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Abdul Tee-Jay

Abdul Tee-Jay hails from Sierra Leone although his parents and hence his full name, Tejan-Jalloh, come from Guinea. At a very young age, somewhat secretly, Abdul learnt to play guitar. At that time there was music coming into the port of Freetown from many different regions such as soukous and high-life, traditional and popular as well as local musicians: Abdul was influenced by all of these sounds and joined local bands. His family were all very academic and he also went to study in Virginia, USA in 1974. While there he took the opportunities to learn more guitar, use better instruments, joined a band called Spice and learnt to play the dulcimer. 
In 1979 Abdul came to Britain to work in banking but met other musicians and decided to form a band. This was called African Connection but then in 1982 he felt the need to concentrate on more typical African music, and a pan-African band, African Culture, came into being. Even this was not quite satisfying and at a turning point Abdul resolved to base all his music on Sierra Leone street- and folk music. At this point, 1988, the name of the band changed to Rokoto, the nickname of part of Freetown. Abdul Tee-Jay and Rokoto, a seven-piece band, brought out 3 albums, Kanka Kuru, Fire Dombolo and E'Go Lef Pan You (see below and CDs) and have toured extensively to many countries. The band entertained at the Hogmannay celebrations in Edinburgh to bring in the New Year of 1999.
More recently Abdul's music is still evolving because he now includes

beautiful acoustic palm wine music. For the group Palm Wine A-Go-Go he sings and plays acoustic guitar and has just one or two other musicians on stage with kongoma (bass thumb piano), kondi (thumb piano) and drums. In 2001 they were at London venues such as the Barbican Free Stage and Coin Street Festival. 
Whether with his full band or the smaller acoustic group, Tee-Jay's voice and music is truly distinctive. A new CD, Rokoto Make Me Dance-Dance has a selection of 12 dance tracks taken from each of Abdul's 3 albums. Currently he is recording both acoustic and electric sounds but is determined to play more palm wine music so that it may live on! Look out for Abdul's new acoustic album Palm Wine A- Go-Go available now! In 2004 Abdul performed at London's African Music Festival in May.

Click on the CD cover to hear part of the track'Bongo Boy'