WASSY is known as the "King of 6/8 Rhythm, and remains one of the most respected African drummer and percussionists
Cameroonian Brice Wassy would play traditional rhythms such as the mangembeu on makeshift instruments growing up in Yaounde. He was profoundly influenced by the music he heard in the streets but Brice was told that to go to school to play Western music.
” The people of my generation were all influenced by music from abroad.” says Brice today.
Although he drew great inspiration from American jazz fusion pioneers Billy Cobham, Herbie Hancock and Tony Williams, Wassy’s musical development was decisively shaped by African innovators such as Manu Dibango and the late, great Fela Kuti. On Balengu Village, he digs deeper into his own personal and musical roots.
“It’s basically the materialisation of ideas that l’ve had for years.” he explains.” I finally got the opportunity to record in Cameroon with people whom l’ve always wanted to work with. I always wanted to record traditional African instruments such as the sanza, which is a kind of African guitar as well as percussion.”
Balengu isn’t the village where Wassy grew up. It’s one of the villages in the anea he comes from.
More importantly, it’s the family heartland.
” My uncle Moise was one of many uncles – a master percussionist as well as a sanza player and he’s always been a source of both fascination and inspiration for me right from my childhood.”
Recorded in Cameroon and mixed in France, Balengu Village has, in its vocal and rhythmic textures, retalned the heal pnd spontaneity that define so much African music.” I wanted to make sure that we kept a certain amount of looseness.” emphasises Brice “In traditional music
you don’t count time, the tracks can last twenty five minutes. If jazz is about improvisation then myself and many other African musicians are jazz players. Improvisation is one of the most integral features of our music.