The Gangbe Brass Band was created in 1994 when 8 musicians, all from Cotonou-Benin, came together. These young jazz musicians had been playing in different groups, before creating this unusual fusion of traditional styles.
Gangbe Brass Band’s option is to promote the originality of the music of Benin. The result is definitely both modern and traditional, as it mixes jazz and traditional Benin idioms.
They take traditional rhythms, and invigorate them with jazz harmonies. The fusion reveals as much as possible of the musical tradition, while giving a western tone, to link the past and future.
They sing in vernacular language about life in general, political injustices and the tribulations of women.
Through the word Togbé, the band salutes the music on which they build their sound. The first meaning of the word is « ancestor », the band’s way of paying homage to the range and quality of the rhythms they created. The second is a reference to age, highlighthing the ancient roots of the music they play.
The Gangbe Brass Band’s musical approach is respectful of tradition, and in harmony with their ancestors and culture.
From 1994 to 1997, the Gangbe Brass Band have worked mainly in Benin.
In 1998, they played many concerts such as the Jazz à Ouaga festival, and again at Bamako’s Festival du Théâtre des Realites where they met the French group Lo ‘Jo Triban.
Thanks to them, they recorded their first promotional album called « Gangbé » and began an international tour of 35 concerts with them in 1999, playing Europe and Canada, and another tour in Nigeria. They received an award at Benin Golden Awards, and took part in the first Nomad’s meeting, in Cotonou, and the Pan African of Jazz in Accra (Ghana).
In 2000, still supported by Lo’Jo Triban, they play on international stages, such as the Womad Festival in Reading (UK), Jazz in St Louis (Sénégal) and Lille 2000.
At the same time, they developed cultural projects for increasing awareness about Beninese culture, their main concern.
The first one « Voodoo’s rhythms box » received the support of the Benin Ministry of Culture. It consists of a collection of all Beninese ceremonial rhythms for a CD, and later a CD ROM, in order to be distributed in European art schools, and cultural institutions.
The Gangbe Brass Band began working with a Belgian label in 2001, recording their first full album called « Togbe ».