OLD WORLD (inc Asia, Arabia)
Latest Muzikifan Podcasts
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Is it Rolling, Bob? mixes recently reviewed tracks with Latin & Cuban gems
Tanzania trip presents rare Tanzanian oldies on vinyl, from 1978 to 1986
Updated 8 December 2019
Best of 2019 can be found Here
& podcast Here
Sound & VisionKokoko! NPR Tiny Desk concert
this is fantastic; sadly their EPs and LP dont live up to the excitement here
BBC4 documentary on Toots & the Maytals
Profile of Los Luzeros de Rio Verde, a Norteño band from Houston, comprised of three talented siblings
Blogger buddiesJohn Beadle at Likembe has been busy lately. I really enjoyed this one by Ebigbo International Band of Agoloma
Matthew Lavoie at Wealth of the Wise just posted a great collection of African brass bands!
NYE: Local gigs, SF Bay AreaThe Fillmore in SF just announced a Lakou Mizik and Preservation Hall Jazz Band double bill this New Year's Eve
SF Jazz will be hosting a party with Maceo Parker
Freight&Salvage, Berkeley, will match both of those with Jane Bunnett & Maqueque backed by Louie Romero and Mazacote; Afro-Cuban All Stars will be at the Freight in January
ObitRichard M. Shain reports:
"Camou Yandé, one of the mainstays of Senegalese Afro-Cuban music, has died in Dakar. Yandé was a wonderful sonero and a superb conguero. He was perhaps best known for his work in Nicolas Menheim's ensemble, one of the very best Senegalese Afro-Cuban orchestres. Yandé had great humor and warmth and enlivened any room he entered. Born in Casamance (Southern Senegal), he was one of many Casamance individuals who contributed to the artistic excellence of Senegalese Afro-Cuban music."
KINSHASA 1978 (ORIGINALS & RECONSTRUCTIONS) (Crammed CRAM294)
Here's a welcome reissue of what can truly be regarded as a seminal album of folkloric music which crossed over into the mainstream and created a slowly building titanic wave, beautifully realized as the Congotronics series produced by Vincent Kenis. In November 1978 Bernard Treton & Guy Level of OCORA (French national radio), made some field recordings of thumb piano music in Kinshasa. Four different groups were involved (one with accordéon instead of likembes), each representing a different ethnic group, but all of them had come from their homes in the bush to the capital city and decided they needed electricity to make their likembes audible over all the traffic and urban din. They took car batteries and rigged up buzzing contact mikes and added percussion out of found metal in the same auto wrecking yards (a "gonguist" and what remains of a cymbal, said the original notes). A double cassette (those were the days) came out with 4 half-hour tracks in 1987. Then two years later a CD with abridged versions of two of the tracks appeared. Now Crammed has gone back to the source tapes and taken different slices of music (some of it overlaps the issued parts). Konono No 1, who came from Angola, now move to prime place with a 28-minute opener (it was a minute shorter on the CD and a minute longer on the cassette). This wild epic jam was apparently played in the morning to allow the vocalists to sleep, according to the original notes. Yes, sleep, while the stacked 175-watt amps filled a massive stadium with a wall of sound. The vocalists, presumably unable to rest, yell through loud-hailers, so their voices are as distorted as the likembes.
But wait, in addition to the new CD, there's a bonus album of four disco remixes by Martin Meissonnier, who has worked with Fela, King Sunny, Manu Dibango and others. We already heard Konono guesting on "Earth Intruders" from the Volta album by Björk in 2007 and to me this sounds very much in that mode (although there were half a dozen alternate mixes of Björk's song). He starts by choosing a sample to loop and running it through a phaser while adding extra oomph to the percussion with a drum machine. But then the likembe patterns are already loops. The Sankayi track is called "Il ne faut pas intervenir" (Do not intervene) which is ironic, no?
12 BOMBAZOS BAILABLES (Vampisoul VAMPI 208)
Perfect for your next party, a budget sampler from the vast Discos Fuentes catalogue of cumbia, salsa and descarga. Discos Fuentes is celebrating its 85th anniversary and has had many scorching successes, so this sampler is a great introduction to the Colombian label that is now the longest-running independent record label in the world. From boogaloo to bomba to wiry guitar and accordeon-driven cumbia, they have packed dancefloors and the reissue series by Vampisoul, focusing on the hardest to find titles, has also started to become collector's items. The set kicks off with three relatively well-known tracks: Lito Barrientos' "Cumbia en Do Menor," "Arrebata" from Lisandro Meza and the Afro-Cuban classic "Coco May May," here performed by Combo los Yogas. I say well-known because you may recall the earlier cumbia craze of the late 80s when World Circuit licensed a couple of CDs from the Fuentes catalog. But then we plunge into some steamy numbers that are just as vital but less familiar, from Peregoya, Adolfo Echeverría, Michi Sarmiento (saxophonist, who had a great disc of reissues on Soundway in 2011) and the master, Fruko (known variously as "el Barbaro," and "el Bueno"-- he is a bassist and the label's A&R man). It's non-stop action, heavily percussive and with clarinet and saxes taking the lead. It does run out of steam in the last two tracks, but it you have danced through the preceding 35 minutes it's a chance to cool down.
THE ROUGH GUIDE TO BLUES DIVAS (Rough Guide RGNET1392CD)
For another take on the ladies who sang the Blues, Rough Guide has come up with 25 cuts. Often salacious and light-hearted these blues songs were among the most popular and certainly the first "race" records recorded and marketed to an eager public. They are also folk art in the finest sense coming out of vaudeville and bar rooms where the singers were backed by jazz musicians, rather than the more familiar country blues performances with one or two guitars (like Geeshie Wiley & L.V. who are not present). The early divas, Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith, were so influential their impact could still be heard in Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Mahalia Jackson and Janis Joplin. The Depression killed off the market for a lot of recorded music, so almost all of these sides were waxed in the mid to late 1920s. It's a glorious era, and Rough Guide has attempted to restore the sound though a couple, like the early "St Louis Blues" of Ester Bigeou could have been omitted for quality control. Maggie Jones' "Anybody here want to try my cabbage?" is pretty silly, even if it points the way to "Don't touch me tomato," and similar metonymic grocery ditties. There are no notes (not even the 5 photos are identified) so you will have to dig on your own if you want to know who the accompanists are. Lizzie Miles' "Electrician blues," for example, has fine piano which took a little sleuthing to find was Harry Brooks who also wrote "Ain't misbehavin." There's great trombone and a fine clarinet backing Sippie Wallace's "I'm a mighty tight woman." Turns out to be Johnny Dodds on clarinet and Honore Dutray on the 'bone, both of whom were with King Oliver and Louis Armstrong's bands. The great band backing Lena Wilson, I also learn from discogs, is the Nubian Five (who seem to be Italian-Americans, adding a layer of intrigue: I've heard of "passer blanc" but "passer noir"?). Edith Wilson's "My man is good for nothing but love" but he is "like a dove" and "fits me like a glove," whereas other ladies are pursued by everyone from King Solomon to the Prince of Wales.
The Year in Review, so far
(click on maps at the top of the page to get to continent of choice)
Congo Revolution is filed under Congo Classics 2
Cuban Golden Club went to Cuba pt 4
Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe's reissue Osondi Owendi is filled in Nigeria part II
Early Congo Music 1946-62 is filed in Congo Classics part 2
Rough Guide to Country Blues is filed under Blues (USA)
Salum Abdallah & Cuban Marimba Band are in Kenya/Tanzania 2
Africa Negra's latest Alia cu omali from Sao Tome is filed for convenience in Cabo Verde
Hama Sankare's Niafunke is filed in Mali part 5
I've added two book reviews to the bookshelf
Kwi Bamba are filed in Guinée
Bassekou Kouyate's Miri &
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.
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