It’s been a busy time for the Berlin based collective. Having stepped out of the shadows with their debut album Susuma in spring 2022, they’ve hit the ground running, recorded a session for BBC 6 Music, released a live EP and performed various shows through Europe including a recent stop at Groningen ESNS. And to top that, they’ve just confirmed a showcase at the inaugural SXSW festival in Austin Texas this coming March.

Their poly-rhythmical debut album Susuma was built around the West African highlife tradition and the spirit of classic US jazz and soul. Delving into a wealth of influences from across both sides of the Atlantic as well as the Berlin scene – hip hop and jazz – the group’s musical vitality, journeying philosophy and indeed their band name, comes from the energy and spirituality of their take, and on the rhythms that feed the groove. Utilising the musical techniques, cultural context, and spirit of Ghanaian highlife they are as much influenced by the creativity of highlife pioneer Ebo Taylor and Dr. K. Gyasi as they are to the US groove machines of say Charles Bradley or Lee Fields.

The conception of Jembaa Groove happened late 2020, when band leaders Yannick Nolting (bass, composer, producer) and Eric Owusu (percussion, vocals, songwriter) met while picking up their young sons from the local playground. Yannick is from Germany and spent his formative years producing and playing with Lusophone artists in Lisbon.

Eric is from Ghana (although he spent a large part of his life living in Nigeria) and has musically grown as a reputed percussionist working, recording and performing live with artists like Ebo Taylor, Pat Thomas, and Orlando Julius (who he lived with whilst living in Accra).

Comprising seven band members, hailing from various corners of the world, their practice sessions are driven by a wild mix of languages and cultural expression. Listening to Susuma, you can hear Eric singing in Ga, (one of several languages spoken in the city of Accra, Ghana), Yoruba and Twi and pidgin English.

Garnering a smattering of support from the media world like BBC6, KEXP, KCRW, Worldwide FM, FIP, RFI, Rinse FM, WDR Cosmo and enough stations round the world off the back of their debut album Susuma, Jembaa Groove are causing a storm with their hybrid West African meets US soul & jazz sound. 

“Jembaa Groove is all about positive vibes. We try to promote positivity, togetherness and respect. But also try to remind others as well as ourselves that destiny lies in our hands, and that you can’t take things for granted. If you want something, go for it, but respect the people!”

On Tour

Date City Venue Country
20 Jan 2024 Glasgow Celtic Connections Festival United Kingdom
31 Jan 2024 Sao Paolo Mundo Pensante Brazil
01 Feb 2024 Rio de Janeiro Blue Note Rio Brazil
02 Feb 2024 Recife Porto Musical Brazil
17 Feb 2024 Warsaw Jassmine Poland
01 Mar 2024 Berlin Gretchen Germany
14 Mar 2024 Frankfurt Brotfabrik Germany
15 Mar 2024 Lisbon B.Leza Clube Portugal
16 Mar 2024 Madrid Sala Vilanos Spain
05 Apr 2024 Leipzig Werk 2 Germany
10 Apr 2024 Dortmund Junkyard Germany
11 Apr 2024 Paris New Morning France
12 Apr 2024 Rotterdam De Doelen Netherlands
03 May 2024 Mannheim Alte Feuerwache Germany
04 May 2024 Zurich Moods Switzerland