BBE Music is back with another cool reissue drawn from the Nigerian label Tabansi Gold's considerable back catalogue. Available Jan. 17 everywhere, hear Eze-Nri Royal Drummers Vol. 1 on Afropop:
The album is a recording of the investiture ceremony of an Eze-Nri king that happened in the mid-1980s. The Nri kingdom is one of the oldest ritual kingships of the Igbo people, and one of the oldest in West Africa. This ceremony can be traced back thousands of years. The musical ensemble comprises three or four hand-and-stick drums, an alou ogene, a tall cowbell-like instrument played by two different percussionists at once, and the oja “talking flute.”
Tabansi Gold was founded in Onitsha, a trading center in the Igbo southeast of Nigeria, in the early '70s. As major British labels were divesting from the continent, label founder Chief Tabansi ran a label complete with its own studios and pressing plant, where he recorded West African highlife, boogie, disco, funk, Afrobeat and more.
The chief's son Joe is the current administrator of the label, and he signed a multi-album reissue deal with the British label BBE, which kicked off with the release of a misplaced Ebo Taylor album from 1980.
The recordings of the Eze-Nri king installment may be newer than that Taylor album, but their musical tradition dates back much, much further.