Sylvester Uzoma Onyejiaka II is a jazz saxophonist you should get very familiar with, especially once his debut album Akuma hits the streets on February 11. You don’t have to remember that name though, “Sly 5th Ave” will work just fine. A full survey of this astonishing introduction is forthcoming but for now, here’s a taste of Sly’s deft blend of modern, electrified jazz and Nigerian Igbo tribe grooves.
“Deme” (pronounced “day-a may”) features the vocal of Denitia Odigie, simply singing the song’s title along with Sly’s sax and Jay Jenning’s trumpet. Hajime Yoshida’s plush guitar lines grabs most of the attention, and he’s getting great support from a muscular rhythm section of Ross Pederson and Daniel Foose. They suggests rock, but the chorus proposes Sly’s formal American jazz background and a touch of his West African heritage.
Such blends aren’t new in the world of world fusion, but Sly 5th Ave has a way of putting it all together right so that you’re listening to the whole, not the disparate components. That’s part of the charm of “Meme,” a splendid slice of Sly 5th Ave’s fully realized musical vision, yet it only scratches the surface. More on the music of Akuma coming soon.