Friday, September 16, 2011

The Sound of Kinshasa: Guitar Classics from Zaire (1993)

John Storm Roberts was a musicologist fascinated by the cross-fertilization of music across the Atlantic, particularly Cuban music's profound impact on the development of popular music in Africa. Perhaps nowhere was more affected than the two Congos, where Latin rhythms catalyzed an explosion of musical creativity that produced the continent's most influential pop music.

Roberts was more than a musicologist; he also was an educator dedicated to sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm, and his great love of the music. How natural, then, for him to include a survey of early Congolese music as one of his Original Music releases.

As the liner notes (included in the download) explain, the album's tracks are presented chronologically in order to hear the evolution of rumba. It begins with a Hugh Tracey field recording, and quickly moves to selections from the most influential innovators, African Jazz, O.K. Jazz and African Fiesta. There are many outstanding tracks included, though standouts for me are the sublime "Madina" from Rochereau & Orch. African Fiesta and Franco's "Bomboka Awuti na New York." Although then there is Beguen Band's sultry "Christina," and. . .

I corresponded with John Storm Roberts quite a bit in the 90s, particularly in 1998 when Original Music was failing and about to cease its pioneering business. He was so passionate about the music and getting it out to as many people as possible, that I am confident he would endorse spreading the love here. This is the first CD I have posted, and I have to note that there are a few points in a couple of songs where Original Music's digital remastering is not perfect. Still, this is a great album, well worth listening to through a couple decades of wonderful music.
P.S. I have most Original Music releases, and over time will make them available here. Several of the best ones have been posted already on the eclectically awesome Holy Warbles.

12 comments:

ajnabi said...

Thank you very much.

Africolombia said...

Hi Roberth,
by the early 90s a great friend Sidney Reyes http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000048136462&ref=ts of Barranquilla, a researcher at Colombo African culture fan of African rhythms : Highlife, Benga, Chimurenga, Soukous.... and many others showed me a catalog of a small book Original Music with the prices Disc and references. Sidney sometimes was buy some productions to Mr John Storm they communicated communicated by FAX
I remember in some of the messages sent by John said he was learning Spanish through the exchange of messages THROUGH FAX

Gracias por Postear a Original Music!
Fabian-

øשlqæda said...

thx fer the shout. just found ya, so i have a lot of digital diggin to do as time allows. fabulous shrine you've erected here. will promptly add ya to me links of interest, fer what it's worth :)

øשlqæda said...

seems i added ya previously, illustrating how little time i've had to hunt & harvest the pearlesque droplets of me fellow blawgers. this one is superb of course. thx + praise fer the upgrade :)

Rhythm Connection said...

@fabian: your comment is what for me is so exciting and rewarding about what we all are doing - not only preserving the magnificent music, but also the stories that go along with it. ¡¿tal vez un dîa nos vemos en Colombia?!

@øשlqæda: respect and thanks.

dial africa said...

Thank you for remembering me; I had to search for some minutes but then found this record in my shelfes and I must listen to again!

Anonymous said...

Again thanks
sincerely
wuod k

Apurva Bahadur said...

Thank you for sharing this album, a bigger thanks for the detailed notes that describe the downloads. Apurva from Pune, India.

Louise Ungless said...

Fantastic site you have here! I'm digging through as I speak. I specialised in West Africa for my Ethnomusicology Masters - I'm enjoying the browse! : )

Spinning in Air said...

As far as the remastering not being perfect, I think you could lay the blame for that on the original sources, which were vinyl.

As for disseminating the music without respect to African copyright laws... not so sure that John Storm Roberts would have agreed with that. (But that's just my take.)

This is a wonderful album and was my introduction to Congo-style dance music.

Rhythm Connection said...

@Spinning: Actually I was not commenting on the vinyl defects, but on digital artifacts created through noise reduction software. Not absolutely sure what copyrights were held by JSR on his out-of-print compilation of out-of-print recordings, but am confident that his love of music surpassed his drive for profit, and that whatever copyrights may survive, do so in dusty file cabinets of corporations that direct zero royalties to the musicians.

Thanks for visiting.

Anonymous said...

i have just tried the link and the jazz police have killed holy warbles
; P