John Ondolo 'Hypnotic Guitar of John Ondolo' LP
John Ondolo spent his life traveling between Tanzania, where he was born, and Kenya, where he recorded a string of singles for independent labels in the late 1950s and early 60s. Unlike most guitarists from the region, Ondolo used open tuning (a favorite of American blues guitarists), creating a hypnotic drone over which he laid down endless rhythmic variations on his main themes. Inspired by the exploding pop music scene in Nairobi, the newest rock and roll imports from the US, and the Abakuria tribal music of his youth, Ondolo transposed traditional instruments and rhythms to his guitar, playing it more like a traditional harp at times, and inventing a sound totally unique in the recorded history of African guitar. This album brings together John Ondolo’s rare early 78rpm recordings in the first-ever overview of this innovative but overlooked artist. The music traces Ondolo’s creative output, from the resonant acoustic guitar masterpiece Tumshukuru Mungu to the relentless guitar and flute (!) interplay of Kenya Style to his later electric guitar, bass, and drum recordings with the Jolly Trio, all tied together by Ondolo’s unique rhythmic sense and vocal style.