On Saturday, the 10th December, I went down to Que Pasa Bar and Bistro at the Old Karen Shopping Centre. This is an old shop or “duka”, as we call it, very English in its feel and architectural setup, which has been converted into a vibrant and friendly neighborhood bar and restaurant.
Live on a small stage, perched conveniently at one end of the restaurant, was the beautiful Maia Von Lekow. This was my very first time to hear and see her perform. I had asked a few friends about her and I must she was highly acclaimed. For example, my good friend Tshaka Mayanja of the BlackRoots Unlimited said “She is a solid writer and committed artist” having, on various occasions, seen her perform at various platforms within the city. So with that I was totally sold.
On arrival, about an hour late, I was first greeted by a crowded and noisy place of people enjoying their weekend drink or dinner. As I ventured in the mellow, yet strong and distinct voice of Maia pleasantly greeted my ears as I helped myself to a cold one and strategically found a place where I could capture the sights and sounds of Maia live on performance.
Maia Von Lekow is daughter to a Swahili father, who also happened to be singer, and a German Mother.
From this multi-racial and cultural background to her Kenyan upbringing and also influences from world famous female jazz vocalists such as Natalie Cole, Norah Jones, Sade and more Maia has been able to hone a distinctive voice that is unmatched. And this was evident as she belt out her very own compositions such as “Move Over”, “Oyster”, “Sunflower Avenue” among others to the delight of the crowd present.
And the band was great too. Featuring a bassist, saxophone player, a drummer (from Madagascar), a percussionist and a guitarist coupled with Maia’s soulful and deep vocals and you have a crazy musical concoction that saw the crowd applaud to her every performance.
After her phenomenal performance I purchased an 8 track Extended Play (EP) CD self titled Maia Von Lekow (2008) and I love it; great work! Please pick it up it certainly deserves a prominent place in your Music Collection or, more specifically, your Jazz Collection.
And look out for her debut album, Drift, which will be released “soon” hopefully in the coming year. I’m looking forward to more her performances; she certainly wouldn’t disappoint.
Review by Andrew Mutua