OLD WORLD (inc Asia, Arabia)
Latest Muzikifan Podcasts
March 9 podcast, "The Perfect Date," featured Sali Sidibe, Louis Armstrong, Kwi Bamba, Orch Abass, Ry-Co Jazz, Hossam Gania (reviewed last month), Pivi, Baobab, Wendo, Ken Boothe, & a cast of thousands
"Spring is Sprung" is a mix of blues, Highlife roots, jazz, samba and music from Cameroun, Angola, Cuba, and Kenya
Subscribe on podomatic to be notified of updates.
Updated 1 April 2019
"If you love music and have made it part of your life, the thing you most love will be finding vinyl records."A short film on the renowned Gladys Palmera archive in Spain; the full 15-min documentary here (not subtitled)
And, after spotting a rarity in the Gladys Palmera film, I've updated the Arsenio Rodriguez discography
Not sure who Craft Recordings are but they seem to be serious capitalists. As Keith Richards said, It's odd that Americans are such staunch capitalists since so few of them have any capital. In addition to the Cuban Jam Sessions reviewed below, Craft has launched some reissues from Stax and other labels for Record Store Day. Most interesting is the 8LP or 5CD set of John Coltrane's 1958 Prestige recordings. The vinyl will set you back $259.80! The 5CDs are a mere $75. Fortunately I have the official Prestige 6CD box set which came out in 2006, called Fearless Leader, including all the sessions where he was in charge. A few different titles are included where Trane was a sideman, but the "official set" includes a disc of 1957 recordings also (from the album Coltrane, his first as a leader). Coltrane had graduated from Miles and Monk's bands but here has the amazing ex-boxer Red Garland on piano, with Paul Chambers bass and Art Taylor drums on many of the best tracks. A few other luminaries guest: Mal Waldron on piano, Freddie Hubbard or Donald Byrd on trumpet, etc. A cornerstone of any jazz collection.
touringTuareg rocker Mdou Moctar, reviewed below, is on a North American tour this month, playing small venues in Minneapolis, Olympia, Portland, Oakland, Seattle, Chico, Austin, etc. In addition to performing he will screen his desert adaptation of "Purple Rain"!
obitsMalian sax player, Issa Cisshoko has died. He played with many bands, notably orchestre Baobab. He started out with Les Vedettes of salsa singer Laba Sosseh, before joining the Star Band and then leading the horn section for Youssou Ndour's Super Etoile. He was also featured on two excellent CDs on the Popular African Music label Embouteillage by Super Cayor de Dakar and Los Afro-Salseros de Senegal en la Habana. Here is orchestre Baobab (with Issa as first soloist) at the Edge of the World Festival in France
Simaro Lutumba, one of the main songwriters of Franco's TPOK Jazz, died in a Paris hospital at the end of March. He had just turned 81. His biggest hits were "Mabele (ntotu)," "Lezi," "Maya," "Faute ya Commerçant" and "Testament ya Bowulé." (Thanks to Ken Braun for finding the last clip: Xmas 1986 with Simaro on acoustic guitar)
THE COMPLETE CUBAN JAM SESSIONS (Panart/Craft Recordings)
I was curious about this box set which appeared to much hype at the end of last year. I checked my holdings to find I have 3/5 of the set in the form of a CD of two of the albums called Cuban Jam Session vol 1 which came out on Rodven in 1987, and the original vinyl of the Fajardo album which was recorded in 1962. The Cubans are masters of the descarga or jam but the discs I have were not on my "must play" list so I thought I would revisit my stash before splurging on the fancy reboot. Fajardo and his tweety flute left me cold, so I put on the CD which has the Niño Rivera and Julio Gutierrez sides. Again I was not moved out of my chair. Half of the first volume by Gutierrez was OK (side B of Vol 1) and two cuts by Rivera (A2, B1). But again the tweaky flute bugged me. To my surprise I could not find the Cachao album Jam Sessions in Miniature (1957) anywhere in my collection, despite being a huge fan and having ten albums by him. My first thought was someone buying this box might dump their original, so I scouted the record stores. No luck. The next question was: is the sound any better on the box set since it is pretty dull on the originals (on some tracks the flute seems to have been recorded in the bathroom). A friend let me hear the flac of the reissue. I don't hear any improvement: it sounds identical. No question there are some great moments on here: "Theme for conga" by Julio Gutiérrez y Su Orquesta which closes disc one is excellent. The stand out, on relistening, is the set by tresero Niño Rivera. His band overlaps with Cachao's: Orestes Lopez, Cachao's brother (& no less important in the history of Cuban music), plays piano and we hear "El Negro" Vivar on trumpet, Guillermo Barreto on timbales, Yeyo Iglesias on bongos, Gustavo Tamayo on güiro and now-legendary tumbador Tata Güines -- all from the Cachao band. It's this rhythm section that makes the two discs at the heart of the set interesting. The two montunos on Vol 3 are exceptional. Laid back, not cluttered nor forced like the jams on the two Gutiérrez LPs. The Cachao disc starts predictably, partly because they were asked to keep each jam to under three minutes (what is this -- wax cylinder technology!?). Different guest artists step up: trumpet, tenor and baritone saxes and a trombone, but it's not until Niño Rivera comes in for "Oye mi tres montuno" that we get to a sparkling spontaneous jam. Brother Orestes also turns the trick on "Malanga Amarilla," a piano montuno with a great timbales break by Guillermo Barreto. Side B kicks off with the much-anthologized "Cogele el golpe"-- an outstanding jam. It turns out I had the best tracks on anthologies (such as Cuban Counterpoint from Rounder), and on searching deeper I do have the entire Cachao set on a Caney CD from 1994 called From Havana to New York, sequenced differently, which actually does sound better, so I saved myself $100.
This is a fun set of traditional Colombian music, delivered with verve by a group of expatriate Colombians and locals residing in France. They got the beat! plus tight horn arrangements, probably due to the fact that they were formed around sax player Boris Pokora and trombonist Stéphane Montigny who composed most of the music. They teamed up with singer Alexandra Charry who had returned to Colombia to explore her roots and rediscover the music. The line-up features trumpet, acoustic and electric guitar, bass, congas, a percussionist who plays tambora, timbales, bombo, guiro etc, and a trap drummer. Some members met in a music conservatory in France and all have played in various groups before coming together behind this new project. To kick things off they got popular Afro-Colombian vocalist Nidia Góngora to duet on the lead-off track. Their debut is musically tight, diverse and sweet. They close with a hot merengue which has a fake ending, a real riot.
(click on maps at the top of the page to get to continent of choice)
I've added two book reviews to the bookshelf
Kwi Bamba are filed in Guinée
Bassekou Kouyate's Miri &
Orch Shika Shika's Hit after hit is filed in Kenya part 2
The latest offering from Docteur Nico Dieu de la Guitare is reviewed in Congo Classics part 2
Lenine's latest Em transito, as well as
The Top Ten New releases and Top 8 Reissues of 2018 are hereThe Top Tens of 2017 are HERE
The Top 16 of 2016 is HERE
Top 15 of 2015 is HERE
My Top Ten of 2014 can be found HERE
My Top 12 of 2013, with best reissues, etc, is online HERE
My Top Twelve of 2012 is HERE
My Top Ten of 2011 can be found HERE
My Top 9 of 2010 is online HERE
Click HERE for my top 10 of 2009
Click HERE for my top 9 of 2008
Click HERE for my top 10 of 2007
Click HERE for my top 11 of 2006
MY BEST-SELLING BOOK!"Essential reference guide to the Congo guitar king" -- SONGLINES 64 **** (four stars)
"I do not know anybody who has such immense knowledge of African music. Congratulations." -- Gerhard G (a purchaser)
BACK IN PRINT (Second edition, November 2012)
A DISCOGRAPHY OF DOCTEUR NICO
Poltroon Press, 2012, expanded to 88 pages; list price $19.95.
all of the writing on this site is copyright © 2004-2019 by alastair m. johnston
Your comments are welcome. Or join the discussion on facebook
If you are not already a subscriber, send me an e-mail to be notified of updates, or fill in the box above. Please note none of the music discussed on the site is for sale by me. You can reach me at contact[at-sign]muzikifan[dot]com