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
Stan Rijven is a popjournalist who ao worked for the national Dutch newspaper Trouw (1979-2014). During the 80s he was a regular dj at squad Radio 100 (Tam Tam International) and hosted for 2 years the VPRO Radio 3 program The World Receiver/ Mundial (1989/90).
Mid 80s he co-founded the magazine Afrika. Combined with his Radio 100-program Stan organised the monthly held Tam Tam Club at Cafe De Pieter in Amsterdam which became a well known spot to hear the latest African pop and World music. At the same time Stan was busy establishing IASPM-Benelux, a global music platform for the Benelux (Paradiso, march 1984). Hence the name IASPM, International Association for the Study of Popular Music. To encourage the ± 40 Benelux members to pay their annual membership fee, Stan compiled this tape Globeat in 1989 as a present. Very rudimentary mixed with one turntable and one double casssettedeck, mixing was purely by feel, without a mixing desk.
Globeat is constructed with a radio-show in mind, covering parts of Africa and some unexpected contributions from Latin-America, the USA and the Netherlands as well.
Ah Glorious Summer! Now that the weather finally feels tropical here in Holland, it’s time go out and see some new African bands –and a few old favourites too- at the Afrikafestival in Hertme, Twente. Now in its 26th year
From 13:00 on Saturday 5th of July right through to 01:00 on Sunday 6th of July, there will be six groups playing. Three will be performing in the Netherlands for the first time and one of the groups will even be playing in Europe for the first time– a European debut!
The festival starts with Aziz Sahmaoui & University of Gnawa from Morocco. This group is often used to close the show at festivals, but in Hertme they will be the opening act. The Gnawa trance of Aziz will evolve into the heady trance of the BKO Quintet from Mali in which the hunters-ngoni from the Wassoulou area and the griot ngoni meet.
Singer Nancy Vieira from Cape Verde with her swinging ballads provides a haven of rest in the afternoon. They are one of the most promising new live bands in Ghana. This is their European debut – an exclusive for Hertme. Do not miss the chance to see this new exciting band performing for the first time outside Africa.
As night begins to fall, it will be time for Black Bazar. This group brings a mix of rumba and soukous from Congo. Next on stage will be Debademba from Burkina Faso/Mali. Both groups delivering us with an explosive dance party on this summer night.
Sunday 6th of July is the day of the big names.
At 12:00 o’clock the day kicks off with the magic and virtuoso guitar playing of Teta from Madagascar.
Mamar Kassey are an old acquaintance of Hertme having played there in 2008. Since then, they have become one of the top African bands.
The excellent Ethiopian Circus Debre Berhan will amaze you while Fendika provides explosive music and ‘shoulder-dance’.
The first African circus working with disabled and deaf people
The amazing Ethiopian Circus Debre Berhan was formed in 1998 in the town of the same name, three hours away from Addis. One can find circuses all around Ethiopia, in Addis Abeba and in various smaller towns. Although it’s not an old tradition in the country circus has a very important impact on communities, as they often mix stories about society (violence on women, HIV prevention, etc.) and more straightforward performances. The Circus is working with more than 100 acrobats, including children.
One of the important features in this circus, however, lies in the fact that it employs performers who have physical disabilities as well as those who are deaf. It is the first African circus working with disabled people. These performers, both those in the children’s act and the adult’s act, are extremely talented. Circus Debre Berhan’s shows open with the children’s beautiful and often very challenging acrobatics, followed by the adult act, which is staggering in its intricacy and difficulty. The performances are usually held in public spaces such as markets and main squares where possible in order to reach and entertain as many people as possible.
At the moment, Circus Debre Berhan is touring all over Ethiopia with its hundred or so performers split into small groups, to cover the vast countryside. If it continues its success, it will hopefully help change perceptions of disability and stigma.
Ferocious five-piece band with two phenomenal dancers
Fendika is a troupe of highly accomplished Azmari musicians and dancers. Founded in 2009 by Melaku Belay, a leading dancer, the ensemble is based at Melaku’s famous music club Fendika Azmari Bet in Addis Abeba. In Ethiopian culture, an Azmari bet is a traditional house of music where people come to be entertained, informed, and sometimes playfully insulted by the Azmari, who serve as current events commentators while they dance, sing, and play for tips.
Melaku is one of Ethiopia’s foremost dancers of the eskesta, a traditional Ethiopian trance dance of athletic shoulder movements. Growing up as a street kid, Melaku learned many regional dances of Ethiopia. He has travelled throughout Ethiopia to learn the dance traditions of the country’s 80 tribal groups. The musicians and dancers of Fendika present a cultural journey starting in the highlands of Tigray, Wollo, Gonder, and Gojam and so on.
Melaku Belay, dances;
Zinash Tsegaye, dance;
Misale Legesse, kobero (trad. drums);
Endris Hassen, masinko (one cord violin);
Nardos Tesfaw, vocals.
The biggest highlight of the 26th Africa Festival will be the historic reunion of Les Ambassadeurs. One of the members of this legendary group is Salif Keita. Together with his colleagues from the 1970’s, he will play the finest Malian music from that period.
Habib Koité hardly needs no further introduction. He closes the festival with his new band. It will also be the presentation of his new CD Soô.
today’s post combines two artifacts from Mali into one LP; masks from Mali and music by one of Mali’s (almost) forgotten orchestras, Kanaga De Mopti. As this re-release is still is quite new and I do not wish to boycot any sales of the album I have only included one mp3 of this album as a taster. Let me advise you to go out and buy it, that’s the best way to reward the hard work of the musicians and the record company too…I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed with the quality of these recordings.
In most African cultures of the peoples of Subsaharan and West Africa masks usually have a spiritual and religious meaning. They are used in ritual dances and social and religious events. A special status is attributed to the artists that create masks and to those that wear them in ceremonies. In most cases, mask-making is an art that is passed on from father to son, along with the knowledge of the symbolic meanings conveyed by such masks.
Malian music has received a lot of attention the past years, and it’s appeal will continue to spread with discoveries like this rare album by L’Orchestre Kanaga De Mopti, originally released in 1977. The band has the sound of a West African orchestra – unified in rhythm and melody. They are one of the region’s modern orchestra groups, who were were able to flourish in the golden age of West African state music funding. In 1977 the Malian government owned label ‘Mali Kunkan’, released a series of LP’s, including this must-have gem. It has been rereleased by Dutch label Kindred Spirits in its original LP format.
will someone care? Can this terror ever be stopped?
The musicians of Mali are silenced. Music is banned by decree by the Islamic extremists who rule the Northern part of Mali since april 2012. The reign of the Al-Qaeda-linked group Ansar ud-Din causes not only a humanitarian crisis in the region, but also a cultural crisis that is spreading like wildfire.
They plunder recording studios, destroy the archives of radiostations and trample instruments. Anyone who sings something else than the sacred koran verses is not sure of his life. The recent cultural holocaust in Northern Mali can be compared to that of the Nazis against the Jews in pre-war Germany.
Habib Koité – Batoumambé
Mali may be one of the poorest countries in Africa but it surely has one of the richest musical traditions of the continent. The so called griots travel around the country since the middle ages as the storytellers of the Sahel. Their songs are like history books, indispensable in a largely illiterate society. New popular singers in the last decades have exported Malinese music as the most famous product of the country.
Fatoumata Diawara – Kelé (live at Amsterdam World)
Fatoumata Diawara, Ali Farka Touré, the desert blues of Touareg-band Tinariwen have become regular features at international festivals like North Sea Jazz and Lowlands here in Holland. In the West, Malinese music is often compared to American blues. That is definitely true but the concerns of Mali are centuries older than those of Northern America . Malinese music is a paean on ‘ the source of hope in the desert ‘ and it should be kept alive, not destroyed.
Tinariwen from Live 8 Eden Africa Calling
parts of this text from an article by Leendert van der Valk -‘Mali’s Blues zwijgt’- NRC Handelsblad -Monday November 12th 2012
Today’s post features a review written by Pieter Franssen of “Le Mystère Jazz de Tombouctou”, a new release on the Kindred Spirits label.
Dutch guest writer Pieter Franssen is a lifetime music lover who is celebrating his 40 years long career as a dj, starting in Amsterdam’s world famous venue Paradiso. As a (world) music writer and (disco/house)dance music expert he wrote for OOR, the leading Dutch music magazine, since 1973 amongst others. He also hosted a VPRO-webradio show ‘Globaal Kabaal’(2002-2005).
Pieter made music-related trips to Jamaica, U.S.A. Cuba, Morocco (Gnawa, Essouira), Kenya and South Africa (Capetown and Jo’burg hiphop 1994) and interviewed a.m.o. Fela Kuti, Bob Marley, Keith Richards, many Dutch key dj’s and numerous musicians from Mali, Cuba and Brazil. He shares his borderless musical views since a long time with dj and Soul Safari founder Eddy De Clercq.
It is a very sour moment for the re-release of ‘Le Mystère Jazz de Tombouctou’, the holy grail among the eleven releases of the legendary Malian Kunkan label, just when in March 2012 extremist Touareg-rebels have taken over the mysterious Malian desert city Timbuktu and northern Mali and transformed the country into a kind of terrorist state.
(note editor*updated July 5th 2012) Not only is this brutal invasion an outright social disaster but at present time the occupiers destroy the cultural heritage of Mali; mausoleums, shrines, tombs and archives of ancient manuscripts, everything that does not fit in the belief of the terrorists is destroyed in the name of Islam, just as happened in Afghanistan.
The LP ‘Le Mystère Jazz de Tombouctou’ is without doubt the most precious, vital, curious and most sought after Malian album from the seventies and is now being re-released by the Dutch Kindred Spirit label.
The Kunkan (Voices) label was established in 1975 by Malian Minister of Culture Youssouf Traore to capture the music of several orchestras from different regions of Mali. Technician Bouboukar Traore proved himself a master in the recording phase when he placed the four microphones and recorded the instruments, particularly the congas.
It is hard to believe that a bunch of electricians, policemen, social workers, a nurse and a bassist / customs man were capable of creating this kind of musical landmark. The messages on these recordings are obviously carried with a holy fire.
The result is a magnum opus that sounds hypnotic, from the first to the last note, due to the constantly swirling guitar licks of the two brilliant guitarists; leader / guitarist Cheikna Sidi Mohammed, who joined the band as a singer in 1973 just as Bouboucar ‘Hamdallaye’ Toure who also came from Dirband Dire and Nouhoum Baby, who has been a soloist in the group since 1974.
The given combination resulted in fabulous, very tight playing but also the creative guitar-supportive horn section, consisting of veteran saxophonist Baba Napoleon in the front line and two trumpeters and the magisterial call-and-response singing -almost like the call of the muezzin- of Touareg Ag Milili complete the mesmerizing sound.
A number of hymns and ritual songs of the Touareg and Peuls peoples were recycled by Sidi Mohammed with young Tamasheks who have been in this team since the seventies.
As such the Orchestra made incredibly inspiring music, ranging from the desert-trance of “Teiduma” to really hypnotic anthems, all veined with handsomely arranged brass riffs and solos, instrumental outbursts of all kinds and almost unearthly Islamic hypnotic singing.
“Dina Waliji (Saints Of Islam)” served as a blueprint for a track on Ali Farka Toure and Ry Cooder’s Grammy Award-winning collaboration “Talking Timbuktu” in 1992. With an energy that explodes from each track this rather sublimely arranged desert suite is musically very uplifting.
“Apolo”named after the lunar project in 1969 is the song where the band presents itself and “Wale” is a track where the masons and builders of the mud mosque Sankoré are honoured with a truly majestic salute by the horn section. We hear traces of the Super Djata Band arrangements inspired by Bob Marley’s horn section.
Super driving congas, drums, guiro, a crazy almost free jazz sax solo by Napoleon and ecstatic singing instantly knock you out in “Leli”, a penetrating Peulh-story about hardships on a journey through the Sahel.
And from that moment on, the sound of Le Jazz Mystère captures the listener in an incredible musical and spiritual hold.