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Shola Emmanuel shines in his new single “Ododo”

Jazz has never sounded so passionate. Interpreting the world of jazz through a Nigerian lens, the exciting saxophonist and orchestrator, Shola Emmanuel shines in his new single “Ododo”. Looking for that jazz sound that quells your appetite? Or just looking for a new sound to try on for size – “Ododo” is a great introduction to jazz appreciation and even the seasoned jazz connoisseur will agree this is one standout.

The depth to which Emmanuel takes you in “Ododo” is like riding a zip line across a mountainous region. It’s very bright and airy, feeling as if you were flying and weightless. A buoyant piano base sort of guides you along, as if you were sitting on a cloud pillow. The bass and percussion beats are strong and confident. They don’t reveal themselves or flaunt as much as the saxophone, but they keep the time with grace. The drums are definitely in the jazz arena, but also fall into the African percussion realm. It’s a juicy mix and so much of the sound calls to mind a sunny day – but like many sunny days, out of the blue, the rain can come. A rainbow soon follows. This song can at times feel like it’s pouring on a beautiful day, and the water replenishes and washes away the grime and toxicity or negativity. It’s impossible to be in a bad mood listening to “Ododo”.

Sung in African or I’m assuming Yoruba, I can’t quite pinpoint the words or lyrics being expressed. The backing vocalists are captivating sirens, and the main vocalist is cheerful and lovely. The brilliant saxophone accompanying the vocals is pure gold. There’s that element of unpredictability that is so cool in the jazz world, and the voices and the saxophone blending is like alchemy. “Ododo” has moments where the singers could really take over, or dominate, and the perfect editing and arrangements is quite exquisite. This also gives the listener a more emotionally-rich experience. You feel as if you are in good hands, a trust has been built. I found the vocals in tandem with the saxophone to be very dynamic and expressive. I wish I knew what they were actually saying. A quick Google search noted that “ododo” means “flower.” I’d like to surmise that they are singing about Mother Nature or the role of the sun in a blossoming flower. This song certainly honors the land and Mother Earth.

Emmanuel is originally from the Nigerian capital city of Abuja, home of the Zuma Rock landmark. In Africa, the name “Shola” means “blessed.” He moved to Atlanta, Georgia, but can still be found traveling the world touring in such places as Canada, Europe and more. Among his influences are the legendary Quincy Jones, Miles Davis, Yanni and Kirk Whalum. His debut EP Yoruba Project (2018) features singles like “Agogo” and “Biowe”. “Ododo” is from his 2020 release, Kind of Music, a five-track album.

Mindy McCall

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