Afro-Jazz berths at London’s Majestic Restaurant
For all the goodies touted in the event flyer, an e-bulletin sent out a week earlier, London’s bustling Majestic Restaurant certainly lived up to its reputation. The Nigerian-owned eatery on Coldharbour Lane in Brixton literally rolled out the drums on Bank Holiday Monday, 28th May 2007 at the inauguration of its jazz night.
A Thursdays’ affair looking to blossom into a full-fledged club with time, the entire package is conceptualised with all the fringe elements normally associated with London’s rave-making jazz holes. The organisers aim to draw from a cross-section of lovers of good music and those patrons who value the rich traditional African hospitality for which Majestic Restaurant has become renowned.
The inauguration featured the in-house band, Majestic Quartet ably led by Ghanaian-born-and-bred Jimmy Beckley, who despite professing being “a self-taught musician” is no less an accomplished one at that. He is one of Ghana’s leading jazz musicians and has played extensively at home as well as in the United States and Finland. Jimmy not only sings superbly, but also plays the following instruments with dexterous gusto: saxophones, flute, clarinet and guitar. He is supported by Peter Murray on guitars, and the duo of Ekow Akorfful and Adama ‘Kollie’ Kotey on percussions.
If Jimmy and crew are looking to fuse jazz and Ghanaian rhythms, music lovers present on the night are more likely to herald the coming of yet another hinge to the ever-dynamic Afro-Jazz genre. Afro-jazz refers to jazz music which has been heavily influenced by traditional elements.
The Majestic Quartet’s jazz offering is quite affluential having been spiced with dominant indigenous infusions. Even where urbane tunes are re-used, it is yet another window into the ever-feisty African music, but with breezy and deeply penetrating incursions in the form of horns and strings. The thumping sounds of Djembe (now of world acclaim) and the humongous Ghanaian drum (traditional equivalent of the Nigerian Sakara) resonating in the springy May air are reminiscent of the Gbedu frenzy for which afrobeats is renowned.
Since the ownership cum management baton changed hands at the restaurant formerly known (for almost a decade!) as Labalaba (Butterfly) Restaurant, Majestic has been upwardly mobile with customer-centred innovations the cornerstone of the drive to boost its clientele base. Today, with its combination of winning formulae, it has carved a niche for itself as London’s watering hole for professionals, elites and revellers alike.
The night’s performance offers a peek into what lies ahead on every Thursday for discerning patrons: an all-encompassing jazzy performance, featuring elements of soul, highlife and high octane infusion of accompaniments.
The ‘Housemaster’ at Majestic Restaurant is Akeem Olayemi Mustapha, a trained marketer with over twelve years’ experience at management level with top London West End restaurants behind him. Together with his wife, Mosunmola who is equally adept at both indoor and outdoor catering, they have raised the profile of the eatery since taking over four years ago.
Akeem is one restaurateur who believes in keeping things simple. He just wants to keep offering the “London crowd and visitors to the metropolis alike the finest in African cuisine.”
Segun Fajemisin is of Mediaworks UnLimited, a firm of information brokers and media consultants