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Ghana’s master drummer Anthony “Reebop” Kwaku Baah celebrated

By classicbands.com/traffic.ht
"Reebop" Kwaku Baah
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Anthony “Reebop” Kwaku Baah, one of the world`s acclaimed master drummer, and a dexterous percussionist from Ghana who died from a brain haemorrhage whilst performing on stage to thousands of crowds in Stockholm, Sweden in 1983, is seen here playing with Traffic, the famous UK rock group in Rome. Circa: 29th March 1973.

 

Anthony "Reebop" Kwaku Baah (13 February 1944 – 12 January 1983) was one of the best talented master drummers/percussionists from Ghana who made it big time on international musical stage. At the height of his master drumming artistry and performance, Rebop became the sole dependable drummer for Traffic, the United Kingdom (U.K)-based rock’s psychedelic and sonic parlette group, formed by Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood and Dave Mason, and Can, a German-based experimental cum avante-garde rock band. Reebop involvement in these two bands transformed their rhythms and musical genre into highly sophisticated one that led to churning out of musical hits.

Reebop was noted for his driving hobby. In many instances he drove the buses that carried the band`s crew he played with whilst touring Europe. Kari Bannerman, the famous Osibisi guitarist noted that Reebop “was the only man who without a driving license in London drove his car into a police horse!!”

Reebop also worked with Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Ginger Baker’s Air Force, Can and The Rolling Stones. Reebop released his own impressive solo album “Kwaku's Thing” which has the smoothiest, silkiest and awesome tracks such as “Funkum,” “Iponohinim”, “Africa”, “Lovin' You Baby” and “200 to 500 Years Ago.” The songs have features of the kalimba-like, metallic sounds of his sequencer, and in the middle of the track these sounds stand almost alone to create a kind of trance until the guitar comes in again. Reebop is also well-known for unearthing and mentoring Jonas Hellborg, the Swedish bass guitarist who has music collaborations with John McLaughlin, Bill Laswell, Shawn Lane, Jens Johansson, Michael Shrieve, V. Selvaganesh, Mattias IA Eklundh and Buckethead. Hellborg was discovered by Reebop in a small club in Stockholm in 1979 and with persuasion from Reebop he moved to London for a year to work with Reebop on different projects.

Anthony “Rebop” Kwaku Baah was born on 13 February 1944 to ethnic Asante parents at Konongo, in the Asante-Akyem District of the Ashanti region in Ghana. Rebop started his education at Konongo and soon fell in love with music, but his interest changed rapidly into the art of drumming.

Like the early drumming talents that found fame in Ghana after playing for local bands, Kwaku Baah left for England to seek greener pastures. Luck came his way in 1969, when had a rare opportunity to perform on Randy Weston's album African Rhythms. His sterling performance on this album launched him as talented drumming phenomenon on UK`s musical landscape. Many opportunities came from various musical groups asking for his services as a percussionist. In the spring of 1971, Reebop Kwaku Baah alongside the former Derek and The Dominos drummer, Jim Gordon were brought in as percussionist and a drummer for UK`s famous 1970s band, Traffic. Reebop was recruited in Sweden during a tour in 1971.

In no time, Reebop added an extraordinary level of sophistication to the already sophisticated band. Reebop`s dimensions and skills just clicked with Traffic. With Reboop around Traffic released two albums “Welcome to the Canteen” and “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” in 1971 that became an instant hit in the UK and across the world.
Reboop`s tenure with the Traffic also witnessed the group recording "Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory", in 1973 at the famed Muscle Shoals recording studio. The music reached the Billboard Top 10 and was awarded a Gold record. The world tour that promoted it was chronicled on a live album called "Traffic - on the Road", which included keyboardist Barry Beckett, another Muscle Shoals alumnus, and was released in October 1973. At the end of the tour, the Muscle Shoals musicians returned home and Kwaku Baah also left the band.

However, In 1973 Reebop played in Eric Clapton's Rainbow Concert along with Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, Rick Grech, Jim Capaldi, Ronnie Wood, Jimmy Karstein, and Steve Winwood.
After Traffic disbanded, Reebop Kwaku Baah played on Steve Winwood’s self-titled debut solo album, which was released in 1977. In the same year, he joined Can, the German rock`s band along with former Traffic bassist Rosko Gee, playing with them until their breakup in 1979, appearing on the albums “Saw Delight” (1977), “Out of Reach” (1978)and “Can” (1979). Reebop was accredited as the talented percussionist who added a touch of both African grooves and Caribbean coolness to the Teutonic mix of Can`s musical (rock) style.

He worked with Nick Drake in 1969 on the song "Three Hours" released 2004 on Made to Love Magic. Reebop also recorded a solo album “Trance” in 1977 in a special combo with traditional Moroccan musicians from the mystical Ganoua sect. That album was a masterpiece! In 1983 he recorded an album with Zahara, a group with several notable members including Paul Delph (keyboards), Bryson Graham (drums), Rosko Gee (bass).
Rebop died of a cerebral hemorrhage during a performance in Sweden in 1983 (he had originally gone there as part of Jimmy Cliff's touring band).

His final album, Melodies in a Jungle Mans Head, was released in its unfinished state in 1989. His song "Masimbabele", a combo with THE UNKNOWN CASES, which was only released after Baahs death, was his great legacy. The track provoked new remixes again and again over the years. It is featured on a lot of compilations, besides others on "POP 2000", which documents five decades of german pop music. THE UNKNOWN CASES themselves have just produced "Masimbabele Acid 2000" out of mixes of the year 1995. This 2000-Remix and other "Masimbalele"-Mixes are released over the music-platform Vitaminic in the Internet.

Collaborative works of Reebop Kwaku Baah with others:
1968 Wynder K. Frog, Out Of The Frying Pan
1969 Randy Weston, African Cookbook
1972 Jim Capaldi, Oh How We Danced
1973 Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton's Rainbow Concert
1973 Free, Heartbreaker, (played congas on "Wishing Well")
1973 Rolling Stones, Goats Head Soup
1973 Third World, Aiye-Keta (as Remi Kabaka / with Steve Winwood and Abdul Lasisi Amao)
1974 Vivian Stanshall, Men Opening Umbrellas Ahead
1975 Jim Capaldi, Short Cut Draw Blood
1977 Steve Winwood, Steve Winwood
1983 The Unknown Cases, Masimbabele (12" 45)
1983 The Unknown Cases, Cuba
1984 Wally Badarou, From the CD "Echoes" - Jungle
1985 Free - Wishing Well 12" remix (played congas)

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