one of the great finds during my latest digging trip in South Africa….what a beautiful collection of Calypso, Highlife, Mambo!! No date of release mentioned on label nor cover but all recordings stem from the mid to end of the 50s according to the liner notes.
This 10″ release follows volume 1 released earlier by Dutch Philips Records. And combines with another rare release which I have already reviewed in an earlier post
Cyclone Idai has devastated the Mozambican city of Beira and turned it into an inland lake. The city of 500,000 people is at the epicenter of one of the worst natural disasters to hit southern Africa in decades.
Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe are still coming to terms with the immediate impact and aftermath of the storm, a week after it made landfall on southeast Africa’s coast, ripping through the region at speeds of up to 194 km (120 miles) an hour. An estimated 1,6 million people are believed to be affected, towns and villages remain submerged, and the death toll in the three countries has surpassed 500.
Idai’s timing and target could not have been worse, hitting already vulnerable communities in some of the continent’s poorest countries just before harvesting season.
Floodwaters spilling out from the region’s Pungue and Buzi rivers now cover a massive 2,165 sq km-area (834 square miles), according to the UN, far exceeding the width of the initial storm. The water levels created inland islands, marooning hundreds of people across the region, and stretching rescue operations.
“Beira is pretty much paralyzed, with many…going hungry, and without food and shelter,” resident Samuel Fenis told the UN Environment agency. At least 242 people have died in Mozambique alone. As the extent of the damage unfolds, it’s becoming clear that president Filipe Nyusi’s estimate that as many as 1,000 people are dead could be confirmed.
After making landfall in Mozambique, Idai travelled more than 300 km (186 miles) to Zimbabwe, killing at least 139 people, with dozens more still missing. It travelled across Sofala and Manica provinces, leaving behind flooding so severe that entire villages have been wiped out. The area remains inaccessible, with an estimated 100,000 people stranded, according to the UN, making it difficult to ascertain the true extent of the damage. As rescue workers wade through the disaster zone, there are reports of people still huddling on rooftops, waiting to be rescued. Families have resorted to digging through mudslides to find their relatives still trapped.
“Whatever crops that were being grown despite the drought have now been destroyed in the floods, and these districts will need the help of the international community now more than ever,” Paolo Cernuschi, Zimbabwe country director at the International Rescue Committee, said in a statement.
The cyclone did not cross into Malawi, but the resulting floods killed at least 56 people, and displaced 82,700.
Aid agencies have made desperate appeals for funding, revealing the extent of the devastation. The World Food Programme says it needs $121 million to help those affected in Mozambique alone. The UN aid agency’s operations in Malawi will require $10.3 million for just two months of assistance. In Zimbabwe, $5 million will be needed to provide food, logistical support and a response in the affected districts where 90% of property has been damaged.
UNFPA and Unicef have also dispatched teams to the region to assist women and children, whose vulnerability is exacerbated in disasters such as this.
The storm’s impact shows the need for better preparedness and warning systems, the UN environment agency has said. As the extent of the damage wreaked by Idai is revealed, state and non-governmental agencies are flocking to the affected region to help, and discovering that Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe will need far more than expected.
Dorothy Masuka was one of the great South African jazz singers of the 1950s. Together with Dolly Rathebe and Miriam Makeba she became an iconic singer and writer of memorable tunes like Pata Pata, Kwawuleza and Into Yam. Many of her songs were recorded by artists like Makeba.
“ Her music was the soundtrack of some our most joyful moments, the light of or souls during our darkest hours” said Nathi Mthethwa, South Africa’s Arts & Culture minister following her death.
Masuka had been suffering from complications related to hypertension, after having a mild stroke in 2018. One of her last stage performances was at Winnie Mandela’s funeral in that same year.
Go Go Suffering
Dorothy Masuka was born in 1935 in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Her parents migrated to South Africa when she was 12 years old. Despite her parents’ disapproval, Masuka dropped out of school at 16 to pursue her dream of becoming a professional singer.
She signed a deal to record with Troubadour Records and after a spell with the African Ink Spots she left for Zimbabwe to join The Golden Rhythm Crooners. But she was soon on her way back to Johannesburg and in the train she penned ‘Hamba Hamba Nontsokolo’ loosely translated as ‘go, go suffering’.
The song became her biggest hit and one of the most popular songs of the 1950s. It is regarded as an African classic and remains her signature tune to this day. By 1953, when she was 18, Masuka was already a fully fledged professional musician and, along with Makeba and Hugh Masekela, she toured with Alf Herbert’s African Jazz & Variety Show and with the musical King Kong.
She also performed with the Harlem Swingsters in the mid-1950s and endeared herself to a wide audience with her provocative compositions that riled the apartheid regime. In 1961, the Special Branch seized the master recordings of her composition ‘Lumumba’ which paid tribute to Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister of the Congo. She also dared to write a political song about the then Prime Minister Dr Malan and was exiled for over 30 years. In Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and the UK Masuka campaigned for the liberation of SA through her music.
After many years working as a flight attendant for Zambian Airways, she returned to South Africa at the beginning of the 1990’s. A few years later she was a recipient of the Order of Ikhamanga Silver from the SA government. Dorothy Masuka was also inducted into the Hall of Fame in the US in 2002.
From Saturday 5 January 2019, the second edition of Old Root New Routes will start with a festive New Year’s Concert in Amsterdam in the Amstel Church by Karima el Fillali with members of the Amsterdam Andalusian Orchestra.
This second edition of Old Roots New Routes again offers space for a new ‘underground’ with a series of concerts of remarkable semi-acoustic music companies. They are rooted in Africa, the Maghreb, the Middle East and South America and have blossomed in the Dutch clay in recent years.
Tamala, one of the performing groups blends Senegalese musical heritage with Western modern influences. Surely one of my favorites, a concert not to miss….
Tamala Travelers between North and South
Barely one year old the group Tamala won two prestigious prizes for their debut album plus a performance at the famous British WOMAD Festival. The passionate trio brings an innovative repertoire, which propagates the Senegalese musical heritage and feeds on the eclectic input of Mola Sylla, Bao Sissoko and Wouter Vandenabeele. The texts of Tamala (‘traveler’ in Mandinka) are about personal questions, poetic journeys and a call to openness to others and respect for the environment. Tamala takes you on a journey where the sounds of violin and kora merge, and where Sylla’s voice is the guide that reveals the deepest of the soul.
The history of Senegalese photography begins in Saint-Louis du Sénégal, capital of the French Sudan, with the first African photographers who began their trade in the studios originally operated by white Europeans.
The African pioneers gave a less exotic, more modern and prosperous image of their fellow citizens, away from the typical western imagery.
This unique exhibition includes thirty images taken in Saint Louis by the earliest African photographers like Mama Casset whose name is less known by the Western public than that of Seydou Keita.
AND THE PRECURSORS OF PHOTOGRAPHY IN SENEGAL
In 1870, in Saint-Louis, the former capital of Senegal, Meissa Gueye, Doudou Diop, Mama Casset and others photographed the bourgeoisie and the Senegalese people. In 1940, in Dakar, Mama Casset set up her new studio “African Photo” and became the undisputed master of the portrait, creating the stereotypes of the pose in the studio, often used in painting and studio photography across the continent. One of the first African masters of photography.
Dakar ca 1950-1960. Photo Mama Casset, studio African Photo. Courtesy Revue Noire
St. Louis ca 1930. Photo Mama Casset, studio African Photo. Courtesy Revue Noire
Mama Casset, born in 1908, died in 1992 after a life spent first in Saint-Louis-du-Senegal and then in Dakar, in the Medina.
Initiated to the photography of the time of the colonization by the French Oscar Lataque, he will be enlisted in the French army to make aerial photographs. In the 1940s, he set up his studio, “African Photo”, in the Medina, to become the fashionable photographer of Dakar.
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