by Constance Tucker
L’ife is a debut in the truest sense of the word. British-Nigerian composer/vocalist Olayimika Cole has released her debut CD entitled, L’ife. Cole takes an interesting approach to the project by enlisting the help of twenty-five Washington D.C. musicians to help convey her compositions and lyrics. Cole really is able to achieve a very challenging feat by keeping the project consistent and focused with such a varying cast of musicians and vocalist. The result is something very unique and definitely worth the listen.
L’ife begins with a flowing melody entitled “Montreal,” which features vocalist Kiyem Ade singing Cole’s pen homage to Nat King Cole, and beautiful piano work by “Musos.” Cole explores many styles, from tender jazz ballads such as the aforementioned “Montreal” to the edgy hip hop inspired selection “Energy” (Afro Hip Version). A spoken word (rap) piece is presented in spoken word by MC Okechukwu followed by “Energy” (orchestra of African rhythms version), with an impressive amount of multiple layers of percussion, performing African inspired rhythms. Cole is able to clearly present the theme and character of the piece in a contrasting setting, but both bring the music forward in a way that is both creative and deeply rooted in the heritage of jazz. One can hear the influence of Fela Kuti in Cole’s music.
Other highlights include: “Beauty,” with vocalist Myrna Clayton and a fine ensemble of bassist James King and saxophonist Lyle Link. The inventive bossa nova “Because I Loved You,” where Ade is the vocalist with Musos, bassist Herman Burney and drummer Quincy Phillips. “Highly Contagious,” features the above mentioned rhythm section with Cole providing the vocals set to a catchy Charleston backbeat feel. “Musos,” again shows the piano skills of the mystery pianist, one hint might be the urban dictionaries definition of Musos – “A musos is a person who is obsessed with music.” The tune is a duet between Sharon Clark and the mystery pianist that is excellently sung with cleaver lyrics and sensitive accompaniment.
L’ife really shows the vast area of music composer Cole is able and willing to express. There is certainly something for everyone on this project and Cole is certainly on to watch; one can only imagine and anticipate the new pathways this composer with forge in the future.
Montreal; Journey of You; Beauty; Because I Loved You; Coffee Shop; Highly Contagious; Mama’s Song; In My Lower Room; Musos; Sweet Smile; Adore; I Don’t Know; Mr. Hennessy; Energy; Energy Instrumental; L’Ife.