In memoriam Tony Oladipo Allen (RIP) -Fela Anikulapo Kuti & Africa 70 Organization

In memoriam Tony Oladipo Allen (RIP)

Tony Oladipo Allen

Tony Oladipo Allen (born July 20th, 1940, in Lagos, Nigeria, died April 30th, 2020 in Paris, France) was a Nigerian drummer, composer, and songwriter who lived and worked in Courbevoie, France.

Tony Allen played drums for Fela Kuti’s Africa 70 and Egypt 80 organizations, pioneering the unique beat and vibe of Afrobeat music which combines polyrhythmic influences of Africa with the breakbeats and extended jams of the American funk and R&B which reached Nigeria in the late 60s and early 70s.

Afrobeat music has since re-influenced western dance music in fusion genres like broken beat and future jazz, as in the music of Bugz In The Attic.

see also my previous post  Fela Kuti -the black President -Yellow Fever -Decca Afrodisia 1976

I can remember the night of the concert by Fela Kuti in Amsterdam on 28 November 1983 in Paradiso, the great temple of pop, like it is yesterday.  Everyone in Amsterdam and within the borders of  Holland who loved African music must have been there as it was sold out, with many people outside trying to get in…

please note that the pics used here are from a different concert, not the Paradiso concert 1983

It seemed like  some royalty was in town  for a visit. The hall was packed and it took a long time before the show began. The audience was getting restless, whipped up by the hot Afro-beat that the DJ  played beforehand, and after much cheering and applause the stage was finally lit. Or rather, a follow spot captured a naked woman painted in bright war paint who entered the stage on hands and feet, chained to the neck drawing another six or seven slaves with her in captivity. These women were the wives of Fela Kuti who held  the chain around their necks tightly.

The band started this hypnotic Afro-beat; the song “Political Statement Number 1” and Fela took place behind the organ, sang and played soprano sax. Not at the same time but stretched out over a three hour set. The dancers and the band whipped each other into a frenzy until the man behind the microphone started “Sorrow, Tears & Blood”. Fela with his entourage glowed in the dark.

The room was boiling, the crowd delirious, the show transcended the regular program of standard performances into a very intense experience, it felt like a spiritual political meeting with Fela Kuti as high priest, as a leader.

This unique concert was recorded from the mixing desk at the night, mixed in London by Dennis Bovell and later released as the album “Music Is The Weapon” in 1984.

I will present the complete album in a following post so here today I propose an early 12” that was originally released in Nigeria by Kalakuta Records  in 1977. This disc features one of the biggest hits by Fela Kuti, then still performing under the name ‘Africa 70 Organization‘;  ‘Sorrow, Tears & Blood’ and ‘Colonial Mentality’ 

The label does not mention any titles or credits but the name of the artist and label info.

Fela Kuti & Africa 70 Organization -Colonial Mentality

Fela Anikulapo Kuti & Africa 70 Organization – Kalakuta Records Nigeria KK001 -1977

All pictures by Bernard Matussiere- November 28th 1983

In memoriam Tony Oladipo Allen (RIP)-Fela Kuti’s Africa 70 and Egypt 80

In memoriam Tony Oladipo Allen (RIP)

Tony Oladipo Allen

Tony Oladipo Allen (born July 20th, 1940, in Lagos, Nigeria, died April 30th, 2020 in Paris, France) was a Nigerian drummer, composer, and songwriter who lived and worked in Courbevoie, France.

Tony Allen played drums for Fela Kuti’s Africa 70 and Egypt 80 organizations, pioneering the unique beat and vibe of Afrobeat music which combines polyrhythmic influences of Africa with the breakbeats and extended jams of the American funk and R&B which reached Nigeria in the late 60s and early 70s.

Afrobeat music has since re-influenced western dance music in fusion genres like broken beat and future jazz, as in the music of Bugz In The Attic.

see also my previous post  Fela Kuti -the black President -Yellow Fever -Decca Afrodisia 1976

I can remember the night of the concert by Fela Kuti in Amsterdam on 28 November 1983 in Paradiso, the great temple of pop, like it is yesterday.  Everyone in Amsterdam and within the borders of  Holland who loved African music must have been there as it was sold out, with many people outside trying to get in

the pics used in this post are not from the Amsterdam 1983 concert.

It seemed like  some royalty was in town  for a visit. The hall was packed and it took a long time before the show began. The audience was getting restless, whipped up by the hot Afro-beat that the DJ  played beforehand, and after much cheering and applause the stage was finally lit. Or rather, a follow spot captured a naked woman painted in bright war paint who entered the stage on hands and feet, chained to the neck drawing another six or seven slaves with her in captivity. These women were the wives of Fela Kuti who held  the chain around their necks tightly.

The band started this hypnotic Afro-beat; the song “Political Statement Number 1” and Fela took place behind the organ, sang and played soprano sax. Not at the same time but stretched out over a three hour set. The dancers and the band whipped each other into a frenzy until the man behind the microphone started “Sorrow, Tears & Blood”. Fela with his entourage glowed in the dark.

The room was boiling, the crowd delirious, the show transcended the regular program of standard performances into a very intense experience, it felt like a spiritual political meeting with Fela Kuti as high priest, as a leader.

This unique concert was recorded from the mixing desk at the night, mixed in London by Dennis Bovell and later released as the album “Music Is The Weapon” in 1984.

I will present the complete album in a following post so here today I propose an early 12” that was originally released in Nigeria by Kalakuta Records  in 1977. This disc features one of the biggest hits by Fela Kuti, then still performing under the name ‘Africa 70 Organization‘;  ‘Sorrow, Tears & Blood’ and ‘Colonial Mentality’ 

The label does not mention any titles or credits but the name of the artist and label info.

Fela Kuti & Africa 70 Organization -Colonial Mentality

Fela Anikulapo Kuti & Africa 70 Organization – Kalakuta Records Nigeria KK001 -1977

All pictures by Bernard Matussiere- November 28th 1983

Francis Bebey -Black Tears (1965)

this rare 10″ by guitarist Francis Bebey was found in a box of records that I got from a good friend. Thanks for such a wonderful gift!

Unfortunately this record had once been a bit too close to a heat source, causing damage to the edge of the cover and the disc itself. The edge of the record has a warp so that side A can no longer be played, but fortunately side B plays quite nicely.
Because these recordings are so beautiful and unique, I want to share them with you.

see also Yuletide Griots Riot

Francis Bebey, who was born on the 15th of July 1929  in Douala Cameroon, is both a composer and guitarist.

His compositions as presented to the public during various European recitals, are neither African folk music nor jazz, nor Western classical music. His music remains deeply attached tot he values of the African negro tradition, as he knew and lived it during his childhood.

About ‘Black Tears’

Francis Bebey in a Q/A with Lepold Sedar Senghor -from a 1965 interview with Francis Bebey on the liner notes of the original cover.

A: ‘Black Tears ‘has three main themes: the first one represents tears of sadness and despair; the third, which is gayer, denotes tears of joy.

Q: You mean laughing till one cries?

A: Exactly

Q: and the little tune which recurs from time to time, and on which the piece ends?

A: That is the theme of Life –always serene and indifferent to sorrow, pettiness or racial prejudice –Life, which has always been beautiful, ever since Creation

Q: in the  tears of joy passage we hear a real African tom-tom  sequence. Who accompanied you in this movement?

A: No-one

Q: You mean you superimposed it later?

A: Not at all. It was played at the same time, on the guitar. Of course, I was very happy when the idea came to me, and when I was first able to realize it. But I think we have talked enough –how about some music?

From the liner notes of Francis Bebey –Pieces pour guitare seule –Compositions for solo guitar

(Ocora Records OCR 27 –France – 1965)

in times of trouble

Comfort Me….in times of trouble.

Stay safe and healthy wherever you are in the World.

‘Ndibkhumbule, Nkosi (Remember Me, Oh Lord)’ -sung in Xhosa
soprano, choir & piano
The Lord bless you and keep you’
choir & orchestra

from a live recording of a concert held in Port Elizabeth (EC) on Saturday 5th March 2005.
Visit of Chief Apostle Richard Fehr.
Richard Fehr (15 July 1939 – 30 June 2013) was the seventh Chief Apostle (international church president) of the New Apostolic Church from 22 May 1988 to 15 May 2005.

The New Apostolic Church (NAC) is a chiliastic Christian church that split from the Catholic Apostolic Church during an 1863 schism in Hamburg, Germany.

Comfort Me’ by Shirley Caesar
US gospel singer

Manu Dibango: African saxophone legend dies of Covid-19

a child raised in the ‘Hallelujah’ has died

one of the first BIG dance tunes of my youth was ‘Soul Makossa’ in 1972. It was played on repeat in clubs and the radio in Belgium, France, everywhere. And it still packs floors. Such a timeless Afro-groove, what a great musician Manu Dibango was. So sad to know that he is the first musician to die from the Covid-19 virus. Such a loss. Manu Dibango (born December 12th, 1933, Douala, Cameroon-died March 24th, 2020, in Paris, France) RIP.

see also Blue Elephant -Manu Dibango 1974

Manu Dibango -OST ‘How To Make Love To A Negro Without Getting Tired’ 1989

Manu Dibango vs Chateau Flight -Soul Fiesta

Dig the Latin bag, bro!

Emmanuel N"Djoke Dibango, known as Manu Dibango performs during his concert at the Ivory Hotel Abidjan in 2018

The African saxophone legend Manu Dibango has died in Paris after catching coronavirus.

Dibango – best known for his 1972 hit Soul Makossa – is one of the first global stars to die from Covid-19.

The 86-year-old fused jazz and funk music with traditional sounds from his home country, Cameroon.

He collaborated with numerous artists over a long career, including US pianist Herbie Hancock and Nigeria’s Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti.

The Cameroonian musician filed a lawsuit in 2009 saying Michael Jackson had stolen a hook from his song, Soul Makossa, for two tracks on the world’s best-selling album, Thriller. Jackson settled the case out of court.Media captionManu Dibango speaks about some of his memorable outings

“It is with deep sadness that we announce you the loss of Manu Dibango, our Papy Groove,” a statement on his official Facebook page read.

His funeral will take place in “strict privacy”, the statement read, asking instead for people to send condolences by email and adding that a tribute will be arranged “when possible”.

Top African musicians Angelique Kidjo and Youssou Ndour have led the tributes.

‘Giant of African music’

On Twitter, Kidjo shared a video, recorded two months ago, of her rehearsing the end of Soul Makossa with Dibango.

“You’re the original giant of African music and a beautiful human being,” the Beninois performer wrote.

Twitter post by @angeliquekidjo: VerifiedDear #ManuDibango, you’ve always been there for me from my beginnings in Paris to this rehearsal just 2 months ago! You re the original Giant of African Music and a beautiful human being. This coda of #SoulMakossa is for you!

Ndour called the Cameroonian a “genius” on the saxophone and described him as a “big brother, a pride for Cameroon and all of Africa”.

Both Ndour and Kidjo, along with other stars such as Salif Keita, Papa Wemba and King Sunny Ade, worked on Dibango’s 1994 album Wakafrika.

Speaking to the BBC in 2013 about how he wanted to be remembered, Dibango said: “When you are gone, it is finished, it is not up to me to say, ‘I want this.'”

Archive shot of Manu Dibango
Image captionManu Dibango, seen here in 1970, drew on a wide range of musical influences

Born in the Cameroonian city of Douala in 1933, which at the time was under French colonial rule, Dibango’s musical career spanned across more than six decades.

‘Raised in the Hallelujah’

He grew up in a religious Protestant family, the AFP news agency reports, and his first musical influences came from the church.

“I’m a child raised in the ‘Hallelujah’,” he is quoted as saying.

But he drew on many influences and was well known for his eclectic style.

“I play different kinds of music before playing my own. I think that that’s very important to play other people’s music,” he told the BBC in 2017.

“As you are African they expect you always to play African. Forget that. You’re not a musician because you’re African. You’re a musician because you are musician. Coming from Africa, but first, musician.”

Manu Dibango
Image captionDibango failed his high school exams after being distracted by music

He was sent to high school in France, which is where he learnt to play the saxophone.

The first tune he performed, in front of fellow students, was When the Saints Go Marching In, he told the BBC.

To the disappointment of his father, Dibango failed his high school exams and took up music performing in nightclubs in Belgium instead, AFP reports.

source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-52017834?fbclid=IwAR2r0uLDS2rCJiAxKCFqF95c7CHHUnwXhP9gfLeL3E1pCeK2X05g01KCwJs

a tribute to the Sharpeville massacre March 21, 1960

on my recent trip to South Africa last January 2020 I found this LP ‘How Long’, a recording of an obscure musical, written in 1973 by Gibson Kente (born July 23, 1932, Duncan Village, near East London, South Africa – died November 7, 2004, Soweto, South Africa).

Gibson Kente was a South African playwright, screenplay writer and musician. He also taught many high profile South African performers how to act, sing and dance, including Brenda Fassie and Mbongeni Ngema.

Gibson Kente

One of his earlier works ‘Sikalo’ (1966) was already in my collection but ‘How Long’ is another eye-opener. Musically the compositions are quite diverse, from African jazz to hymns, beautifully performed by a group of singers and musicians unknown to me; Zakithi Diamini, Zakes Kuse, Mary Twala, Ndaba Twala and others.

The condition of the LP was poor, scratched vinyl, torn worn cover with the name Bra Cecil on the labels, it clearly was once a well loved record in a township somewhere….

I thought that the theme of this musical and the music fits the date and spirit of this post perfectly. The musical ‘How Long’ is a document that reminds me of the horror of the Sharpeville massacre on March 21, 1960. Exactly 60 years ago. Today 21st March 2020 we commemorate Sharpeville and Human Rights Day.

Both sides of this LP can be heard in their integrality with all the crackle and hiss but the music still stands proud.

Read the story below on Sharpeville….

Tracklist

Overture (African Jazz)2:30
How Long (African Ballad)2:30
Thixo Mkhululi (African Hymn)0:52
Themba Limbi (African Hymn)2:55
Africa Sings (African Folk)2:30
The Lord Is My Shepherd (African Hymn)2:30
Uthando Noxolo (African Hymn)2:22
Batata (African Jazz)2:45
Dustbin (African Jazz)2:45
Kode-Kubenini (African Jazz)2:15
My Belief (African Ballad)3:00
Black Child (African Ballad)2:30
Hamba Afrika (African Folk)1:50
Have Faith In God (African Hymn)1:40
Uyandi Phatha Phatha (African Vocal Jive)2:20

Sharpeville massacre

SOUTH AFRICAN HISTORY [1960]WRITTEN BY: 

LAST UPDATED: Mar 14, 2020 See Article History

Sharpeville massacre, (March 21, 1960), incident in the black township of Sharpeville, near VereenigingSouth Africa, in which police fired on a crowd of black people, killing or wounding some 250 of them. It was one of the first and most violent demonstrations against apartheid in South Africa.

apartheid: aftermath of the deadly Sharpeville demonstration
apartheid: aftermath of the deadly Sharpeville demonstrationThe wounded being tended to after police opened fire on an antiapartheid demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, 1960.Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), a splinter group of the African National Congress (ANC) created in 1959, organized a countrywide demonstration for March 21, 1960, for the abolition of South Africa’s pass laws. Participants were instructed to surrender their reference books (passes) and invite arrest. Some 20,000 blacks gathered near a police station at Sharpeville, located about 30 miles (50 km) south of Johannesburg. After some demonstrators, according to police, began stoning police officers and their armoured cars, the officers opened fire on them with submachine guns. About 69 blacks were killed and more than 180 wounded, some 50 women and children being among the victims. A state of emergency was declared in South Africa, more than 11,000 people were detained, and the PAC and ANC were outlawed. Reports of the incident helped focus international criticism on South Africa’s apartheid policy. Following the dismantling of apartheid, South African President Nelson Mandela chose Sharpeville as the site at which, on December 10, 1996, he signed into law the country’s new constitution.

source; The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica

A Tribute to South African Airways

A Tribute to South African Airways -Suid Afrikaanse Lugdiens-

now that most airlines face such hard times, I would like to pay this tribute to South African Airways. The expiration date of this company is no longer guaranteed, but it would be a real disaster for South Africa if this beautiful company disappears. Come on people, fly SAA as long as you can.

this rare single was written and recorded by famous band leader Dan Hill. The text in Afrikaans was written by Anton De Waal, the English words by Ralph Trewhela.

Used as a promotional tool around early 1960s, this recording depicts clearly the self-confidence and boosts the success of South African Airways during the The Jet Age: 1953–1973

lucky you in the blue

South African Airways was founded in 1934 after the acquisition of Union Airways by the South African government. The airline was initially overseen and controlled by South African Railways and Harbours Administration. Anti-apartheid sanctions by African countries deprived the airline of stopover airports during apartheid, forcing it to bypass the continent with long-range aircraft. During this time, it was also known by its Afrikaans name, Suid-Afrikaanse Lugdiens (SAL, lit. ”South African air service”), which has since been dropped by the airline. In 1997 SAA changed its name, image and aircraft livery and introduced online ticketing services. In 2006, SAA was split from Transnet, its parent company, to operate as an independent airline. It remains one of the largest of South Africa’s state owned enterprises. SAA owns Mango, a low-cost domestic airline, and has established links with Airlink and South African Express. It is a member of the Star Alliance.

but for how long?

On 5 December 2019, the Government of South Africa announced that SAA would enter into bankruptcy protection, as the airline has not turned a profit since 2011 and ran out of money. In January 2020, South African Airways announced that it will suspend several routes, national and international, in order to reduce its financial struggle.

source; wikipedia