Sketches of Africa

by David Panton and various associates

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I had not seen Nii Noi for over thirty years when he made an extended visit from Accra to London in October 2015 to catch up with friends and family and to attend a showing of the film he had made with Stephen Feld about Ghanaian puppets, though this showing failed to materialise. On the day he wanted to meet and do some playing in Birmingham I had already booked a short set at the MOPOMOSO Xmas party at the Vortex Jazz Club, and suggested he contact John Russell to also book a set to add an African improvised input to the afternoon, and that is where we finally met up, though doing separate sets with other musicians (videos of which are viewable at In the meantime he’d also got a gig at Café Oto for the following January with drummer Mark Sanders, and in the course of chatting he invited me to be part of that gig. He chose Mark, as he explained, because he has played with ‘virtually everyone’ across a range of styles, so has the versatility to cope with whatever happens. It was the first time either of us had played with Mark but, as you will hear, the three of us had an instant musical rapport which developed as the evening went on. However, the evening started with a solo set from Nii Noi which, as he said, was ‘…more traditional than freely improvised but with elements of improvisation’. What this set aimed to do was to create a musical soundscape of Africa, travelling from the coast to the forest, the savannah, and the desert, using traditional instruments or his own adaption of those instruments. Although this disc concentrates mainly on the trio performances, edited from the continuous improvised sets, we have included three of Nii Noi’s solos as interludes in between excerpts from the first set, to echo the sense of a journey of discovery which he initially introduced. A digital download of Café Oto’s recording of the whole evening, including the complete introductory illustrated lecture from Nii Noi, is available as Otokura 47 (DL) Nii Noi Nortey/David Panton/Mark Sanders at


released August 23, 2016

Nii Noi Nortey: ngoni harp/lute, nu water-pipe, atenteben flute, gonje fiddle, alagaita oboe, alto afrifone

David Panton: soprano saxophone, bagpipes (without drones), piano (keyboard and strings)

Mark Sanders: drums and percussion

from a live performance at London's Café Oto 3 January 2016

All works by Nortey and Nortey-Panton-Sanders (c) 2016
Published by D & ED Panton Music (c) (p) 2016
Recording and editing by Panton Music (c) 2016



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