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Why Tshaka Winston Mayinja plucks his guitar after dusk

By Titus Serunjogi

Reggae music isn't meant for rastafarians alone. Want to prove this? Then just listen to tshaka Mayanja's new CD, Reggaeology Chapter 1: Bass after dark. This contains 13 tracks, many of which are done to a fusion of blues, jazz, funk and raggae.

Forget the reggae that often causes Rastafarians to stampede on dance floors. In fact, Bass after dark is much closer to music by Earnest Ragun and John Kpiaye than to the tunes by Bob Marley. It is one of those few albums where raggae is played along bass solos.Much of it is meant for couples that just want to relax and enjoy quality time together.

Bass after dark features vocals from Angela Kalule, Kampala's most popular cabaret entertainer. Here, she strikes up the same intimate and tranquil moods just like she has always done at Kampala Casino, Sabrina's pub and Club Obbligato. Tshaka never fails to impress either. He plays the bass guitar all throughout. And you should hear how his voice hovers within the steady mid-tempo grooves in Amaaso go (your eyes). Love ballads just feel intimate on this one!

The top-notch track on this album, Amaaso go, is an unpretentious duet between two lovers who just cannot wait to learn more about each other. Their vocal give-and-take is picked with romantic clichés here and there. But where did the couple disappear? Their vocal give-and-take ends on a sudden note, without giving us a clue.

Well, at least we know that mayanja's new album is dedicated to adults alone, just like his previous Dark Chocolate was.

Many of the songs are picked with romantic clichés. The voices, glorious and breathy, are sentimental. And the instrumentals? They are just perfect. Listening to it, you cannot help wondering: "Where have such good players been hiding all along?"

Tshaka and Angella Kalule Besides mayanja himself, there is Fred Walusimbi (of the Gospel group 'First love') at the instruments. No other live band has ever produced such a melodious mix of sounds from the acoustic guitars, keyboards and trumpets -- all played together along low bass lines.

Sometimes, the lyrics may be blanked or replaced with soft breathing and gentle chuckles. But the raw instrumentals alone can keep a listener hypnotised all through the song.

Kalule has brought in a few tricks from Afrigo and Misty Jazz bands where she is lead vocalist. How else could she sing with such precision? Tshaka on the other hand, is still true to his love for Jamaican reggae.

Listening to the way his voice hovers within that steady reggae vibe just reminds you of Block Mountain and maxi Priest.It is thus of little wonder that when the two artistes came together for another vocal give-and-take, they ended up with a master-piece. Nkomyeewo, as the album called, is about a couple that had broken up but decide to re-unite.

Black Roots Unlimited Mayanja does his high-pitched, swaying vocals, while Kalule enjoins with a grand smoky tone that slithers low through the melodies, while, the band mates are playing away at the guitars, keyboards and drums and trumpets.

It is a lively, but controlled groove -- such as can only be produced by dedicated artistes like Angela Kalule and Winston Mayanja. You can never tire of listening to Bass after dark.

Music Uganda recently caught up with Tshaka and as we guessed, he is currently writing his next project in the Reggaeology series. "It will be Reggaeology Chapter 2. I'll still be dipping into my other favourite genres of The Blues and Jazz to complement my Reggae. This project should be ready by December. I already have hundreds of written songs waiting to be recorded. I'm still adding more as I get inspired" Tshaka confessed.