Earlier this month Indianapolis lost one of its most unique and gifted musicians, master percussionist Prince Julius Adeniyi. The Nigerian-born Adeniyi immigrated to Indianapolis in the early 1970s and quickly integrated into the local scene, performing with many of the city's best jazz artists and establishing the Omo Obukun African Cultural Center.
Today, Prince Julius is best remembered for his role as a teacher. Adeniyi worked tirelessly for several decades educating Hoosiers on the cultural traditions of his Yoruban heritage. But the percussionist left a much larger legacy in his recorded output; his work on a pair of world famous local recordings brought his name to the attention of jazz and funk record collectors across the globe.
Foremost among Adeniyi's recordings is his contribution to vibraphone player Billy Wooten's In This World LP. Adeniyi is featured prominently as a percussionist on the 1979 cult classic. The funky Latin jazz groover "Chicango" still gets major play by DJs from London to Tokyo.
In This World is a highly desirable LP in the collectors' market and you can expect to pay between $150-$300 for an original pressing. However, a Japanese CD reissue is available through specialty shops like Chicago's Dusty Groove.
In This World was just the beginning of Adeniyi's collaboration with Wooten. The pair would team up again to form the Naptown Afro-Jazz Quintet. The quintet featured an all-star line up of local jazz luminaries. Steve Dokken, Jack Gilfoy and Royce Campbell rounded out the group.
The Naptown Afro-Jazz Quintet recorded one LP, a self-titled, privately released album issued in 1980. This LP remains the best recorded example of Adeniyi's work. The album's tracks alternate between typical jazz pieces and African percussion interludes, the latter of which give Prince Julius an opportunity to showcase his skills.
The following clip features three songs from the album, the traditional Yoruba drumming of "Praises to Buriamoh Atanda Adeniyi," a batucada-driven Brazilian jazz piece "Samba da Rio" and "Bambara," which features Julius playing a Malian-style balafon.
Unfortunately The Naptown Afro-Jazz Quintet album is difficult to track down and original copies often trade hands for $300 to $400. However, local label Audio Recon has acquired the rights to the album and has plans for a vinyl/digital reissue in the future.
The easiest and most affordable option for scoring an Adeniyi vinyl artifact is the academically titled 1979 recording Omo Obukun African Cultural Resource Center of Indianapolis Presents: Ancient Coronation Ceremony and Music of the Yoruba Recorded in Concert at The Indianapolis Children's Museum.
A live recording of an actual Yoruban coronation ceremony, the LP features Adeniyi performing and discussing the Nigerian drumming tradition. The Omo Obukun record is a staple in the "world music" section of local record shops, often priced under $10 bucks. The album also frequently pops up in record store dollar bins and thrift shops.