Aimua Eghobamien is a British singer-songwriter and poet based in New York City. London-born to parents of the Ẹdo ethnic group in southwestern Nigeria, and a family that appreciated music, he grew up listening to everything: R&B/soul, pop, rock, gospel, country, blues, jazz, classical, highlife, Afrobeat, juju and Ẹdo folk music.
This post-beat urban contemporary jazz artist is currently working on his next project. He is writing, running, reading, composing and being inspired in New York City.
He released his second album on his own label, Quaesitor Music, in 2014. Recorded live in London at Kings Place and Pizza Express Jazz Club, London Live captures Eghobamien’s Black Sessions project created and performed by him with a group of brilliantly talented UK musicians.
The album showcases a number of Eghobamien’s own compositions that realise the full synthesis of his musical roots. “Slate Of The Atlantic”, simple and stately, looks back to the work song, the blues style of “You Gotta Move” and the traditional spiritual style of “There Is A Balm In Gilead” (both also covered on the album). It builds in intensity with West African drums and with strings in a style one might associate with the Highlands or bluegrass. “Coffee Shop Window” capitalises on the complexity of an off-rhythm bass line and anxious strings to transform a sweet lyric of life’s possibilities into a more edgy and modern composition. “On The Surface”, with a catchy melody and bittersweet lyric, just soars in the perfect fusion of Eghobamien’s ear and heart. For the first time, Eghobamien’s poetry complements his music to create an innovative performance aesthetic. The poem, “Indigo”, precedes and sets the mood for “Slate Of The Atlantic” and “patches” is used to prepare the narrative for the song, “Enough”. This song builds relentlessly from the poem adding a steady, mantra-like bass groove to climax with the existential lament, “I cannot go back home/I am not even here, anymore”, then fades away again.
Amongst the album’s covers, Randy Newman’s “Same Girl”, accompanied solely by string quartet, sparkles as a chamber music gem whilst Sade Adu’s “Pearls” finds a contemplative jazz groove. Two traditional Negro spirituals: “You Gotta Move”, over an eight-bar delta blues, is tenderly approached as a duet with double bass; and “There Is A Balm In Gilead” builds into an undulating and affecting march. The traditional folksong, “Wayfaring Stranger”, is spiritedly performed with just voice and tambourine. The album begins and ends with passionate but hushed pairings, “Benediction” with marimba and “Loving You” with piano. “Benediction”, written by Ẹdo minister Samuel Ogbonmwan and translated by Eghobamien, uses as metaphor the promise of a sea captain to protect and guide his ship and its occupants. “Loving You”, music by Artie Butler, lyric by Norman Martin, proclaims an unending and life-changing love. Eghobamien sent the finished recording to thank Butler for providing the music, which Eghobamien had difficulty finding. Butler responded, “It is done so beautifully. I love how you listened to the lyric and sang the song and its meaning. Job well done, my friend.”
To achieve this mix of styles and genres Eghobamien utilises an ensemble that also pushes the boundaries of the typical trio or quartet. In addition to double bass, piano, marimba and string quartet he substitutes the standard jazz drum kit with mostly West African percussion instruments that include the djembé, udu, shekere, cajón and darbuka. Eghobamien has enlisted some wonderful collaborators to realise the vision of London Live. With their arrangements, Jerome Davies (double bass) and Julian Ferraretto (violin and string leader) bring the dramatic intensity of the string quartet to the programme. Chris Wells (percussion) helps create the West African sounds and Ẹdo drum rhythms Eghobamien hears running beneath the music.
Eghobamien released and toured his debut album, Poured Gently, also on Quaesitor Music, in 2010 to rave reviews along with radio interviews and airplay in the UK and Europe. The album combines fresh and unusual arrangements of jazz and pop standards including Ellington’s “In A Sentimental Mood”, Jones/Wilder’s “A Child Is Born”, Monk/Hendricks’ “Listen To Monk [Rhythm-A-Ning]”, Gershwin’s “Fascinating Rhythm”, Stevie Wonder’s “Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer” and Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life”, with haunting and melodic original compositions and thoughtful lyrics. Recorded and mixed at Avatar Studios in New York and at Strongroom and AIR Studios in London, Poured Gently features the internationally known and highly regarded percussionist Bashiri Johnson and stellar musicians pianist Glafkos Kontemeniotis, bassist Ed Kollar and drummer Scott Neumann. He teamed up with pop music video director Nick Bartleet to produce a unique music video for the track, “‘Tis What It Is”.
In addition to his solo vision, his current projects include the collaborative Indigo Sessions featuring his quartet of two double basses, violin and voice; and Heliotrope Set featuring his trio of double bass, drums and voice devoted to jazz and pop standards. He curated a two-year residency at The Pheasantry Pizza Express with Aimua + Friends.
Eghobamien studied Jazz Vocal Performance at the City College of the City University of New York. He also studied Creative Writing at Hunter College of the City University of New York. He studied voice with Mark Oswald, one of the Metropolitan Opera’s leading voice teachers. He was a member of Barry Harris’ Jazz Ensemble Choir and the Times Square Church Choir. As a singer, songwriter and poet he draws constant inspiration from many influences especially Miles Davis, Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Fela Kuti, Babatunde Olatunji, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, E. E. Cummings, Langston Hughes, Lucille Clifton and Billy Collins. Complementary to his musical inspirations, his studies and writings in poetry and prose are an integral part of his creative process and performances.