and a live album that demonstrate how sharp are the members of the band. This is an intelligent gang of musicians able to innovate and produce arrangements that are complex but at the same time clean and powerful. Fire, Sweat & Pastis got bold reviews in north America.
Drawing inspiration from the roots of Afrobeat, the musicians are using their blues & jazz experience to expand on Voodoo rhythms with a modern, imaginative and progressive urban touch.
Each performance is a breathtaking rhythmic storm where inspired solos, harmony and dynamics, beats and improvisation all mesh together in vital and unpredictable ways. The groove is infectious.
Among the highlights of their (still) short career, one will find Sziget (Europe's largest music festival), Pori Jazz, Montreal Jazz, Sunfest, Festival d'Ete, Cotonou Couleurs Jazz and Masala Festival.
Their new album We Are Together (Bafe Factory, Finland) came out in March 2018.
'With their deep Afrobeat roots, they whip up a perfectly sharp and complex mix of Voodoo, jazz and funk rhythms.
A brilliant cultural blend!' Montreal Jazz Festival
Afro Jazz , Afrobeat, World Music
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