Shikamoo Jazz was formed in Dar Es Salaam in October 1973 by a coterie of veteran musicians who were determined to recreate the glorious sounds of the heyday of Tanzanian jazz (dansi music) and in so doing ensure their economic livelihood at an age when elderly musicians have usually decided to hang up their horns.
Shikamoo means 'Respect' in Swahili. Comprising 11 veteran stars, many of whom had been band leaders in their own right, and sponsored by HelpAge International, Shikamoo quickly established a niche in the competitive Dar Es Salaam music scene with an enormous repertoire of original material, performed by master musicians, some of whom had enjoyed more than 30 years in the music business. Indeed, a simple list of the bands that these musicians have played in reads like a short history of Tanzanian popular music. No one in Tanzania can hear the names of Kiko Kids, Kilwa Jazz, Urafiki Jazz, Western Jazz, Nuta Jazz, Dar Jazz, Bima, Orchestre Maquis, Safari Trippers, Les Wanyika, Uda Jazz, Bantu Group, Vijana Jazz or JKT without recalling the golden days of the 1960s when Independence held hope of a bright future, and when bands reflected the optimism of the period. Yet Shikamoo Jazz did not confine itself to classic cuts and, with so many master musicians in the group, almost inevitably the band began to deliver a succession of new songs reflecting the social and emotional realities of modern city life.
During 1974-75 Shikamoo consolidated their reputation beyond Dar with regular tours around the country: performing at the first Zanzibar Arts and Music Festival; taking up lengthy residencies at the Luna Hotel in Morogoro and entertaining aid workers and refugees with regular visits to the Rwanda border region. In January 1995 they toured Kenya, reminding Kenyan audiences of what they had missed in the year following the closure of the border in 1977. Frequently the band have been augmented by the appearance of the evergreen Kenyan, Fundi Konde (RETRO8CD), and Bi Kidude (RETRO12CD), the astonishing 84-year-old Zanzibari taarab singer. When they toured Britain in 1995 Mose Fan Fan was invited to play rhythm guitar and arrange. Old or new, Shikamoo Jazz set a high standard for Tanzanian pop, as these 11 musicians perform to enthusiastic audiences in their inimitable Chela Chela style, with an easy going rhythm building to a climactic finale.
Shikamoo Jazz, personnel
Iddi Nhende manager/vocals/percussion, Salum Zahoro Guitars, vocals, John Simon Vocals/percussion, Juma Mrisho Vocals, Athumani Manicho Drums, Kassim Mponda Guitars, Ali Adinani Guitars, Mohammed Tungwa Bass and guitars, Madar Msellem Trumpet, Bakari Majengo Sax/conga, Ally Rashid Sax/conga