Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Barbaros del Ritmo - Palo de Mayo (1971)

All around the edge of the Caribbean, where the sea meets the sand, the presence of African music is pervasive. Carried to the shores of various countries as slaves, or making their way there as escapees, Africans settled and integrated with local indigenous populations and descendants of colonial conquerors. While the music of Haiti and Cuba are completely familiar, and the cumbias of Colombia have swept the world, some less developed countries have equally compelling coastal music, varying from place to place depending on the cultural mix.

Palo de Mayo is Nicaragua's contribution to this musical diversity, and this was the first recorded Palo de Mayo album. Sung in English and mískito, the dominant indigenous language on Nicaragua's coast, this folkloric style is like mento on steroids. Most of the songs are Caribbean standards, but you will be surprised at the rendering. This is straight out party music, developed to celebrate May 1, harkening back to English celebrations from centuries ago.

Barbaros del Ritmo were the primary band of Bluefields, Nicaragua's small port, during the 60s and early 70s. This record was produced by Charlie Robb, the country's leading musician of the day, and his cosmopolitan experience added significantly to the horn arrangements. His trombone and sax contributions are essential. Despite its origin in one of the smallest of places, this music smokes. Try to be still, while listening to it. I predict you will be moving.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Le Gran Maitre Franco et T.P.O.K. Jazz - Ekaba-kaba (1987)

Today I post my fiftieth record since activating this site in March, with an amazing (to me) 30,000 page views by you. I feel privileged to have joined this community of impassioned music lovers, and grateful that I can contribute. To celebrate, I chose to share a mint condition recording from the immensely influential and profoundly important Franco Luambo Makiadi. Recorded in the same year as Attention Na Sida, and perhaps eclipsed by it, Ekaba-kaba is another brilliant musical effort.

This recording already was posted a few years ago on the wonderful Global Groove site, but not only is the recording offered here an exceptionally pristine one, I also think that Franco's legacy is so important, that propagating its preservation is a responsibility. Inspired by the excellent, informative WorldService site, I am making this mint recording available as a lossless FLAC file in addition to the normal MP3, limited to fifty downloads of the fiftieth post.
Enjoy! or FLAC while you can!

26 July - A kind listener noticed that there was a skip at the beginning of the second track of the recording I posted. I've replaced the 320 MP3 file with that track re-recorded, but for those of you who already downloaded the MP3 album, you can download the repaired track as an MP3 hereDue to upload restrictions, I'm afraid all FLAC downloaders will have to download the repaired track's FLAC file here and replace it manually. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dr. Nico & Empompo Deyesse - Derniere Memoire (1990?)

Legendary Congolese guitarist Dr. Nico (Nicolas Kasanda wa Mikalay) traveled to Benin around 1983 to make what would be his last recording, along with saxophonist Empompo Deyesse and a stellar band. Beginning with a definitive reprise of his classic song "Africa Mokili Mobimba," this wonderful record is testament to the virtuosity of the "god of the guitar." Three of the five songs on the album were written by Nico, and in each his guitar is dazzling. "Boninga," written by Deyesse, is also excellent, with memorable vocal harmonies that reflect the musicality of the talented saxophonist. This recording occurred during a flurry of creativity by Nico, after a decade of silence and obscurity. Sadly, his brilliance was lost in 1985, at the young age of forty-six.

I could find little trace of this record or the German label Voix d'Afrique, so am unsure of both the date of recording and publishing. If you know more details, please help us out in the comments.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pepe Kalle - Chante le Poète Simaro Massiya (1989)

Time to turn attention back to the Congo. Here is a splendid Pepe Kalle album that shines on every front. All of the songs are strong, but "Diarrhee Verbale (Tuba Tuba)" is tout puissant. This album is as much a Carlito one as it is Pepe Kalle; the duets shine throughout. I've always considered this one of Diblo Dibala's finest outings, as well, and I just wait for him to break out on every song. He takes over the sebene on "Tuba Tuba," Pepe Kalle's rich baritone sailing above. Papa Noel contributes wonderfully on lead, too, as do Simaro, Makosso and Lokassa on rhythm guitar. This is a fantastic, classic album.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Paul Matavire - Doctor Love Volume Two (1990)

When I entered the tiny record shop in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, in early 1991, the sound system pumped out a catchy tune that tipped slightly towards disco. It was "Dhindindi Fulltime," the current hit by Paul Matavire, backed by the Jairos Jiri Band. Matavire was a blind performer who became very popular throughout the country during the late '80s because of his fine singing and pointed, and sometimes humorous, songs. He generated some controversy for personal behavior, in the process, including rape charges. Like many Zimbabwean musicians, Matavire died young, leaving a fine legacy of music behind. This album is an excellent sample of it, with diverse songs including one slow one for tight dancing. It also has the closing reggae-chimurenga rocker "Pamberi Navajiri," which was collected on the classic Zimbabwe compilation, Take Cover!.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Khiama Boys - Kubva Kure (1990)

The Khiama Boys surfaced in 1988 and produced a series of albums throughout the next decade plus. Music built on energetic, harmonic singing, thumping beats and fast guitars, it reminds me of Bhundu Boys at their peak. No credits are given for the musicians, and as this recording took place as the band was going through some personnel changes, it is impossible for me to name them. The Music of Zimbabwe page has a brief discussion of the band, as well as a discography, and that may give some clues. At least four CDs were available for awhile, through Stern's, but they appear to be out-of-print now.

I am really enjoying my temporary immersion in Zimbabwe's dynamic music. There will be a few more records coming your way soon, but I recommend you snag this excellent, rare recording. Now.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

John Chibadura & The Tembo Brothers - Rugare (1988)

Continuing to explore the trove of records I picked up in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, in 1991, here is a solid album from John Chibadura & The Tembo Brothers. This band was the most successful proponent of sunguru music, a cross between rhumba and jit jive that likewise relies on blisteringly fast, intertwined guitars. Chibadura was an excellent guitarist and charismatic performer who sang of working class situations and issues. He released dozens of hit albums before his death in 1999 at the age of 42.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Mbilia Bel - Boya Ye (1985)

Another Mbilia Bel to lighten you up. Boya Ye is one of the early headliner albums of this chanteuse. She is backed by Tabu Ley Rochereau and his band Afrisa International, though none of the musicians are given credit on the record jacket. Three of the four songs are Tabu Ley's, and on two of them she sings sweetly. On "Tonton Skol," Mbilia barely surfaces in the ensemble singing, and she disappears altogether during the animation break. "Shawuri Yako" is sung in English over a plodding rhythm, and only irresistible guitar riffs make it a pleasurable listen.

While perhaps not the best Mbilia Bel record, this record has a couple of strong songs. Later in 1985 it was re-released by Stern's Africa, with one song substitution. Stern's also released a CD in 2006 that had both this album and another from 1985, Ba Gerants Ya Mabala, but I believe it is now out-of-print. There is a "best of" double CD from 2007 that is available here, and I just ordered one. So while you wait for delivery of yours, you can listen to this nearly pristine copy of the original release.
P.S. It is possible to earn money by posting links to purchases, as I have done here, but I am using a link that provides a small slice of the sale to my local non-profit, community radio station, KTNA.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Ephat Mujuru & The Spirit of the People - Mbavaira (1983)

Ephat Mujuru was a virtuoso on the mbira thumb piano central to Zimbabwean traditional music. Through a prolific career based in both Zimbabwe and the U. S., Mujuru had a tremendous impact through his recordings and many performances, as well as his extensive teaching of his art. Tragically he died unexpected ten years ago, at the young age of fifty-one.

This is one of several records cut by Ephat Mujuru in Zimbabwe during his tenure as a student in the U.S. in the '80s. It is incredibly short, containing four songs that could fit on one side of an LP, but it is a welcome uplifting listen for these tumultuous times. May it bring a bit of peace to you this weekend, wherever you are.