In one of the grandest hotels in the world, born of and to luxury, today you enter ‘at own risk’. More than 2500 people live there without water or electricity. They have taken possession of the building and manipulated not only the stones but also the dreams. A journey through present and past of a city in a city; a story about colonial megalomania, revolutionary vanity and feeling at home.
The Grande Hotel Beira was a luxurious hotel in Beira, Mozambique built by entrepreneur Arthur Brandão. It was open from 1954 to 1964, after which the holiday resort was used as military base and prison in the Mozambican Civil War. It has since fallen into disuse, and is currently home to numerous squatters, who have stripped the building of construction materials to provide a limited source of income.
Its failure wasn’t completely because of the revolution or government rule but the construction and maintenance costs were too high and they didn’t receive enough guests because of more affordable and better located competition.
In 1964, after ten years of operation, the Grande Hotel was closed by the Companhia de Moçambique. The construction costs were three times more than the original budget, and the hotel never made any profit. The anticipated number of wealthy guests never came and the workforce was too large for the amount of guests actually received. Every elevator, for example, had its own operator present. The hotel needed a lot of maintenance to keep it in its luxurious condition.
In several documents it was claimed that the reason for closure was the refusal of the regime to grant the hotel a casino permit. Any realistic estimation would have predicted the failure of the hotel. The white residents of Southern Africa couldn’t afford this level of luxury and Beira was not known, internationally, as a prime holiday destination for wealthy people. Destinations like the Bazaruto archipelago at Vilanculos, the Mediterranean city life style of the Mozambican capital Lourenço Marques, the South African Krüger national park and the Victoria Falls in Rhodesia where more famous across the world.
A cheaper alternative to the Grande Hotel was the Ambassador Hotel. This hotel opened just after the inauguration of the Grande Hotel and was preferred by business people because it was situated in the Baixa (downtown) area, where most of the business offices were located. Remarkably, Arthur Brandão was also the owner of this hotel.
Originally released in 1979 in Nigeria this album remains one of the highly prized ‘holy grails’ of African music. Basa Basa Experience – Together We Win Label: Take Your Choice Records (TYC) – TYC 115-L
Both albums by Piliso and Basa Basa Experience were produced by Themba Matebese, a member of Nigerian band T-Fire. Other members are Igo Chico, Kenneth Okulolo, Lekan Animashaun, Mike Collins, Tobahoun Abalo, Tunde Williams. In T-Fire Themba Matebese was responsible for the vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards and percussion as well as for the composition of most of their songs. He also wrote ‘African Soul Power’, the standout track on ‘Together We Win’. The album got repressed on Peach River Records in Holland in 1983 under a new title ‘Homowo’, the group name was shortened to Basa Basa.
Liner notes; Basa Basa is a highlife band, the nuclues being the Nyaka Twins from…
Legendary South African trumpeter and anti-apartheid movement figure, Hugh Masekela has died at aged 78, after a battle with prostate cancer, according to his family and the government.
Born on April 4, 1939, Masekela first picked up a trumpet after seeing the film “Young Man With a Horn” and encouraged by activist Father Trevor Huddleston. Often described as the “father of South African jazz”, Masekela was an icon of South Africa’s Sophiatown, the political and cultural enclave of Johannesburg that was razed by apartheid police but remains a symbol of black freedom.
‘Masekela introducing Hedzoleh Soundz’ is probably one of the most impressive excursions of a jazz trumpeter into the deep heartlands of Africa; Hugh Masekela meets Nigerian band Hedzoleh Soundz.
After his big hit success with ‘Grazing in the grass’, which went to #1 in both the pop and R&B charts in 1968, Masekela joined his former wife Miriam Makeba in Guinea, Africa for a tour. It was there that he met the Ghanian band Hedzoleh Soundz, an extremely talented band known for blending the ancient rhythmic traditions of their native Ghana with American jazz and Latin music.
At the time Fela Kuti was taking Africa and the world by storm with his brand of Nigerian Jazz Funk. The interlocking rhythms over which his saxophone could endlessly groove were reminiscent of the style of funk patterns that James Brown pioneered in the U.S.
Hedzoleh Soundz combines the rhythmic traditions of their native Ghana while Masekela adds the improvisational drive of jazz. The album ‘Introducing Hedzoleh Soundz’ was recorded in Lagos, Nigeria in 1973 and features such tracks as ‘Languta’, an irresistible chunk of infectious Afro beat with an inspired Masekela singing and blowing on top.
one post a day for the remainder of 2017 featuring a selection of some of my best finds of African music last year…not necessary brand new releases. Mostly vintage original pressings found during my travels all over the world.
#7 Farafina – Bolomakoté
veraBra Records – veraBra No. Germany 1989
Farafina is a group of percussionists / dancers from Burkina Faso in West Africa, founded orginally by Mahama Konaté.
Excellent workouts on traditional African instruments like the balafon and djembé are recorded on this album, one of the standout tracks of ‘Bolomakoté’ is the track “Moroman Wouele”, an amazing rhythm journey with hypnotic chants! The track starts seductively like a North African belly dance morphing gradually into a faster samba rhythm. The latin theme re-appears even stronger on the B-side….dance-floor friendly album for sure.
Farafina’s ability to expand their music without denying their traditional instruments has enabled them to experience new forms and record with musicians such as Jon Hassell, the Rolling Stones, Ryuichi Sakamato, Daniel Lanois, Billy Cobham, Joji Hirota….
In 1988 Farafina worked together with Jon Hassell on an ambient/experimental album ‘Flash Of The Spirit’. The group played several times at the Montreux Jazz Festival, and stole the show at the famous Nelson Mandela’s birthday concert in the London Wembley Stadium.
A1 Moroman Wouele 4:22
A2 Bolomakoté Mahama 3:42
A3 Mandela 3:06
A4 Nianiae Lomina 4:54
A5 Kodine 5:08
B1 Samba 4:20
B2 Patron Mousso (Instrumental) 5:40
B3 Goulikanairi Ye 2:53
B4 Kabouroudibi 6:23
Balafon – Baba Diara, Mahama Konaté
Djembé – Paco Yé Adama
Flute – Soungalo Coulibaly
Lead Vocals – Mahama Konaté, Paco Yé Adama, Soungalo Coulibaly
In the 1930’s African Jazz Music became an important feature in the lives of many urban Africans and some remarkable talent began to emerge in Johannesburg.
In 1952 the Union of Southern African Artists came into being with the dual function of promoting the talent that had already been shown to exist in the musical and dramatic field and to act as an Artist’s Equity. The union promoted Township Jazz concerts which were the first large scale African entertainments to be presented in the capital of South Africa, and arranged for white and non-European audiences to see and hear a wide range of entertainment by black and colored artists.
South African Institute for Race Relations presents African Jazz and Variety
The Woody Woodpeckers -Fanagalo
Fanagalo is a pidgin or simplified language, based primarily on Zulu. It is used as a lingua franca, mainly by workers in the gold, diamond, coal and copper mines.
This rare 10″ includes two songs by The Woody Woodpeckers, a group around songwriter and musician, Victor Ndlazilwane, who was awarded the Metro FM Lifetime Achievement award in 2006 in South Africa. During his early career, Ndlazilwane was part of the legendary Woody Woodpeckers group as well as the Jazz Ministers, both of which were signed to Gallo Record Company. The Jazz Ministers were the first African jazz band to perform at the prestigious Newport Jazz Festival in New York.
King Jeff & His African Jazz Troupe -Rock Around The Clock
At the end of the 40’s and mid-50’s when Rock ‘n Roll swept through the world like a tsunami, a bleached derivative of American Jazz and R&B music was popular in South Africa. Black and white musicians, singers and performers catered for the refined taste of the well heeled visitors and sophisticated dancers that frequented the big hotels and nightclubs of the big cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. There existed a circuit of hip hangouts and palaces of nocturnal pleasures; theaters, nightclubs, bars and restaurants where live music was an extra attraction to the fine dining and luxurious surroundings. Valet parking included. But the jungle rhythms of the American originals were a wee bit too adventurous to serve as a soundtrack for an exquisite night out at The Colony Hotel or The Beachcomber. So more musicians, singers and bands turned towards the then popular sound of the Mediterranean countries like Italy or Portugal. Many landed in Johannesburg , the city of gold & diamonds where riches and fame was to be found aplenty.
Such a nightclub/restaurant was Franco’s, located in downtown Johannesburg. The nightclub was a famous hangout for the city’s well-heeled crowd, musical entertainment consisted mainly of evergreens from around the world, sometimes local songs were included in the repertoire. A mixed bag really, something you can dance to or just listen to in the safety of a segregated environment.
The Beachcomber in Durban and The Grand Hotel Beira in Mozambique were similar hangouts, where well-to-do visitors from Portuguese Angola, the Belgian Congo or the Rhodesias could unwind on a dream holiday. Or they came to make a business deal, or simply to be entertained by the best of performers around.
The Three Petersen Brothers and Nico Carstens and his Orchestra
The Three Petersen Brothers, Mervyn, Basil and Andy, are really brothers who belong to one of the oldest theatrical families in South Africa. They are versatile and musically gifted, touring the country, appearing on stage, in variety and as cabaret artists in every nightclub in South Africa, in addition to regular radio performances. ‘On Safari’ is their first LP recording together with the famous Nico Carstens Orchestra.
from the original liner notes by Anton De Waal of ‘On Safari’ Columbia 33JS 11011 South Africa
Three Petersen Brothers -Voom-Ba Voom
Three Petersen Brothers -Pondoland
Three Petersen Brothers -Jo’burg Samba
Nigel Crawford with the Gold Diggers
“Gold Rock (You’veGot to Dig, Dig, Dig for Gold)” isthe title of a 78 rpm by Nigel Crawford with the Gold Diggers. The song explains why a small settlement in Gauteng could grow into the famed capital of ‘eGoli’, a Zulu word meaning “place of gold”. Johannesburg could not be bettered as an appropriate locale for the story of all those who came starry eyed to the big city, chasing a dream.
Nigel Crawford with the Gold Diggers -Gold Rock
Nigel Crawford with the Gold Diggers -Hamba Lala (African Calypso)
John Massey and his Warriors -African Rock ‘n Roll
made with love…lots of research and discovering great long lost Congolese music. That is the first impression of this new release by the Belgian label Planet Ilunga. This exciting young label wants to contribute to restore the rich Congolese music archive, firstly through high quality vinyl issues and extensive booklets.
O.K. Jazz The Loningisa Years 1956-1961
∞∞∞ Release date: 1 February 2017 ∞∞∞
After the two earlier releases on Planet Ilunga, focusing on the orchestras African Jazz and Rock-a-Mambo, it makes perfect sense that a third album should explore the treasures of that other major school of popular Congolese music. With this new compilation Planet Ilunga goes back to the very early days of O.K. Jazz, founded in 1956 in Léopoldville and disbanded in 1993. During the late fifties O.K. Jazz was the home of outstanding musicians such as Franco, Vicky, De La Lune, Edo Nganga, Dessoin, Kouka Celestin, Isaac, Brazzos, Mujos and many others. Together they created an unique and hair-raising take on rumba, cha-cha-cha, calypso, merengue and the band’s favourite rhythm: the bolero
Tscha-Tscha Del Zombo
From June 1956 to August 1961 the band recorded 320 tracks for the 78 rpm music label Loningisa. Despite earlier efforts from labels such as Crammed Disc, RetroAfric and African (thank you!), there is still a large part of the Loningisa back catalogue that remains hidden from the public. That’s why Planet Ilunga associated with Yves Luambo Emongo (son of Franco) and Julien Rocky Longomba (son of Vicky) and compiled 32 O.K. Jazz songs that were recorded between 1956 and 1961.
Na Kobala Mimi
All songs on this compilation were originally released on 78 rpm records on the Loningisa label and most of the selected tracks were never reproduced after their original release. I tried to construct a tracklist consisting of different composers and different genres to show the diversity of this great band. Planet Ilunga collaborated for this release with a few 78 rpm collectors. I would once again like to thank them for sharing their rare records.
Vinyl-only release * 2LP vinyl: 32 tracks (total running time: 93:25): tracklist, see Discogs * Comes with a 40-page booklet (in English) with lyrics in Lingala, lots of pictures and a closer look to this terrific band * Full artwork gatefold album cover by Miadana Aurélia * 180 gram vinyl * Restored and remastered tracks * Limited and numbered to 500 copies * Worldwide distribution through carefully selected vinyl shops * First orders receive a limited O.K. Jazz concert poster, made by Muzikifan, only 75 made
Mbongo Na Ngai Judas
Compiled with the precious help of Stefan Werdekker from the music plaform Worldservice and Flemmming Harrev from afrodisc.com.
Special thanks to Julien Rocky Longomba and Yves Luambo Emongo, respectively sons of Victor Longomba (aka Vicky, tenor voice in O.K. Jazz) and François Luambo Makiadi (aka Franco, guitarist in O.K. Jazz).Thanks to the 78 rpm collectors Christian Van den Broeck and David Manet. Thanks to Alastair Johnston from the Muzikifan website who made the poster and revised the booklet. Melesi mingi Christian Ongoba & Henriette Alipaye for the transciption of the songs in in Lingala.
Shops and distributors that would like to distribute this release, please contact Planet Ilunga for wholesale details. Readers can already pre-order a copy of this release by sending an email at email@example.com or going to the shop page on the Planet Ilunga blog. For those who don’t have the second Planet Ilunga release (Rock-A-Mambo/African Jazz – Souvenirs From Esengo 1957-1961) yet, feel free to ask for a copy. A few copies are still available. The first release (Souvenirs from the Congo) is completely sold out.
Planet Ilunga specializes in archiving, documenting and sharing the “Rumba Lingala” sound from the fifties and sixties from both the Congos. In the following years, Planet Ilunga wants to contribute to restore the rich Congolese music archive, in the first place through high quality vinyl issues and extensive booklets. Your sharing of this mailing, video or info to fellow (Congolese) music lovers would be very welcome.
Last Sunday Papa Wemba collapsed at a concert in Ivory Coast and died shortly afterwards. To die in the armor is probably just the way he had always wanted it, how shocking this news may seem. Papa Wemba (born Lubefu in 1949) became famous as a young singer when he joined the band Zaiko Langa Langa in 1969.
Congolese rumba (or soukous) was big in the fifties and sixties, when African artists were mixing traditional Congolese music with soul and Latin American and Caribbean rhythms.
The band played a modern and bold version of rumba, full of tight drums and electric guitars, and therefore Zaiko Langa Langa was very popular with mainly Congolese youth. Not least because of the appearance of the band, always well dressed in the latest imported fashions. But Zaiko Langa Langa was also popular because the band created a true dance craze in the seventies with the very exciting cavacha rhythm.
From 1974 onwards Papa Wemba founded a few own bands. First Isifi Lokole, later Yoka Lokole and eventually the band Viva la Musica. As a bandleader with this group Wemba wanted to give young Congolese talent an opportunity and the composition of the group therefore changed constantly. Viva la Musica had big hits with songs like ‘African Bokulaka’ and ‘Mere Superior. And Papa Wemba was a star in his home country, especially as one of the leaders of the Congolese La SAPE, a movement which wanted to show with striking and fashionable clothes that Africans could survive very well without colonial rulers.
Too numerous to mention but one of my own favourites must be this collaboration with Hector Zazou from 1983 on the excellent Crammed Discs from Brussels, Belgium. A quite rare and hard to find wave-afro funker.