Primary Instrument: Band/ensemble/orchestra
TEA has just finished producing the new album by keyboard legend Brian Auger, titled Language of the Heart.
Now available from Amazon, iTunes, www.brianauger.teaproductions.com, www.brianauger.com
Tea needs to find the copyright holder for the photograph of Brian Auger ... we would like to use it in his new album, Language of the Heart. Please contact us through AAJ.
Tea: The Songs and Productions of Franck Balloffet and Phil Bunch
Tea’s second album, “Dreams,” has just been completed. The first release is “Voyages du Jour.”
Guitarist Franck Balloffet, from Lyon, France, and Southern California drummer/ keyboardist Phil Bunch first met as members of Los Angeles’ premier African band, Bateke Beat, featuring multi-instrumentalist Fidel Bateke, formerly of Fela Kuti’s ensemble from Nigeria. The group was the house band at the legendary L.A. club Flaming Colossus, as well as Malibu’s Adobe.
In the early ‘90s Phil and Franck departed Bateke Beat to lead the soul-afrobeat Orchestra Shegemo and Savwa, which included saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and vocalist Sharlotte Gibson, for years a background singer with Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, and Ricky Minor’s band on American Idol. They emerged as the house band at infamous L.A. venues Po Na Na Souk and Bokaos.
Franck and Phil have currently been producing and collaborating with unique vocalists: Congolese vocalists Steve “Ikhaman” Ngondo (previously with Tabu Le Rochereau) and Ilongomo “Elo” Ememe, Marcel Adjibi, vocalist and percussionist from Benin (Manu Dibango, John Densmore), Amadu Sabali from Senegal and American multi-lingual vocalists Chana (Tambu International Ensemble) and Suyen Mosely.
Personnel on “Dreams” include legendary British keyboardist Brian Auger (Steampacket, Brian Auger’s Trinity, Oblivion Express) playing Hammond B3 and Fender-Rhodes. Nigeria’s Remi Kabaka (guest percussionist on the Rolling Stones’ Winter 2002 West Coast tour, and the only African musician on Paul McCartney’s “Band On The Run” album) is featured on talking drum and percussion. Bassists André Manga, from Cameroon (currently featured live on Josh Groban’s world tour, additionally with Angelique Kidjo) and Bobby Tsukamoto (Neil Larsen, Michael Landau) are also included. as well as Cameroonian EMI studio guitarist Louis Wasson, saxophonists Randall Willis (Gerald Wilson, B Sharp Quartet) and Bobby English (Lou Rawls, the Spinners), as well as Frederic Meschin on trumpet, and Chris Darrow (Kaleidoscope, James Taylor) on slide guitar.
A few months ago I received through the magic of E mail, the latest album from a duo who call themselves TEA. Mixing soul, house and jazz with African flavors, Tea is the brainchild of guitarist Franck Balloffet, from Lyon, France, and Southern California drummer/keyboardist Phil Bunch. Franck & Phil first met as members of Los Angeles’ premier African band, Bateke Beat, which featured multi-instrumentalist Fidel Bateke, formerly of Fela Kuti’s ensemble from Nigeria. The group's second record, Dreams, rises to the challenge of fusing lots of different influences while maintaining a distinct personality all its own. The entire record is so lovely and soulful that it is almost balearic at times, (Legendary keyboardist Brian Auger even guests on the album!). I must say that I find the project's overt melodicism quite refreshing in these days of distorted drums, acid synths and massive, squelchy bass (not that there's anything wrong with that- but sometimes a guy needs a little melody in his global fusions) The duo have generously allowed us to share a track with you today, so if you like what you hear, be sure to explore further.
“TEA offers a bracing brew of boss nouveau, French and Afro-pop, refreshing as a sweet summer evening breeze washing over lovers in moonlight. It’s the perfect party music for the 21st hipoisie.” -- Roger Steffens, “The Beat”
Voyages du Jour
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