Yakou Daniel N’Guessan will perform with his band this Friday night, Oct. 25, at the Red Light Cafe as part of the Atlanta Jazz International Sound Series hosted by Myrna Clayton. N’Guessan will be joined by Kirk Green on bass, Dapo Dina on keyboard, Derrick James on sax and Dash Smith on trumpet. Special guests will include vocalists Roberta Setzu, Myrna Clayton and Janessa N’Guessan. Tickets are available at this link.
A native of the Ivory Coast of West Africa, N’Guessen grew up in a family where his mother sang in the church choir and his father was an avid jazz fan who listened to John Coltrane and Count Basie. N’Guessen began playing the drums at church at age 9. He said most churches did not have a piano, so drums were the primary accompaniment of the choir. By 15 he was making money as a drummer and decided to pursue a career in music. He holds a master’s degree in musicology from the Institut National Superieur des Arts et de l’Action Culturelle (INSAAC) in Abidjan.
After playing in jazz clubs in Cote d’ Ivoire, he spent almost a decade playing jazz and teaching in Morocco. He was part of a jazz festival organized by the King of Morocco and played with international luminaries such as Quincy Jones and George Benson. He met his wife, Janessa, while they were both working in a band that was touring Morocco. She invited him back to the United States, her home, and they have been living in Atlanta for the past two years.
N’Guessan is influenced as a composer by jazz and by the music of his native country. He says there are 62 tribes in Cote d’Ivoire/Ivory Coast and each has a language that is musical. He brings these strands together in what he calls World Music. He will be sharing original compositions along with jazz standards and African songs in his concert at the Red Light Cafe. This is his first concert as a band leader and he is excited to be presenting music that will be on his new album.