Femi Temowo is a guitarist ‘par excellence’.
Born September 1976 in the city of Akure in Nigeria, he is the first in a family of ten siblings. Femi began playing the guitar aged 17 after having moved to London at 10 years old and very quickly entered into professional ranks, by age 21 he was already highly regarded on the jazz and popular music scene.
Between 1998/01 Femi studied jazz at Middlesex University under the great educator Stuart Hall (Loose Tubes). After graduating, he was approached by UK Jazz/Hip-Hop artist Soweto Kinch to join his then brand new quartet, the quartet went to on to win many awards including a Mercury Music Prize nomination, BBC jazz award for best new group and several MOBO awards.
As an educator Femi is a regular tutor on the guitar Faculty at Tech Music School, a contemporary music institute based in West London. He also gives master classes and seminars all over Europe and the UK as part of ‘The Urbanator Project', a music education programme founded by violinist Michal Urbaniak (Miles Davis) and based in Poland.
Femi’s slick and melodic guitar sound has earned him a place beside many great musicians and artists from across many genres, having played with the likes of – George Benson, Courtney Pine, The Roots, Omar, Roachford, Amy Winehouse, Jason Rebello, Eska Mtungwazi, Soweto Kinch, Terri Walker, Jean Toussaint, Don Blackman, Michal Urbaniak and many more.
In September 2006 Femi released his debut album entitled ‘Quiet Storm’. The album was released with much adulation and praise from both peers and industry experts alike.
One review described it as:
“ A palette of sounds ranging from Wes Montgomery to Jimi Hendrix, interwoven with soul, Nigerian Hi-Life, and spoken word.”
Femi’s latest project sees him in a Quartet / Quintet setting where he is currently expanding on some of the ideas he started on his debut album but in a smaller group setting, experimenting with Nigerian folk sounds and jazz song form. The trio consists of Guitar, Bass and Drums and are sometimes joined by a vocalist.
“Known for his mind boggling versatility… that can see him switch effortlessly between squelchy synth-guitar, neo-classical motifs, Afro-beat grooves and a natty line in post-Wes and Benson solo flights, this trio setting is perfect to let Femi’s full range of ideas flow.”
“Moving from Nigeria over to London, England could possibly have been the best decision ever made by jazz guitar player Femi Temowo. A natural talent and musically aware person.”
Temowo released his eagerly anticipated second album, Orin Meta, to critical acclaim in September 2011. Orin Meta, which means "Three Songs" in the Yoruba language, was inspired by Temowo’s study of the song culture of the early Yoruba people of his native West Africa. The record showcases Temowo’s distinct guitar style and exceptional arrangements through the Yoruba tradition of story-telling, fusing jazz harmonies and Yoruba rhythms. Temowo spent over a year meticulously producing the record.
In, 2009 Courtney Pine had invited Temowo to play at the first Lagos International Jazz Festival, part of the North Sea Jazz Festival. This was Temowo’s first trip back to Nigeria since his emigration aged 10, and prompted several revisits and an exploration of the music of his heritage.
Temowo explains that while "connected" to his Nigerian roots, he was exploring his cultural background from the perspective of someone born in Nigeria but living as a British person in the UK. The songs show clear personal meaning for Temowo – for example, "Felicia’s Song", which was written for his birth mother.
The record features respected jazz musicians such as Eska Mtungwazi, Xantone Blacq, Michael Olatuja, Soweto Kinch, Jean Toussaint, Troy Miller, and Grant Windsor among others. It was also the catalyst for Femi being nomitated for a the MOBO's Best Jazz Act award 2012.
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