A musical experiment which lasted over 18 months has morphed into this country’s latest musical aggregation called Ijó (eee-joe).
Ijó represents a unique balance of youth, experience, experimentation and mostly a Caribbean vibe. A musical powerhouse, Ijó is comprised of some of the most in-demand professional musicians in TT.
Rodney Alexander (bass), Tamba Gwindi (percussion), Jeanine Ruiz (keyboards), Dareem Chandler (drums), Jeremy McIntosh (guitar/bass) and Jason Bishop (guitar) came together as part of an experiment at Spielzart Studios, run by Ryan Chaitram, where they collaborated extemporaneously to create original compositions based on rough ideas, called seeds.
No agenda, no rehearsal, no time pressure and no expectations. Just musicians playing the instruments they love, unrestrained and surrounded by good vibes. Each person in turn presented a seed as a source of inspiration for each recording session.
Over the months, the group developed a unique sound with Afro-Caribbean and Latin rhythms that sit beneath funk, R&B and calypso melodies. The six compositions are included in the yet-to-be-titled first album and will be released in the first quarter of 2019.
Ijó’s music is guaranteed to move you, dancing is inescapable and as a result, the group decided to adopt the name Ijó, the Yoruba word for dance, which was inspired by the name given to the very first composition.
The band’s experience comes in the form of bassist/ keyboardist/composer/producer Alexander who is also is a jazz composer and and multi-instrumentalist, best known as a bass guitarist. Alexander’s name has appeared within album credits for some of the world’s most respected and accomplished players and superstars since the mid-90s to present.
He has the ability to play across the spectrum of musical styles: gospel (Positive, Isaac Blackman and the Love Circle), calypso/soca (Fay-Ann Lyons and Invazion Band, Alison Hinds), jazz (Élan Parlé, Etienne Charles, Theron Shaw, Vaughnette Bigford and world-renowned Hugh Masekela), reggae (Jah Cure and Richie Spice).
As a producer, writer and player he has collaborated with Michael Low Chew Tung and various skilful and talented musicians to create many compositions.
More experience comes to Ijo with Gwindi a percussionist who has been performing for over 35 years. His inclination to rhythm was discovered, shaped and moulded initially by his father Carlton Olton, The Nantambu Drummers, Mwanza Olatunji and Michael Toby Tobas. His entry into the local professional circuit came through the National Action Cultural Committee (NJAC) and Andre Tanker in 1983 and continued with artists such as Ella Andall, Lord Kitchener, The Mighty Sparrow, David Happy Williams, Clive and Carlton Alexander, David Rudder and many others both local and international.
Ijo’s youth comes with Ruiz, pianist/keyboardist/cuatro/arranger/composer and educator along with self-taught drummer Chandler while McIntosh and Bishop are the ones to bridge the gap.
Ijó will be having its debut concert at Kaiso Blues Cafe in Port of Spain tonight. There are two performances – 9 pm and 11pm.