Music Keeping it in the family

Keeping it in the family

This music is for dancing,” says Eusébe Jaojoby, “so come join us on the stage.” After starting slowly, with a few sound system hiccups and a cool jazzy piece, Eusébe Jaojoby and his family band burst into a colourful, high energy set that you just have to jive to.

Eusebe Jaojoby performs in Jaojoby – King of Salegy on 7 July 2015 at the National Arts Festival.  Critics have credited Jaojoby with popularizing the salegy genre both within Madagascar and on the international music scene.  (Photo: CuePix/ Amanda Horsfied)

Eusebe Jaojoby performs in Jaojoby – King of Salegy on 7 July 2015 at the National Arts Festival. Critics have credited Jaojoby with popularizing the salegy genre both within Madagascar and on the international music scene. (Photo: CuePix/ Amanda Horsfied)

Those who overcome their inhibitions and clamber over the ramped seating are rewarded with infectious high-tempo music that demands passionate feet. No halfheartedness here. Jaojoby has been mixing western and Malagasy since he started playing professionally in the 1970s. His experience shows and he leads a tight band; the performance is practiced and relaxed.

Most of the band members are also his family, including his wife, two of his sons and his brother. His cousin and his wife’s cousin are the young female dancers, who shimmy and twerk with sizzling, seductive and sexual energy. It contrasts Jaojoby’s and his wife’s easy and dignified warmth.

It feels to me as if there’s a village on stage: different generations with different energy levels and styles, with Jaojoby very much the patriarch. “Selegy is the music of my ancestors,” he says, “but we decided to use modern instruments. If we did it in the traditional way, it would be acapella.” He’s starting to hand over to the younger generation, he says, as he leaves the stage for a couple of songs. But it’s clear that he is still in the driving seat, and he shows no sign of slowing down.

Jaojoby ends the show with a song that starts out acapella but ends with the full power of the six-piece band. The band has been touring South Africa since May this year.

Steve Kromberg
Cue specialist writer 

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