Roots to Fruits is a three-hour-plus documentary portrait on the Ghanaian Highlife and Afrofunk guitarist and arranger Ebo Taylor. In its final stages of editing, Ebo’s story of triumph against the odds is the framework for a deeper exploration featuring his peers, the clubs, the history and the performers that made Accra a very special place for music up until the military curfew that began 1984.
Ebo is a musician’s musician, unconcerned with fame or its trappings, truly in love with music and especially Jazz, preferring the quiet rhythms of the small town of Salt Pond, a few hours away from the turmoil of Accra. He rose to prominence as a guitarist with the Broadway Band in the 60s and later became Essiebons in-house arranger. Along the way he released his own albums, nearly always including funky B-sides. A favorite of crate diggers exploring the wealth of West Africa’s deep local scene of Afrorock, Soul, and Funk, only now does Ebo have a series of international releases colored with a smoky, funky mood, partly thanks to the efforts of Ben Abarbanal-Wolff, a gracious friend and wicked saxophonist who has been part of those trips to exchange music’s passions and secrets.
The video materials feature interviews, insights and a few golden performances from some of the leading Highlife musicians and insiders in Ghana from the 1950s to 1980s: its origins, its heydey, its stars, its music and message, and the PanAfrican cultural and political movement that was sweeping the continent at the time, until the gradual eclipse of Highlife by Hiphop.
Some of the musicians and insiders who have so graciously given their time include: Kofi Ghanaba (Africa Speaks, American Answers), Stan Plange (Uhuru Dance Band), Pat Thomas (Marijata), King Onyina (Guitar Highlife), Amartey Hedzolleh (Hedzolleh and Wulomei), Faisal Helwani (Bebini Studios), Jerry Hansen (Ramblers Band), Ralph Karikari (Noble Kings), Dr. K. Gyasi (Noble Kings), Nana Ampedu (African Brothers), Koo Nimo (Palmwine), Kojo Donkor (Uhuru Dance Band), Essiebons (Essiebons Studios), and many more who you will be hearing from later when we cover the colonial and postcolonial history of Highlife, from Palmwine to Afrobeat and beyond.