Photo : Justice Mukheli
Stylisme : Sheli Nyathi-Masondo

Blick Bassy formed his first band in Cameroon at the age of 17. They were called The Jazz Crew and would later develop into Macase, an inventive jazz fusion group inspired by local rhythms with three singers, all singing a different Cameroonian language. It was here that Blick began to revinvigorate bassa as a language that could be used in modern music, a language that he felt the younger generations should appreciate. After 10 years of performing with Macase – in which the group toured around Africa and played a number of festivals in Europe – Blick grew frustrated with the lack of infrastructure for an artist in Cameroon and decided to move to Paris. It was there, in 2005, that Blick started his solo career, at first collaborating with a wide range of artists, before eventually releasing his debut album Léman (a record that fused West African and Central African rhythms) in 2009, and following it up with Hongo Calling (which was recorded in Brazil following Blick’s research into the musical link – mainly through slavery – between Cameroon and Brazil) in 2011. After the release of this album he moved to Cantin, a small village in the North of France, which is where you’ll find Skip James’ photo hanging on his wall.

Blick Bassy’s third album “Akö” was released in May, 2015 on No Format, and the tour had included almost 200 gigs between 2015 and 2017, with appearances in some of the most prestigious venues and festivals around the world such as Womex, The Great Escape, Roskilde festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Womad, Montréal Intl Jazz, Lincoln Center, etc.

Imagine an African artist with the tenderly subversive touch of Bon Iver, the haunting falsetto of Skip James, the razor-like mind of Akala, and the inventiveness of later period Radiohead. You’ve just imagined Blick Bassy. In the slipstream of his acclaimed album Akö, Blick Bassy delivers 1958, a defiant tribute to the heroes who fought and died for the independence of his native Cameroun. Its focus is specific, but its themes - the bondage of neo-colonialism, the need for heroes, the relevance of history and the search for true identity – are universal. An album to thaw the heart and sharpen the mind.

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1/11 @ The Bitter End – New York, NY (WJF/FQ)