On March 15, the Brandeis Department of Music held its third Music at Mandel concert of the year. The two previous concerts were held last semester and included The Garifuna Collective and Lydian String Quartet Sneak Peak. This past Wednesday, they hosted Jomion and the Uklos for an hour-long concert in the Mandel Atrium. This concert was a preview for their performance on Saturday, March 18 from 8 to 10 p.m. in Slosberg Music Center.
Jomion and the Uklos are a Brooklyn-based band from Benin, West Africa. The band consists of Samuel Gnonlonfoun, his brothers JB and Mathieu and his daughter Rose. According to the band’s website, their music combines a combination of rhythm and songs from their country with “reggae, salsa, and jazz to create a vibrant, relaxed dance music he named Whedo-jazz.”
At the Music at Mandel event held on Wednesday, while it was a small gathering of professors, workers and various adults and students who walked past the atrium, it was a lively and vibrant scene. Jomion and the Uklos put on a roughly 45-minute performance, playing six of their songs. As the show progressed, more students and faculty came to admire their performance, as the sight of a joyous and animated concert caught their attention.
Rose, the lead singer, was dancing around, even inviting some of the viewers to come and dance with her up front. Two women were grooving to the music in the back of the room and couldn’t help but stand up and dance along with Rose. Samuel (Jomion) was on the drums and singing, JB was on piano and singing and Mathieu was playing various forms of percussion as well as the trumpet.
Jomion and the Uklos’ music also has a heavy influence from the Vodou tradition. Many of their songs included vibrant harmonies that included lyrics surrounding faith and uplifting messages. Their music touches on very powerful concepts while also possessing a relaxed and lighthearted feel.
Before playing one of their final pieces, JB emphasized that their music was about bringing people together and without that combination of hope and togetherness, one cannot possibly be fulfilled in life.
If you missed the Music at Mandel event and still want to see more performances from Jomion and the Uklos, MusicUnitesUS is hosting an event entitled Jomion and the Uklos: Reimagining Benin’s Vòdún Heritage. This event will be taking place Saturday, March 18 from 8 to 10 p.m. in the Slosberg Recital Hall.
The Brandeis Hoot reached out to Jomion and the Uklos, but was unable to get a response in time for publication.