- photo by: michael winkelmann
In the language of the Bamana, the special ethnic group native to West Africa
who created the today very popular Djembe and its music, the verb fo means
basically "to speak". So we would translate djembe fo as "to play the djembe",
although a literal translation would be "to speak the djembe". This way of
expressing implies that the player actually speaks through the instrument and –
ideally – also has something to say.
Gerhard Kero is just such a person. When he "speaks" djembe, he does it in a
very clear and distinct way, unpretentious, groovy and very danceable. Noisy
superficiality and musical smalltalk do not belong to his repertoire. He draws
sounds out of his drum that can only arise from a long and passionate
acquaintance with the instrument and, in doing so, he goes far beyond the realm
of traditional performance practice. Even so, one can still sense his deep love
for the percussion of the Malinke: again and again, he quotes traditional
phrases, dances around them, transforms them, moves away from them and returns.
Gerhard Kero acquired his extensive spectrum of music experience among other
things through years of travel to countries outside of Europe where he studied
the music of different cultures. Of all these travels, the twelve winters he
spent in West Africa had the largest influence on his musical development. His
stage presence and experience range from world music to experimental jazz. If
you listen to any of his numerous CDs with one of his different formations like
Sanza or Phoenix Percussion Project however, it becomes immediately clear that
his heart beats faster for African grooves.With his well-received solo CD Kero/Mono,
he showed the courage to take on a project no one thought could be done, namely
to record an entire CD playing only a jembe.
Most important instruments: congas, bongos, jembe, darabukka, frame drums,
berimbao, dunduns, krin, Jew’s harp, water drum, talking drum, hang.
Gerhard Kero is running the beatfactory, Austrias famous percussion school in
Vienna. He developed dasimtakteteam, a concept for enterprises and
organisations - team building through drums - community through rhythm and
publishes a special audioworkshopseries called djembespielenlernen.