Compared to other African countries, Benin has a small land mass. But the West African nation is a giant in music traditions and innovation. Jomion and the Uklos are a fabulous example of Beninese music with this live performance for Music Time in Africa. Jomion and his brothers come from Cotonou, the nation’s largest city. They formed as a musical group (the Uklos) after singing and playing for years in church, under the pastorship of their father.
In church, traditional vodoo rhythms and music practices blend with catholic hymns and harmonies to make a beautiful, distinctly Beninese sound. Jomion, whose primary instrument is trumpet, has a long history of playing across world stages for African music greats such as Angelique Kidjo, Lionel Loueke, Black Santiagoand others.
From the fusion of Jomion’s experiences and remarkable talent with his family affair in church, a stunning music has evolved that sounds like no other. Some call it Afro-Cuban-influenced jazz,others call it traditional Beninese.
The group recently performed and conducted master classes at Harvard University and continued with a tour in the northeastern U.S. Here they are with me at the Voice of America studios in Washington.