Frankie Tontoh is a London-based Ghanaian freelance drummer, arranger and composer, Frankie Tontoh has stated that as far as he is concerned the Ghanaian music industry today has witnessed a lot of progress, compared to some years back.
He said he had realized that the style of Ghanaian musicians had changed and that all the musicians were fusing their songs with traditional rhythms to make them unique on the music market. Frankie Tontoh, who is the son of Mac Tontoh of Osibisa fame, began his musical career at the age of 14. As jazz was his fatherâ€™s choice of music, he developed the habit of listening to jazz music stars like Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan among others, to develop his musical skills.
â€œMy earliest drumming influence though, was Harvey Mason, having heard George Bensonâ€™s â€œBreezinâ€ & â€œIn Flightâ€ albums.
Later on, I went back to listening to â€˜straight aheadâ€™ players like â€˜Phillyâ€™ Jo Jones, Art Blakey, Max Roach & Tony Williams. The one drummer who changed the way I â€˜thoughtâ€™ about drumming was Steve Gadd. I heard him on Chuck Mangioneâ€™s â€œXI Commandmentâ€ & decided that this was the way ahead as far as I am concernedâ€.
After studying privately with a couple of teachers, Frankie Tontoh returned to the piano and did two years study at the Trinity College of Music in UK. He played in several bands with his close friend Courtney Pine, including disco group Hi-Tension.
He added that in 1982, he performed alongside Osibisa, touring extensively around the world for 4 years. In 1986 he formed the Jazz Warriors with Courtney Pine, and later formed his own group, Desperately Seeking Fusion, influenced by fusion giants of the time, John Scofield, Mike Stern & Weather Report.
Frankie Tontoh indicated that in 1989, one of his friends, Tim Goldsmith recommended him to pop/folk singer Tanita Tikaram. He then joined Scottish-Indie band Aztec Camera for 3 years.
Since 1994, he had played for the following: Level 42, Omar, Carleen Anderson, Mica Paris, Zucchero, Al Green, Conner Reeves, D Note, Workshy, BB Mak, Edwyn Collins, Gary Barlow, Incognito, Lewis Taylor and a host of others.
In 1996, Frankie worked with George Michael on his MTV Unplugged concert, which led to 1999â€™s â€œSongs From The Last Centuryâ€ CD.
â€œSince September 2000, I have been RnB/UK garage superstar Craig Davidâ€™s musical director. Iâ€™ve toured & recorded with him for 6 years now.
â€œCurrently, I have a solo project called â€˜Celebration Of Lifeâ€™ with an album called â€˜Black Is The Colourâ€™, ready to come out soon.â€