Prom 12: Kokoroko

London based eight-piece band KOKOROKO bring their ‘horn fuelled’ Afrobeat sound to the Proms, led by trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey.

Sheila Maurice-Grey (Trumpet)
Tobi Adenaike (Guitar)
Duane Atherley (Bass Guitar)
Ayo Salawu’s (Percussion)

Reviewed by: Elizabeth Jones

Reviewed: 7 September, 2020
Venue: Royal Albert Hall, London

Kokoroko, a London West African jazz-fusion band, made its Proms premiere in splendid isolation performing in the vast solitary cavern that is this year’s RAH bathed in blue lonesome light throughout the set.

Lead musician and trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey in a sharp leather suit thanked the virtual audience, then she introduced Abusey Junction, the hit from the 2019 eponymous album. Guitarist Tobi Adenaike in jacquard blouson gave a masterful performance of this instrumental of midsummer-night pleasures gently accompanied, an exquisite chorus of harmonies.

Duane Atherley, tricked out in paramilitary garb with epaulets, beret and dog-tags swinging from his bass guitar fretboard, plucked open the next song with expert aplomb whilst Ayo Salawu’s drummed to the beat of falling summer rain in accompaniment ending again with delightful vocal harmonies.

Sheila informed us that the previous pieces were from the band’s 2019 EP and now for their new music. She encouraged us to feel free to jump in and let loose in the comfort of our own homes as the dance music was coming! Tobi and Duane played joyful riffs of nostalgic more sociable times, Sheila shimmied barefoot whilst saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi belted out her solo.Age of Ascent truly showcased Yohan’s gift. A smile of celestial ecstasy beamed as he played a prolonged sophisticated solo. Taking her place in the sun Cassie too played a solo. The finale, Carry me Home, in upbeat rapid tempo driven by Onome Edgeworth’s insistent bongos gave Sheila her best performance of the night, the song ending with the female chorus crooning “carry me carry me carry me home”. Kokoroko’s musicianship is matchless.

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