Line-up: MICHAEL OLATUJA bass/composer; ROBERT MITCHELL piano; FEMI TEMOWO guitar; JERRY BROWN drums; EMILY HOLLIGAN vocals; SIMONE DALEY RICHARDS vocals
Bassist Michael Olatuja is celebrating the release of Lagos Pepper Soup: his spectacular blend of West African Afrobeats and jazz “Cinematic Afrobeat”, backed by a string orchestra, arranged by iconic film music arranger Dave Metzger, the top orchestrator for Disney, with an International All-Star cast featuring: Angelique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves, Brandee Younger, Lionel Loueke, Regina Carter, Joe Lovano, Laura Mvula, Gregoire Maret, and Becca Stevens.
“The themes [on this new record] are hope, inspiration, and new beginnings,” Olatuja says. “This recording started at a very tough time in my life, and it’s cathartic and healing. I had to separate myself into two people: my older self, and my younger self, as if the older me were speaking to the younger me, encouraging me, and thus, encouraging whoever’s listening. That was the motivation for how this album happened. Most of my recordings are like that: Whatever season or journey I’m going through in my life, the music speaks to myself [and] others.”
The London-born, Lagos, Nigeria-raised, New York-based electric and acoustic bassist/composer/bandleader Michael Olatuja has been one of the most inventive and in-demand bassists since the early part of this century. He’s worked and recorded with one hundred artists, from Dianna Ross, Spike Lee, Phil Collins, Rod Stewart, Stevie Wonder, Frozen - The Broadway Musical (Disney), Shakira, Terence Blanchard, Chris Botti, Kurt Elling, Bebe Winans and more. Current projects include Dianna Ross' first album in fifteen years "Thank You" (2021) and Lin-Manuel Miranda's movie directorial debut "Tick Tick Boom" on Netflix (2021). Olatuja has recorded Three CD’s as a leader, Speak (2009), which won an IMA award, The Promise by The Olatuja Project (2011) and Lagos Pepper Soup (2020).
Nearly five years in the making, Olatuja’s new, twelve-track CD, Lagos Pepper Soup, named after a zesty, West African meal, with lyrics mostly in Yoruba and English, and recorded in London and New York, is his most comprehensive and compelling album to date.