Guitarist, composer Niels Brouwer and vocalist Monica Akihary are the core of BOI AKIH, which began in 1997. The duo has developed a distinctive repertoire for the ensemble, one in which cultural roots – musical traditions from the Moluccas (Melanesia/Oceania), Sunda and Bali, Dutch (European) jazz and improvised music, classical Indian music and traditional African music – form the basis for composition, improvisation and text. BOI AKIH has grown into an ensemble with a striking sound and its very own unmistakable musical idiom.
The search for its ‘own’ roots has led to BOI AKIH’s unique sound. Sound exploration, compositional forms, improvisation and performance have been essential facets from the very beginning. The development of Monica Akihary’s and Niels Brouwer’s distinctive vocal and guitar styles have given sounds and elements from various musical traditions a new meaning within the national an international music world.
In 1998 the linguistic community hailed Brouwers and Akihary’s texts as a phenomenon. While Boi Akih’s music subtly refers to Moluccan roots, it is above all through language that Akihary honours her heritage. She writes and sings in her father’s native language, regarded as moribund by the scientific world. Since 1998 Brouwer and Akihary have been working with Dutch (University Leiden) and Australian (Monash University) linguists who study Haruku. With their help and support, Boi Akih not only keeps the tradition alive, but also employs the language in its most authentic form, poetic self-expression.
The French press, reviewing the CD Uwa I, wrote, ‘ The combination of European, Indian and Indonesian cultures on the one hand with jazz on the other, gives BOI AKIH a sound and colour unique in the current musical landscape.’ The German press is also full of praise for the innovations: ‘four musical world views that groove convincingly, but also a new concept of cultural symbiosis through improvisation.’ No surprise then that in France Uwa I was chosen as the year’s best world jazz CD.