Michael Olatuja Releases “Lagos Pepper Soup”
On his third album as a leader, Michael Olajuta has pulled out all the stops. Lagos Pepper Soup may be named after a West African dish, but it’s spiced up with influences from around the world. The international affair is natural for Olatuja, who was born in London, raised in Lagos, and now lives in New York City. Through all of his travels, he’s connected with each of the guests on his new album, including Angelique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves, Brandee Younger, Lionel Loueke, Regina Carter, Joe Lovano, Laura Mvula, Gregoire Maret and Becca Stevens.
“Lionel and Angelique are like my big brother and sister,” Olatuja says. “I toured with him, and we just hit it off. His mum speaks Yoruba. I met Angelique two years ago, and have toured with her since. She’s always been one of my heroes. She’s Mama Africa: She’s the queen! Dianne Reeves has been an inspiration and supporter for years. She’s been my hero since my teenage years. I was doing a show with Brandee Younger in DC at the Kennedy Center and on the way back, she jokingly said ‘oh, I see you finished your album, but you didn’t ask me to play a song [laughs]. So I asked her to do it, and she said yes. And I know Joe Lovano loves African music, because I’m in one of his bands called The Village Rhythms.”
Even with the thick cast of stars, Olatuja’s bass playing shines throughout. His style is described as “a combination of Abraham Laboriel’s percussive approach, John Patitucci’s acoustic and electric fluency, and Richard Bona’s Cameroonian-derived inventions.” Check out the mesmerizing video for the album’s title track, which also has some Marcus Miller influence peppered in:
Lagos Pepper Soup is available now on CD, vinyl and as a digital download (iTunes and Amazon MP3).
Lagos Pepper Soup Track List:
- Even Now Prayer
- Lagos Pepper Soup
- The Hero’s Journey
- Ma Foya
- Brighter Day
- Shadows Fade
- Home True
- Bola’s Song
- Leye’s Dance