I N S P I R E D
WK 2 APRIL 2011
I N F O R M E D
E N T E R TA I N E D
NIGHT AT THE
MUSEUM WITH AARON ‘KRUCIAL KEYS’ RIMBUI
A F R I C A’ S P R E M I E R O N L I N E M AG A Z I N E F O R P O S I T I V E E N T E R TA I N M E N T
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WHAT WOULD YOU like to do before you die? Many of us don’t have an answer to that question, and even if we did, chances are high that we aren’t doing it. Aaron “Krucial Keys” isn’t in that percentile. When you watch him perform, it doesn’t matter how imperceptive you are, you KNOW that Aaron is living his dream and loving it. “Music is like a paint brush. I paint through music and the piano is my palette,” Aaron told us during our 1-On-1 session ahead of ‘All That Jazz’. ‘All That Jazz’ is a gig that Aaron puts together every couple of months. It’s not easy to attract such a following when you don’t make pop music, rap or constantly display your abs. But despite a lack of all those “fame-inducing” gimmicks, Aaron has painstakingly established an influence over most levels of Kenya’s growing music repertoire over the years.
If he’s not producing for, or performing with other artists, he’s working on his own stuff, and ‘All That Jazz’ is a chance for him to share two albums worth of music with his fans. It’s also intriguing to watch him collaborate with other musicians, especially when they seem like an unlikely match. KWELI spent some time with Aaron before heading to ‘All That Jazz’ on April 7 at the Louis Leakey Auditorium in Nairobi. Aaron “Krucial Keys” is on our cover and the focus of this week’s issue because he’s found his path, purpose and passion…what about you? Or what about us? Here at the ‘Nerve Centre’ we want to inspire, entertain and inform people around the world – and especially in Africa – by using our creative skills in a positive, purposeful and profitable way. So, once again, what about YOU?
God Bless KWELI Nerve Center
on the cover Aaron Rimbui, Jazz Musician Snapped by Ken Oloo Graphic effects by Vikki Keingati a.k.a. Design Jockey
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APRIL 11 3
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Things you didn’t know about
Aaron Rimbui What’s playing on your i-pod? Lots of bebop acoustic
jazz, West African music like Habib Koité, Richard Bona, Youssou N’Dour, Salif Keita, and Sara Tavares from Cape Verde. When you’re not playing the keys what are you doing?
Writing songs and producing artists, watching TV, taking walks, or reading African stories – especially biographies. Favorite movies? Shaka Zulu! Favorite food? Rice and beef strips
with chillis. Are you romantic? You’d have to
ask my wife – I did write a song for her... What irritates you? Two things:
matatus and people who don’t keep their promises What makes you happy?
to watch KWELI’s 1-On-1 with Aaron “Krucial Keys” Rimbui
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THERE’S NO WAY to prepare a newcomer to the Kenyan music scene for the experience that is Aaron “Krucial Keys” Rimbui.
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dictates that Africans like their music thumping and bumping with liberal doses of “Naija” auto-tune, or veeerrryyy looonnnggg Congolese-inspired guitar solos. They say most people either love or hate jazz “at first sight”. But in Aaron, we find a pleasant contradiction. People may be unsure of the genre, but they’re
seconds. His notes are infused with youthful vigor and unfettered exuberance but his mastery of them, is that of a veteran. He’s wildly passionate about his music but has the above-average levels of discipline required to pursue excellence. At times you will lose your decorum and at other times you will just sit there
LOSE your decorum and at
know the way. The Chinese engineers charged with giving our roads “swagga” are “Usain Bolt-ing” it, which means that in some cases you may discover your car plunging into an extension of The Great Rift Valley where your favorite shortcut used to be. It’s 7:30 and the parking lot at the National Museum is already full!? We made our way in and most the seats were already other taken?! Fantastic ushers by the way: helpful, polite and generally eager to make sure we all had a good time. You don’t want to know what it’s usually like for media at gigs. Amani Maranga was given the formidable task of getting the crowd to ignore the band’s tardiness. Anyone who can come near a mic these days and not mention the ‘Hague Six’ should be awarded with “Disorder of the Smoldering Spear”. Maranga could not resist the temptation but we commend him for loosening up the crowd and adeptly setting the stage for something very special.
TIMES you will just sit there and let the melodies WASH OVER you like a soothing BREEZE. almost always blown away by his approach to it. People who expected to be bored (but came to the concert anyway due to “bourgie” aspirations) find themselves wondering if this is really “proper” jazz? Is it meant to be this fun and unscripted? Aaron is jazz. His playing can spontaneously combust but then become intensely calm within
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and let the melodies wash over you like a soothing breeze. And that’s why when Aaron advertises “All That Jazz”, people mark their calendars. Making your way around Nairobi these days requires careful planning. Miscalculate by even a few minutes, and you could be sucked into a citywide traffic jam that will make your fuel tank go up in a puff of smoke. Get it? And don’t assume that you
Gifted people are complicated beings. They are either frustrated by other people’s inability to keep up, or they are constantly craving adoration and reassurance about their talent. Aaron “Krucial Keys” Rimbui seems to have made peace with his gifts. You can tell he likes it when people clap, but you can also tell that a more significant proportion of his affirmation comes from the performance itself; the opportunity to share his creations with others. Watching the camaraderie between him and his band members, ‘The Funk Unit’: Asaph Uzele (bass), Isaac Mugunda (guitar) and George Mutinda (drums), is sometimes almost as enjoyable as soaking in their music. There’s no clear hierarchy or sense of entitlement here. These guys have banded together to entertain us, and they do so with gusto. And that’s even before they brought on the star acts they had invited to share the stage. Many people would find the pairing of a pianist with a CV that reads like a “Who’s Who of Kenyan >
notes are infused with YOUTHFUL
VIGOR and unfettered exuberance but his MASTERY of them, is that of a
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SMILE the world needs it... smile Dandora needs it, SMILE the world needs it... smile OCAMPO 6 need it – Juliani
to watch Juliani perform with Aaron “Krucial Keys” Rimbui
Music” with a satirical, slang-spitting “modern-day John the Baptist” a bit awkward. They only feel that way because they don’t know jazz. Jazz is the street. Jazz is the halls of power. Jazz is the sound of a mkokoteni (hand cart) operator’s sweat dripping on the tarmac as it slopes up-hill. Jazz is in the roar of a Lamborghini engine. Jazz is in the beating heart of a rebel Libyan soldier during a sustained Gaddafi-loyalist attack. Jazz is in the hurried footsteps of a woman and her
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children fleeing their home in Abidjan. Jazz is Africa. Jazz is the Diaspora. Jazz infects all who come here and clings to their cells when they leave. Jazz makes you smile despite the lingering choke-hold of slavery, economic stagnation, dictatorship, prejudice, corruption, inadequacy, inferiority complexes and arrested development. And that’s why Juliani is Jazz. He asked us to smile “because the world needs it, and because Dandora (an unplanned settlement in Nairobi)
needs it.” Sauti Sol have been seen and heard EVERYWHERE. But there was something different about tonight. These guys have gotten a LOT of welldeserved attention >
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and exposure. After a while, the yearning and naked truth in their voices turned into a wellrehearsed, expertly-delivered perfectly harmonized croon. But not tonight. Tonight, they were simply four young Kenyan men with a God-given ability to electrify your synapses. They were unplugged, they were charming and they were ours again. It’s hard to articulate our “Night At The Museum”. We “discussed” politics, love, joy and...stuff. We left feeling
deeply satisfied. Aaron is ‘all that jazz’ and more. We’re watching a legend in the making. The only question is: will his music make our kids close their eyes, clap their hands and tap their feet the way we did tonight, or will they roll their eyes as we talk about the “good ol’ days” when “music was music” and Aaron “Krucial Keys” Rimbui would get on that keyboard every couple of months and crank our heartbeats up a notch... ☐
RIGHT: Amani Maranga, host of the evening Sauti Sol perform with Aaron BELOW, L to R: Asaph Uzele (Bass), Isaac Muganda (Guitar) & George Mutinda (Drums) FAR RIGHT: Sauti Sol (L to R): Willis Chimano, Bien-Aime Baraza, Polycarp “Fancy Fingers” Otieno, Delvin Mudigi
Awinja Awinja hamba vwangu, vana VANDEVANGA atsirena mama Translation from Luhya: Awinja, Awinja, come quickly, the children are asking me where their mother is... – ‘Awinja’ by Sauti Sol, Album: Sol Filosofia, Producer: Wawesh, Record Label: Penya 12 KWELI | ISSUE 9 | WEEK 2 | APRIL 11
to watch Sauti Sol and Aaron “Krucial Keys” Rimbui perform
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Published on Apr 10, 2011
Aaron "Krucial Keys" Rimbui holds 'All That Jazz' every couple of months to share his music with fans and collaborate with other musicians t...