Soul Safari’s Caribbean Suriname Summer 2019 episode 2 – Kaseko

see also Soul Safari’s Caribbean Suriname Summer 2019 episode 1 – Billy Jones & The Twinkle Stars

Kaseko

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Take a blaring fanfare from New Orleans parading during a funeral. Blend it with a snappy calypso. Then add swinging Latin rhythms from South America. Add a hint of African rhumba and combine all this with the question and answer patterns from West African music …. and what is cooking in today’s post? Kaseko! A real melting pot of styles that represents the roots of Africa and Holland in South America perfectly, and without any doubt the most danceable music from the former Dutch colony across the Atlantic Ocean.

Kaseko is a corruption of the French “casser les corps”, which means as much as ‘break their arms/body’. And even after all those years it is still the most popular Surinamese dance music, derived from traditional Surinamese Creole kawina music, as played by Creole street musicians in Paramaribo since the early 1900s. That is clearly the link to New Orleans street fanfares….but Kaseko is not defined that easily at all. Read on….

from Kawina to Kaseko

Kaseko is based on two important elements of traditional kawina music: the patterns of question and answer singing and the use of percussion instruments. The most important percussion instrument is the skratjie, consisting of a large drum / pauk with a cymbal on it. This indicates the basic rhythm. The name literally means trestle and indicates that this drum is usually placed on a wooden rack. In the 1920s and 1940s, under the influence of the New Orleans Jazz, Surinamese folk melodies simultaneously improvised on brass wind instruments. The typical roll pattern on the snare was contrasted by loose, varying beats on the bass drum. This ‘bigi poku’ was also played at folk dance parties by members of the Military Chapel out of service. After the Second World War this form of music was strongly influenced by Latin American music and calypso, which resulted in a new Surinamese type of music that was called kaseko and quickly became popular. The influence of rock and pop music complemented the percussion instruments with western pop music instruments, such as an electric guitar, a bass guitar and a drum set. The use of the electric organ also increased.

Sranantongo

No fewer than twenty languages are spoken in Suriname. Most Surinamese are multilingual. Sranantongo is the lingua franca, besides the Sarnami Hindustani (Surinamese Hindustani), the Javanese different Maroon languages (especially Saramaccan and Aukan) Chinese (Hakka, Standard Mandarin and Standard Cantonese)

Here are 10 favorites from my personal collection

The first two recordings are pure Kawina, drums and chant. The following tracks are typical styles of Kaseko, most are sung in Sranantongo, and the track ‘Jimmy’s lazerus’ being sung in Dutch!

listen to the podcast Soul Safari’s Caribbean Suriname Summer 2019 episode 2 – Kaseko MIX

total time 52:32

1) Sopiang Kawina -Kolibrie
2) Sopiang Kawina -Opete Kwasi
3) Orchestra Tropical -Tata Vodoe
4) The King Stars -A Sina Maro
5) The Mighty Botai -Boesi Gado
6) The Mighty Botai -Boesi Jepi
7) The Action Stars -Fyamang
8) J. Jones & The Action Stars -Jong Boy Boyo
9) Sonora Paramarera con Lord Bamboo -El Yo Yo
10) Kaseko Masters -Aisa Vodoe
11) Ricky -Poeirie
12) Sonora Paramarera con Lord Bamboo -Jimmy’s Lazerus
13) Kaseko Masters -Veanti
14) The King Stars -Boto e Lolo

Soul Safari’s Caribbean Suriname Summer 2019 episode 1 – Billy Jones & The Twinkle Stars

summer 2019 is here! A perfect moment to highlight the rich music culture of Suriname in weekly episodes. After all, the South American country is a melting pot of many peoples including Creoles, the descendants of enslaved Africans.

First, some history….


Suriname has a little more than half a million inhabitants. In addition to the original Native Paleo Indian population, the country’s largest population groups are Hindustani, of Indian descent, often Hindu but also Muslim, Creoles, Marrons, descendants of liberated and escaped slaves and Javanese from Indonesia. There are also many Chinese, Lebanese, Jews and Boeroes, descendants of Dutch settlers.

The first successful European colonization took place from 1650 by the Englishman Francis Willoughby. Freedom of religion was arranged to attract planters. The English started planting plantations in Suriname, using slaves as workers. Initially, the colonizers tried to use the indigenous population as slaves. This failed due to high mortality and resistance. Then planters decided to import slaves from Africa and partly from other colonies. During the Second Anglo-Dutch War, in 1667, the Dutch conquered Suriname from the English. The Dutch handed over the then newly discovered colony called New Netherlands to the English in 1674, who call it New York. In exchange for this, the Netherlands received Suriname from the English. Slavery in the Dutch colony Suriname was only abolished on July 1, 1863. The country became independent in 1975, known as the Republic of Suriname.

Suri-Funk

The Twinkle Stars

Funk and soul music are hugely popular styles in Surinam, widely known as Suri-Funk. The most famous and beloved band is undoubtedly The Twinkle Stars, also working under the name The Stars. This soul-pop group was formed in the 2nd half of the Sixties, made up of eight musicians plus soloist singer Oscar Harris. The group became very famous and appreciated in the Netherlands. Members were Alfred Ommen, band leader, Edmond Oosthuizen, rhythm guitarist & singer, Ricardo Wouden, drums and singer Oscar Harris as frontman. In the 70’s vocalists Billy Jones, Humphrey Campbell, Ruud Seedorf became members. Their music is a mix of Funk, Rhythm & Blues and Kaseko. The latter is a fusion of African, European and American styles, strongly influenced by Dixieland, Calypso, Rock & Roll and other styles, whose instruments include the use of drums, saxophone , trumpet and, sometimes, a trombone. The Twinkle Stars disbanded officially in 1973 but regrouped few times for live-shows and recording sessions until 1980.

Although The Twinkle Stars had many hits I would like to focus on a rather curious, even bizarre single that came out in 1971, Mr. Astronout. This song is loosely based on Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’, with plenty of spacey weirdness and Oscar Harris singing ‘if Mr. Astronout had seen my baby on the moon?’. Surely a cash-in on the Apollo 11 space travels from a few years earlier….

Oscar Harris And The Twinkle Stars ‎– Mr. Astronout / Wake Up With You
Blue Elephant ‎– BE 24.008-G.

One of the best recordings by The Twinkle Stars is with Billy Jones, an American singer. His real name is William Oran Willie Bill Jones and he was born in Denison, Texas USA on November 20,1945. Billy Jones started his career singing gospel in church. He also toured the USA as a member of the Army Air Defense Command Choral Group.

In late 1968 he settled in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He soon became a vocalist with Oscar Harris And The Twinkle Stars, where he stayed off and on until 1980.

Billy Jones & The Stars- Love Is Gonna Rain On You (Imperial LP, Album, RE (1977)

Featuring some superb funk cuts like “Funky monkey”, “Thank you” (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) (Sly & Family Stone track), “All my brothers are clean” and “Message from a black man” !!!

Another rarity is this single ‘We Want Peace’ a Suri-funk gem that was released in Barbados on the obscure Merry DIsc label in 1973. Backed by ‘Jerusalem’, a typical example of that other most popular Surinamese dance style; Kaseko. More on that in the next episode of Soul Safari’s Caribbean Surinam Summer 2019….

source; Soul Safari archives/Wikipedia/Discogs

Johnny Clegg R.I.P. (1953-2019)


South African singer and musician Johnny Clegg has passed away. He was 66 years old and died of the effects of pancreatic cancer. Clegg is one of the symbols of opposition to the racist apartheid regime in South Africa: although it was forbidden, he founded interracial groups. Long before American singer Paul Simon discovered South African music, Johnny Glegg was working with local Zulu singers and musicians.

In South Africa itself, Clegg is regarded as a symbol of the multiracial rainbow nation of the post-apartheid era.

JULUKA 1982

In 1969 he founded his first interracial group Juluka. Their music was not played on South African radio, because interracial groups were prohibited under the apartheid regime. Juluka’s music is politically engaged: various group members were regularly arrested and concerts of the group often interrupted.


With his second group Savuka (“we are awake” in Zulu), Johnny Clegg breaks through internationally. Johnny Clegg and Savuka brings a mix of western and African music long before rock groups like Talking Heads or Malcolm McLaren, spiritual father and manager of Bow Wow Wow a.o. infused pop music with African rhythms. The lyrics of Savuka are often a mix of English and Zulu. In France Glegg is nicknamed “the white Zulu”.


Well-known songs from Johnny Clegg are “Scatterlings of Africa” – which was featured in the soundtrack of the movie “Rain Man” in 1988 -, “Asimbonanga” – “We never saw him”, about Nelson Mandela – and “Dela”.

Pamela Nkutha/Whoosha -the sound of ON Records 1987-1989

the sound of ON Records 1987-1989

South African synth-disco/bubblegum/electro-boogie

Catalog nr. Egoli 002-DISC 3

Soul Safari proudly presents a brand new release, as part of a series of 3 individual 12″ single releases. All original masters have been remastered and this limited edition is pressed on high quality dj-friendly vinyl. The vinyl and high quality downloads will be available from August 5th 2019, fully licensed. Distributed by Rush Hour

The ON label was active in South Africa between 1987-1992, an era in which the new sound of Young Black South Africa in the early 90s was defined.

The late 1980s in South Africa was an exciting time when disco mutated into what was becoming known as Bubblegum: dance music aimed at the black population of South Africa.

Bubblegum was a response to Western styles like disco and the fast spreading house music which originally came from the black ghettos of Chicago and New York. When the second Summer of Love took over the UK in 1988, first house, and other electronic music styles conquered South Africa as well. DIY – do it yourself – a motto that had already appeared in the punk movement, lifted the young local scene to the next level. With a minimal set up – keyboards, some drum machines and samplers it was suddenly possible to make music without having to rent expensive studios.

Whoosha released an album called “Mosquito” in 1987, which was produced by Julian Laxton, Ronnie Robot and the late Charles Sejeng who was the voice of the group. Two tracks of that album are featured on this compilation.

As the only female singer on this compilation Pamela Nkutha proves that her brand of bubblegum pop is never less than utterly fresh and original.

Catalog nr. Egoli 002-DISC 3

Release date; August 5th 2019, fully licensed. Distributed by Rush Hour

EGOLI 002-DISC 3ARTISTTITLEtime TOTAL 
A1Whoosha Mosquito03:47 
A2Whoosha Nopaka05:1509:02
EGOLI 002 -DISC 3ARTISTTITLEtime TOTAL 
B1Pamela Nkutha Gambling04:28 
B2Pamela Nkutha Ano Tambura (Suffering)04:35   9.03

Mafika -the sound of ON Records 1987-1989

the sound of ON Records 1987-1989

South African synth-disco/bubblegum/electro-boogie

Catalog nr. Egoli 002-DISC 2

Soul Safari proudly presents a brand new release, as part of a series of 3 individual 12″ single releases. All original masters have been remastered and this limited edition is pressed on high quality dj-friendly vinyl. The vinyl and high quality downloads will be available from August 5th 2019, fully licensed. Distributed by Rush Hour

The ON label was active in South Africa between 1987-1992, an era in which the new sound of Young Black South Africa in the early 90s was defined.

The late 1980s in South Africa was an exciting time when disco mutated into what was becoming known as Bubblegum: dance music aimed at the black population of South Africa.

Bubblegum was a response to Western styles like disco and the fast spreading house music which originally came from the black ghettos of Chicago and New York. When the second Summer of Love took over the UK in 1988, first house, and other electronic music styles conquered South Africa as well. DIY – do it yourself – a motto that had already appeared in the punk movement, lifted the young local scene to the next level. With a minimal set up – keyboards, some drum machines and samplers it was suddenly possible to make music without having to rent expensive studios.

Another star of the ON Record stable, Mafika Shabalala set himself apart from the rest with his lyrical skills, sung over the homegrown dance rhythms that soon gave rise to kwaito and later bubblegum.

Catalog nr. Egoli 002-DISC 2

Release date; August 5th 2019, fully licensed. Distributed by Rush Hour

EGOLI 002-DISC 2ARTISTTITLEtime TOTAL 
A1MafikaRoadblock  05:35 
A2MafikaRoadblock (Taxi Mix)05:2511:00
EGOLI 002 -DISC 2ARTISTTITLEtime TOTAL 
B1MafikaSbarara04:47 
B2MafikaBlack Jack04:01 
B3MafikaLalavuka04:2513:13

The Bees/Little Big Man -the sound of ON Records 1987-1989

the sound of ON Records 1987-1989

South African synth-disco/bubblegum/electro-boogie

Catalog nr. Egoli 002-DISC 1

Soul Safari proudly presents a brand new release, as part of a series of 3 individual 12″ single releases. All original masters have been remastered and this limited edition is pressed on high quality dj-friendly vinyl. The vinyl and high quality downloads will be available from August 5th 2019. Fully licensed. Distributed by Rush Hour

The ON label was active in South Africa between 1987-1992, an era in which the new sound of Young Black South Africa in the early 90s was defined.

The late 1980s in South Africa was an exciting time when disco mutated into what was becoming known as Bubblegum: dance music aimed at the black population of South Africa.

Bubblegum was a response to Western styles like disco and the fast spreading house music which originally came from the black ghettos of Chicago and New York. When the second Summer of Love took over the UK in 1988, first house, and other electronic music styles conquered South Africa as well. DIY – do it yourself – a motto that had already appeared in the punk movement, lifted the young local scene to the next level. With a minimal set up – keyboards, some drum machines and samplers it was suddenly possible to make music without having to rent expensive studios.

The Bees

The Bees are probably the best known group, releasing only a few albums in 1988-1989 and a handful singles  that are now collectible. Their sound is electronic, hypnotic and highly danceable.

Little Big Man

Themba Wawelela is a prolific South African artist/producer who is best known under the monniker ‘Little Big Man’.

Release date; August 5th 2019, fully licensed. All rights reserved

distributed by Rush Hour

EGOLI 002-DISC 1 ARTISTTITLEtime TOTAL 
A1The Bees Mjondolo (Bus House)05:22 
A2The Bees She’s A Witch (Tikoloshi)05:1910:41
EGOLI 002-DISC 1ARTISTTITLEtime  
B1Little Big ManDon’t Do It04:51 
B2Little Big ManLeribe04:0008:51

Vuyani Dance Company at Holland Festival 22 June 2019

my DJ set during the Holland Festival Listening Party on 22 June 2019 was originally planned as a performance to promote South African music with sound and vision, not as the usual dance party. It eventually became a real dance party thanks to the South African Vuyani Dance Company who joined the Listening Party and showed their masterful moves to the surprised crowd! Their unexpected performance was a beautiful gift! And it made the Dutch audience switch from listening to dancing. Really a nice festive closing of the Listening Party!! Thanks Gregory Maqoma’s Vuyani Dance Theater and all the people who made the Holland Festival possible.