Ghanaian guitarist Ebo Taylor has long been one of Africa’s most interesting and broad-minded talents, but during a career spanning more than five decades he’s often been a sideman or arranger, not a bandleader—he’s never achieved the kind of fame he deserves. On last year’s excellent Life Stories (Strut), a two-CD overview of his work from 1973 to 1980, about half the tracks are music he played either a sideman or as the guitarist and arranger of the great Apagya Showband.
Though Taylor grew up listening to Ghanaian highlife and soon began playing it himself, touring western Africa with the Stargazers Band, he also became enamored of American jazz. After moving to London in the early 60s, where he studied at the Eric Guilder School of Music, he began incorporating jazz improvisation into highlife, much like his elder classmate Fela Kuti. Taylor never stopped playing music, but by the early 90s he had faded into obscurity, especially outside Africa, where he’d been unjustly neglected in the first place.