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Thursday, Feb 28 2008 | 12:38

The Embassadors is a music collective formed by Hayden Chisholm – reed player/producer and long time colloborator with Burnt Friedman. The Collective is the result of over 12 years of Chisholm´s globetrotting, co-productions, collecting musical information and forging musical bonds. After years of world-wide music research, touring with groups like Root70, Pluramon and Burnt Friedman/Jaki Liebezeit, and creating the music for Rebecca Horn installations, Chisholm felt ready to begin tying it all together. After the success of the Root70 album “Heaps Dub” on Nonplace which he co-produced with Friedman, Chisholm felt the urge to push ahead with his own songs and his own group: “Music like this comes about through long friendships and in our case we have been playing together for over a decade in different formations. The musicians are from New Zealand, South Africa, Peru, Kenya, and Germany – more than enough reason to go forth as THE EMBASSADORS.” (H.Chisholm)

The collective is made up of the trombonist Nils Wogram, the leading trombone soloist of the European scene; bassist Matt Penman, first-call bassist in the NYC and collaborator with John Scofield; drummer Jochen Rueckert, often imitated and sought after by figures like Pat Methany and Madeleine Peyroux; violist and vocalist Gareth Lubbe, known as one of the prominent overtone singers in the world and principal violist in the Leipziger Gewandhaus; cellist Claudio Bohorquez, one of the world´s top classical soloists with a unique faculty for improvising, and Hayden Chisholm on reeds and keys. With these figures, Chisholm has brought together leading figures from across the genres, setting the foundations for what is a truly global music collective of the highest order.

For the collective´s debut on Nonplace, Chisholm discovered the Kenyan singer Michel Ongaru: “This year while I was performing in Kenya I came across the multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Michel Ongaru who for me was the missing piece for the collective´s debut album on Nonplace. After jamming for a week solid we made plans to merge our musical minds and record “Healing The Music”. Two months later we sat in Room 120 of the WAB hotel of Nairobi for days and nights on end, encircled by mosquitos and American evangelists. I wrote the words in English, Michel would put them into Swahili and churn them out at light speed on his Braille machine and Rob would fire up the tapes. The dots on the page were then brought to life by Michel`s voice, echoing through the burnt-out empty rooms of the third floor.” (H.Chisholm)

The debut gig of the The Embassadors at the Cologne Philharmonic Hall in January 2007 was met with standing ovations and will be released in 2007 on the English online label Plushmusic. Since then they took the 2007 Moers Festival by storm prompting Die Zeit to write “the inspired group The Embassadors was the one shining light of the festival”.

The Songs on the Album move effortlessly through Reggae, Bossa, and Jazz styles echoing the myriad of musical influences the New Zealand globetrotter and bandleader has assimilated into his language. His lyrics speak of encouragement and brotherhood but are spiced with the bitter-sweet taste of paradox, a natural ingredient when one has seen so much of this world. The multi-leveled references in his music and his taste for hidden meaning and the surreal are already evident in the Album title: “Why “Healing The Music”? – maybe that´s just what she needs. Maybe she´s crying out for it. It was always my first association whenever I saw the words healing and music thrown together in any context.” (H.Chisholm)

The Embassadors are:

Claudio Bohórquez – Cello

Hayden Chisholm- Saxophones, Clarinet, Accordion, Hammond Organ, Piano, Voice

Gareth Lubbe – Viola, Voice

Michel Ongaru – Vocals, Guitar, Shaker

Matt Penman – Bass

Jochen Rueckert – Drums

Nils Wogram – Trombone (Jipe Moyo, Maisha Haya …)


Marcio Doctor – percussion (Jipe Moyo)

Tim Motzer – guitar (Nia Njia Remix)

Burnt Friedman – drum programming (Jipe Moyo, Nia Njia Remix, Maisha Haya …)

Recorded January through May 2007 by Wolfgang Stach at Maarweg Studio 2, Cologne; Burnt Friedman at Nonplace; Pedja Avramovic at SSSD, Cologne. Michel Ongaru recorded and co-produced by Robert Nacken in Nairobi WAB Hotel Room 120.

Produced by Hayden Chisholm and Burnt Friedman

Mixed by Burnt Friedman

Mastered by Rashad Becker

Special thanks to Oneko Arika (the Mayor of Nairobi) for making all the connections happen, Robert Nacken for the limitless production support, Sveva Gallmann and the Earth Festival, Adrian Brendel, Dubie Bacino.


01. Chema Chajiuza (Chisholm/Ongaru)
02. Nia Njia (Chisholm/Ongaru/Friedman)
03. Jipe Moyo (Chisholm/Ongaru/Friedman)
04. Embassador (Chisholm/Ongaru)
05. Wimbo Wa Wana (Chisholm/Ongaru)
06. Tenda Wema Dub (Chisholm/Friedman)
07. Maisha Haya Kufa Kupona (Chisholm/Ongaru/Friedman)
08. Mwanangu (for Maxim) (Chisholm/Ongaru)
09. Nia Njia Version (Chisholm/Ongaru/Friedman)
10. Tenda Wema (Chisholm/Ongaru)

The album Embassadors feat. Michel OngaruHealing The Music” (Nonplace) has been released March 14, 2008.

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