Kwesi Asare: Pan African musician & cultural custodian

Born in Larteh in 1931, Kwesi learned to play percussion at the Akonedi Shrine of his grand-aunt Nana Oparebea, high-priestess of a shrine, which has branches in the United States.
In 1955 Kwesi travelled to the United Kingdom to study mechanics but gravitated back to music. His Manchester house became a spot to visit for touring African American jazz artists, and during the fifties,Kwesi met and played with Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Basie’s guitarist, Freddie Green. In the sixties Kwesi played percussion with The Ionius Monk, Roland Kirk and Sarah Vaughan. In the 1970s Kwesi began to teach African  drumming to unemployed Afro-Caribbean youth in Manchester, and in 1982, with the help ofthe UK /Arts Council he created the Kantamanto Cultural Group, which has played at the
Royal Festival Hall and collaborated with British composerDavidFanshaw.
In 1987 Kwesi gave a series of workshops with jazz drummer Edgar Bateman and poetess Elizabeth Suber Bennett at Coltrane House in Philadelphia. While in the US, he also jammed withAl Grey, the Count Basie Band and the Sun Ra Arkestra. In 1995 Kwesi returned home to retire in Larteh where he established the African CuIrural Research Centre and has become a respected elder.

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