Meet The Anioma Man Who Revolutionized Jazz Music By Playing The African Flute

As Shakespeare rightly put it, music is food for the soul. To the Anioma people of Nigeria, music is everything. It is even with music that morals and history are taught and preserved.

According to an article published by a renowned Anioma historian Emeka Esogbue, "In 1968, Mr B. U. I. Okafor, the great flutist from Isieke, Umuekea in Ibusa, Delta State, a member of the Nigerian Cultural Troupe performed in front of a mammoth Olympic audience in Mexican City. It was the 1968 World Olympic Games and his ingenuity in Anioma people's talking flute natively called "Akpele" he wrote.

In contemporary music, the Anioma flute has been relegated to the background and only heard during high cultural events or at the palaces of kings and high chiefs.

In all the cultural ceremonies of Ubulu-Uku people, High Chief Emma Ejiofor the "Onishe" traditional prime minister of Ubulu-Uku kingdom employs the services of contemporary flutists.
In all these, none after the likes of Mukwuzi, Nwaeke Momah, Uche Nwalamma or Ogbogu Okonji have prominently showcased the captivating melodious sound of the Anioma flute until UzoPhone.

Uzo James Mordi, a.k.a. UzoPhone has incorporated the melody of Anioma flute into contemporary Jazz music.

Uzo James Mordi is a highly talented multi instrumentalist born into the family of Mr. and Mrs. Geoffrey and Patricia Mordi, of Akpama Quarters in Ubulu-Uku Kingdom, Aniocha South Local Government Area, Delta State, Nigeria.

He had his First School Leaving Certificate at Ubulu Primary School in 1995, before proceeding  to St. Anthony's College Ubulu-Uku where he obtained SSCE Certificates in 2001. He started learning to play the recorder in JSS1 under the school music teacher Mr. Okeibunor before falling in love with the traditional flute.

Later, he was admitted to study Clinical Biochemistry at Ebonyi State University where he obtained a B.Sc in 2011. In 2007, while in the university he delved into music and learnt to play the trumpet as a member of the Church choir.

His first outing was with the famous Brass Band Team led by Mr. Hillary Molokwu (a.k.a. Mopol) in Ubulu-Uku. He started learning to play the saxophone in Lafia, Nasarawa State in 2013 and soon became the toast of many Christian Bands.

He was enrolled into a music school in 2014 and took lectures on voice training. In 2015 he further learnt to play the violin, drums and the keyboard. In the same year, he rekindled his interest in the Anioma Traditional Pipe flute called "akpele" and by 2016 he was able to find a rhythmic blend between the hot rhythmic musical notes of the Anioma people and the soft and soul touching sound of the Anioma flute.

"Akpele is different from the western musical flute because it runs on few scales but I was able to  incorporate it into urban contemporary Jazz Music.", he said.

He founded musical team with different branches involved in teaching music: theory and practical.
He performs live at different functions ranging from social, traditional and official ceremonies. He plays a brand of Pop, Afro and Jazz music blended with the magnetic melodious sound of the African flute.

He is presently working on his d├ębut album, which will likely drop later in the year.

By Onwordi Ngozi Fortune

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