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Zeal Onyia, chronicle of a Nigerian highlife trumpet player

As part of its ongoing Tabansi Gold reissue series, BBE Music brings you the first ever reissue of this historic record, from the original source.

Consider as one of the founders of West African highlife in both Ghana and Nigeria, Zeal Onyiba played Ellington-style swing and dance with Bobby Benson in the 40s, classic highlife with ET Mensah in the 50s and provided stiff competition for Fela Kuti’s first band as a small-jazz combo leader in the early 60s.

After studying classical music in Germany for most of the 70s, he returned triumphantly to Lagos in 1979, where he promptly recorded these six memorable tunes with the Tabansi Studio Band.

Trumpet King Zeal Onyia Returns remains one of the most in-demand old-school Igbo-highlife sessions of all time, both in Nigeria and elsewhere, the original vinyl being devilishly hard to find in any condition, let alone playable!

Trumpet King Zeal Onyia Returns is set to be release on June 14th and comes on heavyweight vinyl, complete with original sleeve artwork. Pre-order it on Bandcamp here.

Read next: Ernest Ranglin’s reggae-disco album reissued for the first time

Zeal Onyia