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

A Cosmopolitan Night With Silva Bera and Her Rumbadores

Todays post features one of the most charming and unusually good lounge records found in South Africa on my last safari during the past few months

I am happy to add this rare album to my ever-growing collection of music for restaurant, nightclubs and lounges

The album “A Cosmopolitan Night With Silva Bera and Her Rumbadores” was recorded live in the mid 60s at the Lourenco Marques Restaurant  in Johannesburg, while the cover photo was taken at another restaurant/club The Casino in Johannesburg

The repertoire represents that cosmopolitan sound that was ever so popular in the 60s in the nightlife and restaurants where the South African well-heeled big city dwellers came to dance and romance;  Cha Cha, Tango, Baion, Rumba and Mediterrean popular music. All arranged and played by a South African female bandleader and singer accompanied by The Rumbadores and choral group The Mellotones…

A very well know group working in the same style and sound as Silva Bera were The Chakachas, a Belgian based group of Latin soul and Afro Cuban studio musicians, founded in 1958 by bandleader Gaston Bogaert.

See also my previous posts

Last night at the Carlton, Johannesburg with Renatino di Napoli

Last Night At The Mikado –Q&A with singer Viviana…Part One 

Last Night At The Mikado –Q&A with singer Viviana…Part Two

A Cosmopolitan Night With Silva Bera and Her Rumbadores

Silva Bera was born in Istanbul. Her father is a Turk, her mother is Greek and her grandmother is Italian. At the age of five she started playing the piano, singing and composition at the Conservatoire of Athens for twelve year. It was there that she learnt her unique microphone technique and stage presentation. Apart from Miss Bera’s remarkable musical ability she speaks Turkish, Greek, French, Italian and English fluently and sings in many other languages like Hebrew, Portuguese and Spanish.

She came to South Africa as a young singer and has performed in most of the best Johannesburg restaurants, where she has thrilled her audiences with her husky voice and Continental charm. She is accompanied by Her Rumbadores and  she is probably the only woman bandleader in the country and although she finds this difficult, she will never lose courage, as she hopes to make her contribution to music in South Africa.

She has become known as the Catherina Valente of South Africa and although she is very proud of this status, she prefers to be known by her own style. South African musicians like Dan Hill and many others have helped and inspired to success and she is most grateful tot hem.  

Silva Bera’s versatility and vibrant personality are predominant on this variety packed album.

see also my previous post on Dan Hill and Dana Valery

‘Dan Hill At The Grove’ featuring Dana Valery and introducing Una Valli

Listen to both sides of this rare album in its original sequence with live audience participating…

MAMADU is a fast cha cha which she sings in Brazilian.

She sings HANEGEV, a sad desert song, in Hebrew and in a man’s voice. A soldier sings to his mother from the desert, telling her that it is his duty to fight.

SALADE DE FRUITS is sung in French with a cha cha rhythm. The girl’s fiance name is Fruit Salad. She asks him to marry her because she likes him and everything he does.

POR DOS BESOS is sung in Spanish and Italian and is a Tango Cha Cha. It is the story of a girl who tells her boyfriend not to joke with love and to marry her. This is an extremely difficult song to sing because the lyrics alternate between Spanish and Italian with every two words.

Miss Bera sings IMITTOS in Greek and the rhythm is a baion.

The Rumbadores open Side Two of the record with their own special interpretation of GOLDEN GIRL, which is followed by Miss Bera singing in English her own arrangement of AROUND THE WORLD in a cha cha rhythm.

There are two songs which are special features on the album, introducing the drummer of the Rumbadores, Stefano La Placa, who sings LET ME CRY and TINTERELLA DI LUNA.

Miss Bera sings AL DI LA in italian and in a slow rock style.

SIFIRIZO is her own composition, which means I’m Whistling. It is a slow baion and is sung in Greek. It is about a street girl who blames society for what she has become and walks the streets whistling when she is looking for a man.

BAN DI RUOLA is a fast cha cha sung in italian.

All the choral backings on this album are provided by The Mellotones.

Silva Bera and Her Rumbadores –A Cosmopolitan Night With (Continental Records ZB 8025- South Africa)

Also re-issued as  Silva Bera and Her Rumbadores:Turkish Delight (Black Cat Productions 2016)

Happy New Year 2020! Soul Safari’s SA Soul Jazz Mix

to celebrate the first day of the New Year 2020 Soul Safari focuses on those great vintage soul jazz tunes as a tribute to the musicians who made them.

Real obscure and collectible titles by The Drive, The Shyannes, The Sounds or The Nightingales but also a rarity by better known Cape Jazz artist like Morris Goldberg. Enjoy this selection of original singles and a few albums, ranging from 1969 to 1985…all from the Soul Safari collection.

Soul Safari will continue in 2020 reporting on music that is made NOW… as well as unearthing the lost gems of South African dance music past. Covering music from soul to jazz to underground disco to old skool kwaito, bubblegum and forgotten music library classics.

Soul Safari 2020 Happy New Year -Soul Jazz Mix tracklist

The Shyannes -Osakai
The Go-Aheads -Go Ahead (pt 1)
The Shyannes -Half Moon
The Nightingales -Dyambo
Sons Of Thunder -Break Down
Soul Breakers -Crying Soul Nr. 2
The Sounds -Good People
The Drive -Stuck In The Middle With You
Soul Giants -Soul Prayer
The Jazz Clan -Oh Happy Day
The Morris Goldberg Quartet -D.B.B.
The Drive -Iphi Intombi Yam (pt 1)
The Drive -Iphi Intombi Yam (pt 2)
The Drive -Shambala
The Shyannes -Havanna Strut
The Bee Dees -Big Brother
The Sounds -Coming Home
The Sounds -Thiba Kamoo

Soul Safari Yuletide 2019 -Township Boogie Disco Mix

This year Soul Safari brings you a special Township Boogie & Disco Mix for the Yuletide season…most tracks were originally released as 45 rpm singles between 1979-1986. Some of the earliest examples of Boogie/Disco music from South Africa comes from Cape Jazz artist Mike Makhalemele (1979) and a gem by singer Kumasi (1982), along with long time favorites like The Hot Soul Singers, Street Kids, Ebony mixed with some real obscure goodies as well….Thandi Seoka, TSB and Thandi Bgonwe. One of the great Cape Jazz artists, Mike Makhalemele performs ‘Disco Freaks’, truly a 1979 Boogie/Disco holy grail from South Africa. Enjoy this mix as much as I loved selecting and mixing it. Happy Holidays!

Soul Safari Yuletide 2019 -Township Boogie Disco Mix

n Kersboodskappie van Vader Kristmis

Thandi Seoka -Social Gatherings

Thandi Seoka -On The Floor

Desiree -You’ve Lost A Good Thing

Bones Delight -From Guguletu To Soweto

Street Kids -Try Me (Game Nr. 2)

Kumasi -Anomakoliwa

Kumasi -What’s On Your Mind

Ebony -I Need Somebody

Sunset feat The Hot Soul Singers -She Looks Good

TSB (The Smash Band) -Payday (instrumental)

Thandi Mbongwe -Our Love (part 1)

Thandi Mbongwe -Our Love (part 2)

Starlite -Celebrate Our Love

Bones Delight -Everybody Needs A Holiday

Julian Laxton -Time Is Tight (A-Go-Go Mixx)

Disco 6 -Magic Flight

Mike Makhalemele -Disco Freaks

Zeebra -Balega

live@Raindance Amsterdam/Tanzania/Kenya 14th September 2019

Raindance in Amsterdam, Vondelpark

Chief Sankale of the Masai people at Raindance A’dam
listen to Soul Safari’s DJ set at Raindance Amsterdam, 14 September 2019
guided by rhythm, touched by the spirits
crowd @ Raindance Amsterdam

and simultaneously Raindance happened in Kenya

and simultaneously Raindance happened in Tanzania

Joh Makini representing in Tanzania!