Yusuf & raving disciples
1064 WP Amsterdam
Yusuf Mohammed Nuweku is born on the 15th of October 1963 in Bolgatanga, a small town up North in Ghana, West-Africa. In his- mainly- ewe family...
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- Band/Small Ensemble
- Solo Artist
company descriptionYusuf Mohammed Nuweku is born on the 15th of October 1963 in Bolgatanga, a small town up North in Ghana, West-Africa. In his- mainly- ewe family playing music is just as basic as food. Every weekend the male members of the family gather and start drumming. The women, like his mother, sing and dance to their rhythms.
So from an early age on Yusuf gets introduced to many rhythms and drumming techniques.
Yusuf: "You have to climb the ladder. First you only get to play the maracas (shakers), then the gangokui (bel). Then you learn to play the kaganu, the kidi, sogo, and finally the atsimevu. If you know how to play all these drums, you may call yourself a master drummer".
Because his father is working with the police and every now and then gets transferred, the family moves through the whole of Ghana. This way Yusuf gets himself acquainted with all the cultures and rhythms Ghana is rich of.
At twelve years old he joins the Arts Centre to further develop his drumming skills for some years. He accompanies dance groups with whom he performs regularly. The next step is de dance department of the University of Legon. After an audition he is accepted. The coming years Yusuf expands his repertoire with rhythms from neighboring African countries.
Yusuf leaves Ghana and his music for some years to earn his living as a mechanic on the ocean-going trade. Once back in Ghana, he decides to spread his wings for good. At the age of 25 he arrives at the capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam. Soon he starts working with Susan Delsing, with whom he up to now is giving African dance lessons. They start at the cultural centre Akhnaton, now they teach in Crea, the cultural organization of the University of Amsterdam.
Apart from that he earns his daily bread in those days as a drum maker and repairer at Hippo World Music. He also teaches percussion for young and old.
Together with some of his old friends from Ghana he drums in the highlife band Kumbi Salleh. They are together for about five years and perform very successfully, but internal troubles put an end at the cooperation. After that he's being asked by the Ghanaian band Tsu Tsu Blema, looking for a percussionist. This band too has a lot of success; they perform in the Melkweg, Paradiso and festivals like the African Music festival in Delft and in Hertme.
When this band also falls apart Yusuf decides to take matters in his own hands and starts his own band in 1997: Yusuf & his Raving Disciples. The band consists of Dutch percussionists from Amsterdam who know each other for many years, most of them started off by taking lessons from Kofi Ayivor, the former and famous conga player from the seventies Ghanaian funkband Osibisa.
After Kofi they develop their drumming skills on conga's, djembé and kpanlogo drums (the Ghanaian conga) and many of them study the African rhythms in Ghana itself. Also Yusuf teaches them the traditional drum rhythms from his country. Ghanaian rhythms often consist of complex and syncopated patterns played on different kinds of drums. Together all those different sounds and rhythms form a percussion harmony.
Two years later the cooperation with the Disciples results in the cd Mokuley. The Raving Disciples play on bells, shakers, large and small drums like the kpanlogo, kroboto, kidi en ganganu, with much hand and stick techniques. They form the foundation on which Yusuf plays his inescapable master parts.
After some years and many performances later, he expands their repertoire with compositions for electronic instruments. Today the band plays a mix of very hot traditional Ghanaian percussion and afrobeat: great dance music inspired by Fela Kuti and King Sunny Ade, funk and jazz.
In 2007 Yusuf starts a new band: Zuluwannsago. They continue teh same line of music of the Disciples: afrobeat, jazz, funk, reggae and latin.
Besides Zuluwannsago Yusuf performs now and then with some old pals from the Tsu Tsu Blema days in the new highlife band Yama Yama. Furthermore he plays the congas in the band of Atongo Zimba. Recently they were performing on the WOMEX showcase in Newcastle. Sometimes Yusuf also spices up company and private parties with solo performances on for example his talking drum.