Ssewa Ssewa – Nva K’la (ARC Music, 2020)

Ugandan multi-instrumentalist, composer and musical instrumental innovator Ssewakiryanga James Jr., better known as Ssewa Ssewa, plays superb modern Ugandan music rooted in tradition. One of the main instruments he uses on his new album Nva K’la (“From Kampala”) is the janzi harp. This is a new musical instrument designed by Ssewa Ssewa. The janzi has 22 strings, eleven on each of its two extended, wooden necks. The strings on the left-hand neck are tuned in the diatonic scale, and the strings on the right side to the pentatonic scale.

Ssewa Ssewa’s captivating, well-crafted songs feature his warm lead and call and response vocals accompanied by the mesmerizing janzi, mbira and many other African melodic instruments along with a wide assortment of infectious percussion. On a few songs he also includes electric bass and guitar, incorporating funk, reggae, worldbeat and Afrojazz.

The lineup includes Ssewa Ssewa on lead vocals, janzi, endongo (Ugandan bow Lyre), adungu (Ugandan arched harp), amadinda (xylophone), akogo (Ugandan thumb piano), endingidi (1-string fiddle), engoma (Ugandan traditional drums), ngalabi (log drums), ensasi (shaker, ankle bells) and talking drums; Sebulime Michael on electric guitar; Aloysius Miggade on electric guitar;  Myko Ouma on electric guitar; Isaiah on electric guitar; Matovu Lawrence on bass; Samuel Bisaso on bass; Joshua Maggwa on drums; Augustine Mukisa on drums; Trevor Muhumuza on keyboards; Andrew Ahuura on keyboards; Solomon Kalungi Ssozi on vocals; and Lubwama Jimmy on vocals.

Buy Nva K’la