Afrotronic. All songs on the Afrotronic album are influenced by music from Southern to North Africa and all consists original elements from the local cultures, such as the use of original instruments like the mbira (kalimba) and traditional drums and percussion recorded with local musicians. African artists such as singers Consular, Yemu Matibe and Alungile Sixishe contribute to this album with warm voices, vocals sung in Ghanese and in the Xhosa language.
Afrotronic has ultimately become an adventurous, electronic, jazzy album, in which influences can be heard from Afro-pop, Dub Step, Deep House and South African Amapiano.
Check the livestream via Youtube, Facebook or Instagram!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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
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.
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.
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.'”
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.”
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.
people rise together when they believe in tomorrow
Soul Safari is proud to be part of the program for the Raindance Project on Saturday, September 14, 2019. As DJ I will be playing two sets with African music.
The Soul Safari mix 4 The Raindance Project mix was produced exclusively for the project as a taster of things to come…. this mix of 60 minutes contains some of my own tracks like a great remix of ‘Coral Reef’ sung in Xhosa, and a few of my own new tracks influenced by South Africa roots music. As well as a few favorite tunes by Black Motion, live recorded in The Boiler Room, Johannesburg.
The Raindance Project. Dancing for a greener planet.
Party in the Vondelpark Amsterdam.
Three simultaneous and freely accessible events, in The Netherlands, Kenya and Tanzania. Music, dance, performing arts, education, comedy and science come together on one stage. The project is being launched in the Vondelpark Open Air Theater in Amsterdam, with the highlight being a live connection between the three events that everyone can follow.
Soul Safari is proud to be part of the line-up for the Raindance Project on Saturday, September 14, 2019. Three simultaneous and freely accessible events, in The Netherlands, Kenya and Tanzania. Music, dance, performing arts, education, comedy and science come together on one stage. The project is being launched in the Vondelpark Open Air Theater in Amsterdam, with the highlight being a live connection between the three events that everyone can follow.
“If we can warm up the earth, we can also cool it down”
The Raindance Project is positioning greening as the global solution for climate change.
Desertification is one of the greatest threats to our planet, but we can all turn this tide. With this important message, The Raindance Project wants to inspire young and old and provide a sense of unity and mutual solidarity. The Raindance Project therefore organizes a series of events every two years in various places in the world to make the message of greening and cooling known to a larger audience.
From 12:00h to 21:00h there are performances by well-known musicians, DJs, comedians, speakers and scientists, who play an important role in spreading the message about the greening of our planet. The Raindance Project believes that music can play an important role in spreading the message about the greening of our planet. Because that is desperately needed and Justdiggit, together with local partners in Africa, is greening degraded land on a large scale. Together we can bring back nature and help to unleash a green revolution. The event will be broadcast live on September 14 by 3FM and will be streamed on the social media of Justdiggit, The Raindance Project and 3FM.
Ala Pikin Nengre from Big Jones is the soundtrack of the 1960s documentary ‘Faja Lobbi’ by Dutch filmmaker Herman van der Horst. The award winning documentary shows the different population groups of Suriname: from the Indians, Maroons, Creoles, Hindustani, Javanese, Lebanese to the Chinese.
With Ala Pikin Nengre, Big Jones sings of the city of Paramaribo and the Market Square of Paramaribo. The music that Big Jones and his band made popular is called ‘Kawina’ and can be considered as the first real Surinamese ‘Folk’. The music was played during ‘dansi dansi’s’ (festivals) and ‘verjari’s’ (birthdays). In terms of instruments, the composition of the bands changed over time. The texts varied from improvisation to old stories, such as that of the spider ‘Anansi’. Big Jones was one of the first Surinamese artists whose music was recorded on an LP.
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.
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
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.
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….
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….