GEORGE MUKABI: KENYAN GUITAR MASTER
George Mukabi was probably the finest Kenyan fingerstyle player of the 1950s. His playing is somewhat similar to that of the Congolese greats, but with a distinct local flavor.
According to John Low’s”History of Kenyan Guitar Music: 1945-1980″ (African Music, 1982, 6(2), 17-36), Mukabi was of the Kissa people, and apparently created what became the popular “sukuti” of “Kakamega” guitar style in the early 1950s.
He had heard records of the “Nyasa” Malawian bands and set out to play similar music in a fingerpicking style. His playing was massively popular and influential, affecting urban players like John Mwale (several of whose recordings fill out this CD).
These recordings are from cassettes that were still available in Nairobi in 1990, essentially as “golden oldies” packages. The recording quality is generally quite good, and the music is superb. It is bizarre that none of Mukabi’s material has been released outside Kenya, as he is one of the greatest of the African acoustic players.
No one who loves intricate fingerpicking should be unaware of his work. There is a swing and humor to his singing, and an inventiveness to his accompaniments that makes him well worth an entire album.
To buy this CD, go here.