Yacub Addy (Congo Square – Yacub Addy & Wynton Marsalis)

In his introduction to Babatunde Olatunji’s The Beat of My Drum, Dr. Charry mentioned a number of Ghanaian drummers who teach in the U.S., including an important representative of the illustrious Addy family, Yacub Addy.

Although Yacub’s site is only just now being developed, I did find a little bit of information— including sound files!!!— regarding his recent work with Wynton Marsalis.

I became aware of this project via a NY News article, March 4th, 2006, with an interview of Wynton Marsalis talking about his show Congo Square, which premiered in New Orleans. For this production, Marsalis collaborated with Ga drummer (not Ghat— that is a typo!) Yacub Addy.

Going back to pre-emancipation days, Congo Square was a New Orleans gathering place where drumming was practiced by Africans and African-Americans. Architect Benjamin Latrobe, in his 1818-1820 travel journal Impressions respecting New Orleans, left important documentary evidence regarding the slaves and free people who he saw organized into various groups, dancing, singing in African languages, and playing African instruments, including drums and percussion. Latrobe’s writing is excerpted by Eileen Southern, but the best option is to read a hard copy of his actual journal, since Southern does not cite it in full. Southern also mentioned another author, named Cable, whose work I found to be interesting and useful, but also somewhat sensationalistic and less trustable.

Also, I located an article from the Journal of Negro History which deals with Congo Square, and also a brief paper dealing with the area’s continued development, including its present name of (Louis) Armstrong Park.

With Congo Square thus contextualized, its time to give the link for the Marsalis-Addy project!!!

You can actually hear most of the show, it seems!!!

Matthew Hill

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