Douyé, The Golden Sèkèrè Review
Crossing World Boundaries: Douyé’s The Golden Sèkèrè Marries Jazz and Nigerian Roots
by Constance Tucker
Nigerian-born, Los Angeles-based singer, Douyé continues to push boundaries with her new album ‘The Golden Sèkèrè. Known for her rich blend of contemporary jazz and traditional African influences, Douyé is unafraid to explore uncharted territories when approaching the standard jazz repertoire.
The Golden Sèkèrè takes inspiration from Douyé’s roots, blending the intricacies of jazz harmonies and timeless melodies with the lively energy of Nigerian polyrhythms. Douyé seeks to honor her father’s memory and the rich musical heritage of her homeland in this deeply personal work.
The heart of The Golden Sèkèrè lies in its innovative fusion of jazz and African polyrhythms. Douyé’s smoky vocals gracefully sail across complex, rich arrangements while the sèkèrè, a traditional Nigerian percussion instrument, sets the rhythm. Using this instrument and other percussion instruments adds authenticity, helping the album stand out and tying it back to Douyé’s African roots and her unique vocal sound and approach.
Right from the outset, with “Cherokee,” Douyé sets the tone. Opening with a contagious African percussion section, we’re transported to her world—a mesmerizing cross between jazz and African music. Her vocal style is direct, devoid of over-embellishment, allowing the melody to shine through in its purest form. A significant contribution is a trumpet solo by Sean Jones, whose performance echoes Douyé’s unique blend of jazz and African vibes.
“Speak Low” introduces us to another outstanding percussion section. The arrangement is dark, moody, and yet incredibly catchy. Douyé’s voice, the emotional nucleus of the track, emphasizes the profound meaning of the lyrics, drawing you into her world with her clear diction and syncopated accents. This balance of Africa’s talking drums and sèkèrè, combined with the lush harmonic and melodic colors of jazz, exemplifies Douyé’s innovation.
One of the album’s undeniable highlights is the twice-appearing classic “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” Douyé pays tribute to her roots and the greats who’ve come before her, most notably Cole Porter and Frank Sinatra. Her affection for this classic shines through, and her interpretation, rich with Nigerian rhythms, is a nod to the legendary Fela Kuti. Her father played his music every day, and this influence is evident throughout. The festive version of the song brilliantly captures the rich Nigerian culture.
Douyé’s sound is characterized by a balance of her Nigerian roots and an unabashed embrace of jazz. Her voice, always at the forefront, soars over arrangements that are carefully crafted to never crowd or take away from her beautiful vocal lines or tone. While the rhythmic foundation of the music is steeped in the traditional music of Nigeria, the jazz sensibility in her phrasing and time feel ensures that this album will resonate with both jazz lovers and those with a love for African music.
Douyé’s vocal skill is evident throughout The Golden Sèkèrè. Her delivery is distinct, her tone warm and engaging. She knows how to make a song her own, no matter the origin, and her fusion of styles results in something entirely unique and deeply personal. It’s this blend of tradition and innovation, this depth of feeling and technical skill, that sets Douyé apart.
In conclusion, The Golden Sèkèrè is an invitation into Douyé’s unique world where jazz meets African music. A journey that is well worth taking, whether you’re a jazz aficionado or a casual listener. Her ability to seamlessly blend these two musical worlds while bringing her emotive vocal talents to the forefront is mesmerizing. Douyé has genuinely created something special with The Golden Sèkèrè. An album that demands to be heard and definitely savored.