This masterclass with Balimaya Project will be led by composer, musician, and bandleader Yahael Camara Onono and will focus on listening, collective music making, rhythm, and arranging. Local musicians will receive insights on how different musical components work harmoniously within the context of West African jazz.

Open to proficient musicians with varying abilities and with the seriousness to expand their knowledge and experience. Neither reading nor improvising are required. Observers are welcome to attend.

Balimaya Project

Balimaya Project was formed in 2019 by percussionist Yahael Camara Onono, a second-generation Londoner whose rich West African musical heritage, coupled with his musical experiences in the UK, inspired him to bridge the gap between the diaspora and West Africa.

This group is built on the foundation of forging musical and cultural ties, from a place of integrity, authenticity and inspiration. Yahael and the majority of the band’s unique position as young UK-born men of African origin gives them a unique insight into what it truly takes to make an ensemble like this work, and the results have spoken for themselves! Their debut album Wolo So was released in July of 2021 and has had a huge impact on the UK music scene and beyond.

Balimaya Project has featured on prominent radio shows, playlists and editorials from London and Toronto to Tokyo and Brazil. ‘One of the most important releases this year’ said renowned tastemaker Giles Peterson whilst playing one of the band’s tracks on his BBC 6 show. The band has played on the mainstage at festivals and headlined shows across the UK and Europe, including We Out Here!, Cully Jazz, Nue Jazz, Brainchild Fest, Supersonic Jazz, Cross the Tracks, Thé Barbican, and End Of the Road to name a few.

Since Wolo So’s release, Balimaya Project has been included in other high-profile reviews and has recently been nominated as one of the Albums of the Year in the Africa and Middle East category by the prestigious Songlines Magazine and also won the best newcomer category. Wolo So was cited as one of the top ten global music albums of the year by the Guardian and many other publications.

The bands new project to be released in collaborative partnership between Marathons New Soil and Jazz re:freshed, ‘When the Dust Settles’ is set to raise the bar. The first single released in August 2022 has already got publications like Clash buzzing with anticipation yet, the core values remain the same, the upliftment of Mandé heritage and culture, a safe space for young black men to explore their culture and to create music that will inspire others to delve deeper into what it means to be who you are.