Seasoned composer and saxophonist Joseph Ngala - fondly known as Mzee Ngala, is without doubt an accomplished and veteran musical artiste. His career stretches back to the 1960s. He may be edging into his sunset years. But on purely professional merit, Ngala reigns supreme as a prolific composer of cultural Swahili love ballads.

For over four decades, the saxophonist's concerts showcase his brand of bango music - a blend of traditional Giriama rhythms, slow-tempo rhumba and subtle contemporary influences. Though not widely known on the local scene, the growth of his illustrious career has been gradual, rising in stature through years of persistence and hard work.

Ngala formed his initial outfit, the Blue Boys Orchestra (BBO) comprised of old school mates in the early 1960s. It was a launching pad for budding musicians from region including the late Fadhili Williams. In later years, his musical stints with Hodi Boys, Bahari Boys band formerly Soul Brothers and Teusi Five outfit, went a long way to ground his professionalism and prowess in varied music making aspects.

Teusi's inevitable split in the 1980s, gave rise to Bango Sounds band. The group's name is borrowed from bango style of music Ngala has popularized along the coast and in parts of the country. His songs are often described as a blend of local rhumba, traditional Portuguese genres, Arabic influenced taarab music and a dash of Afro-jazz with lyrics sang in Swahili or the local coastal Giriama language.

Some of Ngala's classic compositions include the evergreen, mellow tune Mama Emmy and Utanichoka. Equally popular are his renditions of traditional all-time favourite melodies Pekeshe, Mangale, multi-lingual cut Musinzili, Malaika, Jambo Bwana and Teusi.

Joseph Ngala