Veteran guitarist Tony Dudu finally steps out into the limelight and releases his debut solo album. Douglas Macgregor reports
Occasionally there exists some hidden talent lurking just outside the limelight. Perhaps you’ve even heard Tony Dudu’s melodic lead weaving patterns alongside Portuguese singer Sara Tavares, Guinean guitarist Manecas Costa or Angolan musician Waldemar Bastos. But having just released his first solo album, Bim No Bai, the now London-based Dudu is bringing his incredible skill and knowledge to the fore.
Dudu started life in Guinea-Bissau in West Africa, where the local gumbé music reigns supreme. At the age of nine, Dudu was so determined to play the guitar that he built himself one out of a can, two nylon strings and a stick. He named it viola di lata (tin violin). He then joined his first band with a young Manecas Costa at the age of 12. This kick-started a musical career that has seen him perform across the globe.
Musically omnivorous, he has learned, adapted and adopted numerous styles by ear – blues, samba and funk as well as jazz greats such as Wes Montgomery and George Benson. Dudu certainly has some old school chops, but his craft sees him seamlessly mix old and new, his roots with the cosmopolitan.
His new project, Tony Dudu & the Gumbe Jazz, brings all this together with his sophisticated guitar sound floating effortlessly above organ chords and funked-up rhythm. Yet even if each song features myriad global influences, all are based firmly on transformations of the music from his roots – the gumbé music of Guinea-Bissau.
Tony Dudu is playing with the Gumbe Jazz at King’s College London at 7pm on April 28 to finish off a day-long event on Guinea-Bissau at the college. Entrance free with sign-up. He is also playing at The Old Print Works in Birmingham on May 13 (£10 on the door).