Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bembeya Jazz National - "Yekeke" (1986)

The third and final of this phenomenal series: Exquisite singing, luscious horns, dreamy and driving guitars, the timeless Malinke classic "Yekeke," and a lovely, nostalgic revisit to Cuban roots in "Yarabi." This album has it all.

If you would like a comprehensive collection of Bembeya Jazz National during the golden years, I recommend searching for Bembeya Jazz National: The Syliphone Years, a double-CD released by Sterns Africa a few years ago. But here is your chance to complete this superb collection from a golden era.

At least one friend had problems with this download file that might be a name-sensitivity issue with a particular browser/operating system combination, so I've re-upped this and the previous post's files.

Bembeya Jazz National - "Moussokoro" (1986)

After posting yesterday's tasty slice of Bembeya Jazz National, I was in the mood to listen to the other recordings done during the same Paris sessions. I thought you might be too, so decided instant gratification would satisfy us both! Besides, I thought this set of three albums would look great on the site, grouped together as they should be.

It's a pity that no information is provided on the albums concerning the many musicians who made these great albums, apart from Sekou Diabaté. I believe the lead singer is the fantastically talented Sekouba Diabaté, but who are the delicious horns, for example? Please contribute information if you can.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bembeya Jazz National (1985)

Bembeya Jazz National is an extraordinary band that helped define modern Guinean music during the fecund decade beginning in the late '60s. The untimely death of its leader and great singer, Aboubacar Camara, nearly killed the band, yet it surfaced with new vigor on this 1985 release, under the leadership of brilliant guitarist Sékou Diabaté. "Diamond Fingers", as he became known worldwide, is prominent on this excellent record.

This is another of the many Bembeya Jazz recordings you will eventually find on this site. It comes courtesy of my long-time, co-fanatic, music-collecting friend, J.D.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sam Mangwana - Canta Moçambique (1989)

This album collects two disparate recordings by the great Sam Mangwana: the Abidjan-recorded rumba set Consommez Local from 1982 and Canta Moçambique from 1983. Some compilation albums work very well, but the only thing that holds this one together is Mangwana's talent. Two songs are fine rumbas built for dancing, while the others are pointedly political homages to the anti-colonial struggle in Moçambique, sung in Portuguese with a completely different musical character. How could it be otherwise, recorded with local musicians in Moçambique?

While this album does not really hold together conceptually or musically, it does present two excellent recording sessions. That is fine by me, and a pleasure to hear.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Kaba Mane - Kunga Kungake (Oiseau Messager) (1989)

In a recent post I introduced Kaba Mane with his first record. As promised, here is his second, a similarly excellent, high energy production different than most anything you have heard. While the guitar solos of Joinito occasionally lean towards soukous, amply supported by bass aces Pablo Lubadika and Miguel Yamba, the chorus and rhythms are unique.

Life leaves me with few words today, so you will have to just listen and come up with your own.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Tshala Muana - Munanga (1988)

Congolese pop music has been dominated by men, as has the music of most African countries. During the '80s a few women emerged from the shadows of the grand rumba lingala bands, to make their mark. Tshala Muana was one of those, and this is a great album showcasing the traditional mutuashi rhythms she incorporated into her repertoire.

Souzy Kasseya arranged the album and provided solid lead guitar, supported by a stellar band including Maika Munan and Miguel Yamba on guitars, and Manu Lima and Phillippe Guez on keyboards. Only on one cut do programmed drums intrude, while on "Kapinga," the opening cut on side two, the synthesized sounds work perfectly.

This album was produced by the brilliant Ibrahima Sylla, and it reflects his astute packaging of talent to reach a global audience. Now it reaches you.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ledy Youla - Maitre Ledy Youla (1988)

Ledy Youla passed a formative time in Guinea's Boiro Band before spending years as a key saxophonist and vocalist in the Rail Band and Les Ambassadeurs Internationeax, before settling in Paris. This rare record is his only album. It's funny how one can forget about favorite music on records after being inundated with CDs for many years, but on hearing it again can be moved in exactly the same original way. From the excellent opening song, "Alou Kele Dabila," through the six following diverse tracks, I really like this record. I hope you will as well.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Kibwe - Casamance (1988)

Kibwe is an enigma. His debut album Casamance has a reggae-tinged title track that brings to mind Toure Kunda, and some people assumed that Kibwe was from Senegal. The reality is that he originates from Congo. Yet although the album was produced by soukous legend Lokassa Ya Mbongo, and lead guitar is taken by the wonderful Dally Kimoko, it is a Pan-African gumbo of music that reflects Kibwe's unique musical vision. There are Congolese threads, but Kibwe weaves in zouk, and several other international flavors to create one of the most interesting Afro-pop releases of 1988. The opening cut, La Nuit de Noces, is classic, a must for any dance floor.

Kibwe's musical peregrinations apparently led to wanderings that landed him in Canada. Search for other CDs he released through Kibwe Productions, Black Mormon, Dictatoria and Listen To Me, and all the links to the source are dead. There's a blog placeholder that indicates he is involved in a mind-boggling mix of commerce in Kibwe Enterprises, in addition to music, and another for a clothing company; in fact there is a plethora of blogs with no firm leads. On Facebook you can learn that he is running for the presidency of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Enigmatic.

I offer this album both as an old favorite and as a catalyst to find access to Kibwe's more recent recordings. Where can we get them??

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wganda Kenya - Que Buena Esta (1979)

One of the most influential bands from the Caribbean coast of Colombia has to have been Wganda Kenya. I first heard Wganda Kenya in Central America, where in the early '80s two songs from this album absolutely ruled the airwaves and parties: Rosalia and Suavecito (Avispa). Other cuts of this great band can be found on recent Soundways releases, but here is a classic album.

African culture is prominent around the entire Caribbean rim, including the coastal communities of Central and South America. Sample coastal music from any of the rim countries, and you will find direct links to ancestral African cultures. Wganda Kenya, taking a name that itself invokes Africa, takes cumbia and mixes the rhythms up to create something completely different, more African. I hope Fabián can gives us many details in the comments.
On a technical note: This is one of the most damaged records I own. The file I offer is remarkably cleaned using a program called ClickRepair, which removed a ton of surface noise without damaging the music, at least for my ears. The final cut on both sides have a vinyl material defect that creates some noise I could not remove. Oh well. If you would like to hear the album before processing with ClickRepair, you can get it here.

Apart from just plain great music, this post is un saludo a los muchos colombianos costeños que me han contactado através de este sitio. Thanks!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Samuel Ateba Mengue - Mebok Me Bulu (1980s)

Samuel Ateba Mengue is a session percussionist who has participated in many recordings, but I think this is his only record. Along with diverse percussion, Ateba sings throughout this set of traditional dance songs. There is very little information about this musician, and I only deduce he is from Gabon, based on the personnel participating on the album. Chief among them are Pierre Akendengue and his frequent choral singer, in his early recordings, Marianne Ndjongue.

Yet the structure of songs and the important dual role of response vocals as both rhythm and chorus, so similar to Akendengue's music, suggests Gabon. If you have further information about Ateba or this music, or even the exact date this record was released, please enlighten us in the comments.
Moments after this post went live, Aduna helpfully commented with a link to Ateba's MySpace page, which indicates that he originates form Cameroon. I am so impressed with this online community!