When you look up the meaning of the word limerick, you get a the definition that it is a five stanza poem. That is, if you are going with the basics of the definition. If you go further into it’s character, it can get your head a little confused with the rhyme schemes that are quintessence of the poem.
Limericks, the band is just the same in it’s composition. At face value, they seem like your everyday band but under the surface, you find a wonderful mix of characters that form the layers of the band to give it it’s unique sound.
I had a conversation with Ken Mwara to find out just what the band is all about and just like the limerick, appreciate it’s complexity.
How did the Limericks come to be?
The Limericks came to be in late 2007, when I was looking to start my own outfit. Our vocalist, Fafa had just come down from Madagascar and was looking for in-roads into the live Jazz scene. We were introduced by a mutual friend, and kicked off Limericks. Then Danz, the phenomenal bass player joined us a little later followed by Richie on drums and finally Buula (Brian Mugenyi) from Uganda.
As you have already picked out from the composition of the band, more than half of the members are not from Kenya. We have two Madagascans, one Ugandan and two Kenyans. I think it was the genesis of the coined phrase, the United Nations of Jazz Bands used to describe the Limericks
How would you describe your sound?
Limericks combines blues, vintage-soul, gospel and jazz with African rhythms to create innovative play and melodies that are thrillingly dense yet exceptionally fluid in their understanding of those genres to come up with their own version of Afro-soul. Simply put, sweet sounds from all over Africa
What are some of the highlights of your career?
When Alune Wade called us back on stage to jam with him on the encore at the Safaricom International Jazz Lounge, we were absolutely humbled because it is something that never happens normally and we didn’t see it coming.
This year it also happened with Kirk Whalum, Norman Brown and Rick Braun, calling Buula back on stage to jam with them on one of their songs. Absolutely humbling!
How long have you been playing together?
As an outfit, two years.
How would you describe the Kenyan jazz scene?
It is an amalgamation of different musical ideas and components, brought out by various multi-talented artists in their virtuouso fields. It has grown tremendously in leaps and bounds since the days of Jacob Asiyo, Mwai Lawrence and Chris Bittok who started it all, to the Safaricom International Jazz Platform. With that, you will find that the demand for jazz music has grown with it to find that most establishments have a jazz installment as a weekly staple.
What instruments do each of you play?
- Ken Mwara – Piano
2. Buula – Sax
3, Danz – Bass
4. Richie – Drums
5. Fafa – Lead Vocals
What are some of the challenges you face as a band?
I think it is always a challenge to come up with fresh, new material, ideas and gigs so our sound does not become old and stale. The more you grow, the more you have to keep pushing the envelope so that you can pose a challenge to new creatives and artists.
If you were to perform with anyone in the world, whether dead or alive, who would it be?
Personally, I’d go with Miles Davis. I think his character (what we have read or heard about him, was something to experience for yourself and getting to perform or even hang out with him is any musician’s (jazz or not) dream.
What advice would you give to jazz musicians who are just starting out in the industry?
Rehearse, record, and stay true to the music and above all else do’t lose yourself to anything that is out there- You are worth way more.