led by Michael Olatuja
Fela Kuti meets Jaco Pastorius is the Lagos Pepper Soup sound. It’s a blend/merging of Afrobeat rhythms and Jazz harmony, echoing Olatuja’s heritage in Lagos, London and New York.
“A virtuoso jazz bassist whose work draws extensively on West African Music” – BBC
“A Singular voice that taps all the cultures from which it is born” – BBC
The coming album features Dianne Reeves, Joe Lovano, Laura Mvula, Lionel Loueke, Regina Carter, Gregoire Maret and more. These musicians will take their audience on a journey through the worlds of music that bring them together.
Chances are you’ve already heard Olatuja’s extraordinarily creative musicianship. His work has enlivened the performances of Terence Blanchard, Patti Austin, Lisa Stansfield, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, Gretchen Parlato and many others.
Olatuja finds commonalities among the various genres that have shaped his artistry, beginning with the indigenous, traditional sounds that formed his roots during his youth in Nigeria. At age 11, Olatuja picked up a bass guitar for the first time, and within five years, he was playing professionally, absorbing everything he heard along the way, including soul, jazz, R&B, gospel and more.
Influences such as guitarist George Benson and jazz bassists John Patitucci and Richard Bona, who Olatuja calls his “teacher and mentor,” helped shape his musical world. Additional schooling in both the U.K. at Middlesex University and in the U.S. at Manhattan School of Music sharpened Olatuja’s chops and allowed him to mix it up with world-class artists who quickly came to appreciate his gifts.
His 2004 move to New York gave him the impetus he needed to put it all together. “As a writer, New York encouraged me to be original, because there are so many artists out there,” he says. “Jazz encouraged the freedom to improvise, soul encouraged me to do it from the heart, R&B encouraged an undeniable deep groove and world music encouraged me not to forget my roots. Gospel gives it all a sense of purpose; it inspires and uplifts.”