OLD WORLD (Asia, Arabia, Europe)
This month's muzikifan podcast features tracks from new releases Siba and Sahra Halgan,
NewsBritish Library Sound Archive has announced that you can now listen to nearly 7800 tracks from Guinea thanks to the massive effort of Graeme Counsel who has digitized their national archives. There were only 83 LPs in the Syliphone series, so this vastly expands the available music of the "golden age," post-Independence under president Sekou Touré, coming to our ears. There is some duplication in that all the 45s are presented as well as the LP compilations, but it is still 90% new to our ears. Read about it, & listen, here
New Djelimady Tounkara album on the horizon
Tourists with visasNoura Mint Seymali is touring North America this month
05 Feb Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda's
Dengue Fever are also on the road
March 04 @ The New Parish, Oakland, CA
The phenomenal Fanfare Ciocarlia are also on a world tour, to celebrate 20 years in show business. Dates here -- Hong Kong and UAE this month, Germany next, but coming your way in April!
In ConcertGautam and Sangati appear at Artists Television Access on Valencia Street, San Francisco, 7 pm Fri. Feb. 12th: $7 online / $10 door; with Gautam Tejas Ganeshan - song; Akshay Venkatesan - mridangam, Krishnan A. V. - ghatam, & others.
In MemoriamPianist and arranger Alfredo Valdés, Jr has died
Here's a July 2000 interview where he talks about SAR Records & Lassissi
Another sideman for the great Arsenio Rodriguez (who also appeared on the Cachao "Master Sessions"), trumpeter Chocolate Armenteros has died
MBARAKA MWINSHEHE & ORCHESTRE SUPER VOLCANO
SAHRA HALGAN TRIO
BOTTLENECK BLUES (Rough Guide RGNET1346DD)
If there is one American musical form that is truly imbued with magic it is the Mississippi Delta Blues. While every other form has its hagiographers, its explainers and apologists, the Blues remains a secret society of immutable dark secrets, Shakespearean levels of intrigue and even murder. Alone among American musics that have existed in the recorded era, it still has near-metaphysical puzzles hanging over it. The latest mystery is a third (second to be debunked) purported photo of Robert Johnson. You'd think this would be a minor issue, but fortunes hang on authentication. From the deepest depths of mythology scholars dredge up tales of artists like Geeshie Wiley, a black lesbian guitarist in the Depression who only left a handful of haunted songs. Then another was found, then someone conjectured a connection to another recording and so the legend, worthy of a Brecht opera, is erected. Now, the deck is shuffled again and the devil deals. Here's a shuffle and cut from the top of the deck laying out an incredible run of aces and diamonds (OK, I am gonna squelch this metaphor before I have to bring in spades 'n clubs). Each of these tunes is three minutes long and there are 25 of them here, giving a wide spectrum of styles, all using slide tools on the necks of their guitars. The effect is not unlike some single-stringed West African instruments (& like our beloved African music some of it is in terrible audio shape). Blind Willie Johnson (first of three Blind Willies on here!) kicks off with his gruff delivery of "Nobody's fault but mine"-- the slide echoes his words perfectly as he blends country blues and gospel. The giants of the style are included -- Charley Patton, Bukka White and Son House -- but you will also hear the immensely talented Curley Weaver and a personal favorite, Barbecue Bob. One notable omission is Mississippi Fred McDowell. I remember playing his 1969 album, I Do Not Play No Rock'N'Roll, where he explains how his guitar talks, countless times when it came out. Kokomo Arnold's "The Twelves" was included on the first iteration of this compilation (RGNET1151 2005), here he appears under the moniker Gitfiddle Jim. From the whine of a human voice to a train whistle perfected by the black players, the white country exponents (like also notably absent Roy Smeck) of the slide soon adapted the sounds of the Hawaiian guitar. As well as country duo Darby & Tarleton some real Hawaiians (Jim & Bob) are here: they moved to the mainland seeking fame and fortune. This more expansive style was soon evident in the work of Kokomo Arnold, Casey Weldon, Tampa Red and, new to me, Black Ace. Another nice surprise is Bayless Rose and his "Frisco Blues" from 1930. A quick web search suggests another mystery, no one is even sure of his race. There's room for many noted exponents of the potent form, from Blind Willie (Joe) Reynolds (author of "Outside Woman Blues") to Leadbelly ("C. C. Rider") and Gus Cannon ("Poor boy, long ways from home").
most recent reviews:
(click on maps at the top of the page to get to continent of choice)
Shujaat Husain Khan & Katayoun Goudarzi's Ruby is found in the Arabia section
Kandia Kouyate returns -- to Mali part 2
Cheikh Lô's Balbalou is filed in Senegal part 2
Vincent Segal & Ballake Sissoko can be found in Mali 2
Amadou Balaké's In Conclusion is found in Burkina Faso
Amara Touré is found in Senegal part 2
My Top Fifteen of 2015 can be found 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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