Welcome to Jozi, house capital of the world

view from plane -feb 13-gecompthe past few weeks I spent some hectic time in South Africa, hence my absence from these pages. No time to write, just soo busy travelling, meeting exciting people and partying on Valentine’s Day in Jo’burg. That was followed by a fatal morning when the newspapers announced the murder of Reeva Steenkamp, the girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius. Talk of the day and on the front pages for the rest of my journey in South Africa. Thankfully there was more fun and excitement to fill my days and nights; looking for rare records and the sound of Johannesburg!

It was in the streets of hip Melville that I witnessed some of the most exciting new hybrid of house music, coming out of shops and boomboxes of passing cars. So as a fresh post here today, I report on the house scene of Johannesburg, a city also called Jozi by its loving citizens.

truth presents detaill

 “People making house music in shacks in townships, it’s everywhere, on the radio, tv and media”

in association with KALAWA JAZMEE
is delighted to invite you to

Talking To The Drums

Venue: The TreeHouse Club,Museum Hill Westlands
Date: Friday 15th February 2013
From: 9pm – 5 am

Entry: Ksh 1,000
(Advanced tickets information to follow shortly)

Age: +21

Join the movement and witness the marriage between Native and Contemporary Instruments.

The ELECTRAFRIQUE family, is a worldwide network of Artistes & Deejays fusing African and Electronic sounds.

Music Policy:

More details:

Robert aka Dj Murder lives in a homemade overthrow of corrugated iron. He is sleeping between his greatest asset, a battery of computers and keyboard types.

With his buddy Thabo ‘Smol’ Mabogevane he forms the duo Black Motion, one of the new young house-sensations in Johannesburg. 2011 and 2012 was big time for the duo as they headlined concerts all over the world in places like Miami, Canada, United Kingdom etc. Through a mutual relationship the boys have been offered to create music in a professional studio but they choose for the impromptu studio in the shack – ‘home is where the heart is’. Black Motion is one of the acts which is showcased in Real Scenes: Johannesburg, a recent short documentary about the thriving house scene of South Africa’s capital.

black motion in studio
Black Motion

In one of the scenes the boys can be found hunched over the illuminated displays, while a monotonous drumbeat fills the space, synths vibrate into a warm flow and their bodies rhythmically pan on the hypnotic groove. Their sound is based on that of pioneer-dj Oskido who discovered Black Motion in 2010. Ricardo Da Costa of Soul Candi Records defines the genre as a slowed down version of the original American house music but with even deeper basses and more complex rhythms, interwoven with a spirituality which is inspired by traditional drumpatterns of the African ancestors.

black coffee in studio
Black Coffee

The classical trained musician Black Coffee is perhaps the most famous South African dj of the moment. He is seen as someone who passes the positive message of house as a true ‘griot’. In Africa, griots are known to pass the history and culture of a certain tribe through music and song. His albums are good for gold. The man conquers the country with a full symphonic orchestra during megaconcerts where those by Madonna fade. Black Coffee is at present travelling the world giving European and American tours.

Through the success of Black Motion  and other young and established acts, black boys in cities such as Johannesburg today dream of becoming the next famous dj and producer of hits. Black Coffee, Black Motion, Culoe De Song, Mash-O (the Drum herbalist) and white wunderboy Ralf Gum are just a few names of a new generation in Johannesburg that dreams aloud about house music as a way out of the townships. The prevailing sentiment is that house music can create a better future for everyone in South Africa. Hope rises on the horizon. DJ Black Coffee’s latest album is applicable called ‘Africa Rising’.

black coffee coverblack coffee coverblack coffee cover

Top 5 -Jozi House

1. Black Motion – Aquarian Drums -(album CD -Kalawa Jazmee Dance 2012)

2.Ralf Gum – Linda featuring Oluhle (album track from CD ‘Never Leaves You’ -Gogo Music/House Afrika 2012)

3. Black Coffee -Africa Rising (Deluxe Album CD -Soulistic/Risa 2012)

4. Mash-O (Drum Herbalist) -Ishikhalo Shenhliziyo featuring Oluhle (album track from CD ‘Mash-O (Drum Herbalist)’ -Herbal Records 2012)

5. Culoe De Song -A Giant Leap (Album CD-Soulistic/Risa 2012)

Dube Shangaan Drums Group, Princess Jokazi and her Group

This 45 rpm EP was released in the early 1960’s as part of a series on African Tribal dances, performed at the Witwatersrand Goldmines near Johannesburg. Side one features recordings by the Dube Shangaan Drums Group while the other side has 2 tracks recorded in the Xhosa language by Princess Jokazi and her Group (Witchdoctor)

See also dances from the Witwatersrand Gold Mines and more African tribal dances from the Witwatersrand Gold Mines

African drumbeat ep -His Master’s Voice 7EPJ5, South Africa

Dube Shangaan Drums Group -Tiba

 Princess Jokazi and her Group (Witchdoctor) -Tikoloshe

In Zulu mythology, Tikoloshe, Tokoloshe or Hili (from the Xhosa word utyreeci ukujamaal) is a dwarf-like water sprite. It is considered a mischievous and evil spirit that can become invisible by swallowing a pebble. Tokoloshes are called upon by malevolent people to cause trouble for others. At its least harmful a tokoloshe can be used to scare children, but its power extends to causing illness and even death upon the victim. The way to get rid of him is to call in the n’anga (witch doctor), who has the power to banish him from the area.*

*source wiki

Dances of the Salampasu, Zaire

Goodbye 2011, welcome 2012. Best wishes!

so have you enjoyed the holidays? Just like last year my visit to the colonial museum in Tervuren, Belgium was a special experience. The Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) in Tervuren  is one of the most fascinating and beautiful African institutions in the world. The exhibition “UNCENSORED. Colorful stories behind the scenes”, is the last exhibition before the major renovation  begins at the end of 2012 and is your last chance to visit a traditional ‘colonial museum .

elephant in the snow The Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren B

This time my interest was stirred since I received these rare recordings  as a Christmas present, made by Jos Gansemans in 1973 in Zaire, sponsored by the Royal Museum for Central Africa. The recordings come from a people called the Salampasu, which are distinguished by the use of the  xylophone, similar to the music of the  Mchopi tribe or Chopi, a Bantu-speaking people of northern Mozambique on the borders of Tanganyika. See also my previous post more African tribal dances from the Witwatersrand Gold Mines …

Mask Sakashya Makondi

Dances of the Salampasu, Zaire

The territory of the Salampasu in the south of the Kasayi province/Zaire is bordered by the Lulua and the Kasayi-rivers. Their neighbouring people are the Lunda in the South, the Kete in the north and east and the Lwalwa in the west.

Because of their bloodthirsty behaviour and because of the headhunting, in the past frequently attended by cannibalism, they became very feared. Consequently they remained a homogeneous people that succeeded in keeping its traditions, language and customs free from foreign influences.

To dance, the Salampasu dress up themselves with all kinds of skins, head-dresses and body paintings. The ritual characteristics find their best expression in the head-hunting dance matambu, the mask dances and the dances held during the healing rituals as there the Luanda, the mfuku, the utshumbu and the kabulukuta, the latter exclusively being performed by women. On the organological level they differ from the Lunda, Kete and Luba by the apparent preference they give to the xylophone madimba, the most important instrument of their orchestras.

From the liner notes of the album ‘Zaire, Musique de Salampasu’ Radio France BRT 1981 by Jos Gansemans

Zaire -Salampasu -Nazuji

Zaire -Salampasu -Sanza Ensemble

Salampasu -Misengu dance

Zaire -Salampasu -Misengu

Misengu dance

The misengu dance, Mukasa Nsaka, is one of the most impressive dances of the Salampasu.

The quantity of dancers easily amounts up to around a hundred, separated in two groups.

Now and then the groups are facing each other, they run around while dancing and threaten each other with their fightful swords, meanwhile they stamp loudly on the floor and made resound their ankle-rattles isuka. The xylophone and drum orchestra accompanying this dance is composed of four madimba xylophones, two ngoma drums beaten with the hands and two cylindrical drums ikandi on which they play with two sticks.

 Zaire -Salampasu -Kalesa

All recordings from the album ‘Zaire, Musique de Salampasu’ Radio France BRT 1981

Music Meeting: exciting musical encounters 11-13 June Nijmegen

it’s summer and time for festivals again. With the current wave of sunny days and warm evenings here in Holland, this coming weekend promises to be exciting and interesting.

Music Meeting is an international music festival that unites musical genres from all the corners of the globe: ranging from jazz, soul and funk to klezmer and from gypsy to afro-latin. Ever since it’s founding in 1985 Music Meeting has revolved around improvisation, adventure and experimentation. In twenty-five years Music Meeting has become an established festival, which time and again has presented exceptional and undiscovered talent. The core of the festival consists of projects not bounded by a concept as ‘genre’, performed by artists from diverse cultural backgrounds, who previously have never collaborated. Imagine free jazz combined with minimal music plus a hint of Hebrew soul and Bedouin song.

Some of the artists of African origins or collaborating with Europeans are

Getatchew Mekuria & The Ex & Guests (Nederland, Ethiopië)

Thione Seck Orientation (Senegal)

Djelimady Tounkara String Theory (Mali)

Analog Africa Soundsystem (dj-set) (Germany)

Super Rail Band (Mali)

Dobet Gnahoré (Ivory Coast, France)

Lionel Loueke (Benin, Nederland)

See the full program and details here 

Music Meeting takes place during Whitsun in the lush green Park Brakkestein, bordering the Radboud University of Nijmegen.

At night time the festival spirit is continued in the popular music venue Doornroosje, during which under the name of Club !mm…! a variety of music cultures are blended in with electronic and live dance beats. Here with the younger music- and dance enthusiasts in mind, musicians and DJ’s create an experimental open-minded atmosphere resembling modern music scenes in Rio de Janeiro and New York.

Date   Artists Location Category
11 june 
Dobet Gnahoré
Ivoorkust, Frankrijk
Apollo concert
11 june
Benda Bilili! Movie Meeting movie
11 june
Lionel Loueke
Benin, Nederland
Apollo concert
11 june
Hazmat Modine & Gangbé Brass Band
VS, Benin
Apollo concert
Date   Titel Location Category
12 june
Boris Tchango & Lucas Niggli
Togo, Zwitserland
Hortus Arcadië brunchconcert
12 june
Gangbé Brass Band & Harmonie Tarcisius
Nederland, Benin
Mondo concert
12 june
Latin meetz Afro Intro cross-overproject
12 june
Super Rail Band
Mali, Afrika
Apollo concert
12 june
Analog Africa Soundsystem (dj-set)
Club ¡mm…! dj
Date   Artists Location Category
13 june 
Djelimady Tounkara String Theory
Hortus Arcadië concert
13 june
Getatchew Mekuria & The Ex & Guests
Nederland, Ethiopië
Mondo concert
13 june 
Thione Seck Orientation
Apollo concert

Chants et danses de Guinée-Keita Fodeba introduces Casamance

Les Ballets Africains was formed in 1954 by Keita Fodeba in Guinea, the former French Guinée, sometimes called Guinée-Conakry. See also my previous post on Bakary Sissoko and Daouda Diabaté .

Dance was the primary attraction of the troupe because it allowed Keita Fodeba to express many aspects of African life style by using original rhythms created by numerous unique instruments. Many folk singers and players of the traditional music were brought into the group and presented to the world during their numerous European tours.

The success these t0urs generated brought also numerous recording sessions, often registering for the first time African folk music from different parts of the continent.

On this French EP  “Chants et danses de Guinée” Keita Fodeba introduces  the Créole Portuguese dialect Casamance, in which most of the songs are sung. This rare EP features a selection of popular folk material, songs centuries old, often with a humorous undertone, sometimes mocking modern technology, like the song ‘Téléphonista’, a declaration of love by the telephone.

Side 1 -Couri-Couri/Aloa/Carolina

Side 2 –Téléphonista/Laïla/Saidouba

Ensemble Keita Fodeba   ‘Chants et danses de Guinée’
Le chant du monde  LDY 4048 -French pressing 1958

Afro/Dutch fusion Pili Pili -Jasper Van ‘T Hof 1984

I noticed that at record fairs most collectors  shy away from crates filled with records from the 80’s. For most punters that era is bliss but for some these years were the most despicable era in music.

I agree it’s not the most inspiring period that came directly after the revolution that Punk had created. Adam Ant, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Rick Astley, Culture Club, Asia…not in my  collection, please.  But wait a minute…

I remember that preceding the Eighties, Punk not only brought a fresh wind into the concept of making music, but also changed the way we listened to music. Pop became adventurous again, exploring new musical territory beyond the horizon of the charts.

Styles like Ska and Reggae, Dub, World music were on the menu in hip circles and on the radio. Burundi drums were discovered by New Wave bands like PIL or The Monochrome Set. The 1971 original recording of Burundi ‘Stephenson’  Black’s tribal drum suite became a well-known 80’s dancefloor tune, loved by Punks and New Romantics alike.

Burundi ‘Stephenson’  Black -Burundi Black Pt 1

Producer Malcolm McLaren started a  band called Bow Wow Wow and became very successful with those tribal rhytms. Later he would exploit things further with beats and sounds from South Africa on his album ‘Duck Rock’.

In Holland a few small independent labels started releasing more experimental stuff inspired by Afro-rhythms and grooves. Like Dutch jazz pianist and keyboard-player Jasper Van ‘T Hof who worked in 1987 with singer Angelique Kidjo on the album ‘Jakko’.

‘Ambandru’ is a jazzy workout over Burundi type of drums, taken from the album ‘Jakko’ (1987). ‘Pili Pili’ was released  earlier in 1984 as a single and quite a big hit here in Europe.

Jasper Van ‘t Hof -Ambandru

Jasper Van ‘t Hof -Pili Pili (short)

Kouyate Kandia -Des Ballets Africains De Keita Fodéba. Vogue EPL 7257

my previous post on Sissoko Bakary & Daouda Diabaté -Des Ballets Africains De Keita Fodéba featured an EP that was part of a series of French recordings.

Today’s post is about another record in the same series with catalog nr. EPL 7257, released in the late 50’s.

Kouyate Kandia is a singer and guitarist, from the mountainous region of Fouta-Djallon in Guinea, the former French Guinee, sometimes called Guinee-Conakry. He was discovered by Keita Fodéba who added him to the cast of Les Ballets Africains,  an all African-star performance that premiered at  Theatre Etoile de Paris on November of 1952 in Paris. It was an instant success. Keita Fodéba moved the production to Africa in 1955 and toured the continent for six years to become the national dance company of Guinea. His life is as spectacular as it is tragic. After he became Minister of Defense in Guinea in 1961 his life ended in jail, where he was murdered.

Musician sensitive and delicate,  guitarist Kandia Kouyate is equally blessed with an exceptional voice, a mezzo-soprano. He sings about love and the virtues of tradional African society in traditional songs from Soudan and Guinee.

Kouyate Kandia -Des Ballets Africains De Keita Fodéba

Vogue EPL 7257 France

side 1

1. Nina (Haute Guinee)

2. Toubaka (Guinee)

side 2

3. Malissadio (Soudan)

4. Chant De Rejouissance w/ choir of men and women


guitar; Koyah Marof, Kante Facelli

tam tam; Raphael Wigbert

maracas; Maninka

choir of men and women

3 good intentions for 2011

1. Visit Bokoor House, Accra in Ghana

Partly museum dedicated to Ghanian Highlife on shellac 78’s, partly education cultural centre and music recording studio. Run by John Collins who collects photographs, newspaper clippings, old record covers, a unique collection of shellac records and an extensive selection of traditional and modern musical instruments. Bokoor House is also the home of a library and music practice rooms and a private label, ‘Bokoor Beats’ on which many original Highlife music treasures are been re-released.

2. See Ballaké Sissoko & Vincent Segal in concert

Together with the French cellist Vincent Segal, Ballaké Sissoko
pushes the limits of new musical territory at the intersection of Malian court music and jazz. The CD “ChamberMusic” is their joint effort and clearly  a good indication of what a live concert by the duo
and their musicians promises to be.
See a live registration at the Rhino Festival 2009, Lyon France

3. Visit ILAM, Grahamstown, South Africa

ILAM (International Library Of African Music) is the home of the Hugh Tracey archives and a vast collection of traditional African music instruments on show.  The small CD store on the grounds of the institute has a great selection of releases  like, ‘The Music Of Africa’ by Hugh Tracey , produced by him in the early 1960’s as on off-shoot of his 218 volumes ‘Sound Of Africa’ series, in order to present African music to a wider audience. ILAM has re-issued, without modifications, the original LP series in CD format.  SWP Records, the label of Michael Baird, is  also part of their catalogue.

For description of each CD, go to ILAM

Yuletide Griots Riot

last Christmas my review and mix of the past year represented the fertile music of South Africa, this year Soul Safari criss-crosses the whole continent in search of music treasures.

From Sub-Saharan Africa up to Algeria, with the accent on the stringed instrument; guitar, cora, the oud, sekhankula and the Nguni string bow. And poetic stories, in words and mood.

Traditional griot music meets the seductive charm from Algeria, cora from Senegal by Bakary Sissoko and Daouda Diabaté blends seamlessly with pure guitar poetry from Francis Bebey…a Nguni Christmas song by Princess Constance Magogo, jazz & happy Jive from South Africa, Congolese soukous and  rhumba by Orchestre Loga, Nigerian juju dub from Dele Abiodun.

A surprising discovery this year was this album from 1984, ‘Très Fâché, Très Fâché‘ by guitar player and singer Rémi Sah’lomon et Le Matanga from Brazzaville, Congo. Rémi was bassist, singer of varieties, arranger of the National Youth Orchestra of Congo, and at the same time the second bassist in L’ Orchestra Bantou. He made his debut in L’Orchestra Siza Kotoko Ya Gaby. Great soukous tracks on this album!

A selection of  recent finds from the past year mixed with a few timeless classics from the Soul Safari archives. Now, what more can one wish for the Yuletide season?

01. Francis Bebey -Jesu, que ma joie demeure

02. P. Ben Mouhamed & M. Idir -A Vava Inou Va

03. Bakary Sissoko & Daouda Diabaté -Diaka

04. Princess Constance Magogo KaDinuzulu -Bambulal’ uJesu yamaJuda (The Crucified Jesus of the Jews)

05. Raisse Omar Ouhrouche -M’sak Salkhir Awali Ghetella Nite

06. Remi Sah’lomon et le Matanga -Africa Matanga

07. Akendenuge -Aiyan

08. Vicky & L’Orchestre OK Jazz -Mwana Ponaka

09. Opic 17 -Orchestre Lago -Okoyoka Eloko Pona Zuwa

10. Mthunzini Girls -Uyangibiza

11. Elias Mathebula & The Chivani Sisters -Ntela A Tingangeni

12. Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje -Omzala Bakho

13. Dele Abiodun -Confrontation Adawa Super Dub

Yuletide Griots Riot / DivShare

Happy Holidays!

best wishes for the Yuletide season from Soul Safari

even more African tribal dances; Shangaan & Makishi dancers & singers

The so called Shonas (named by the Ndebeles) are a mixture of the Ndaus, Karangas, Korekore(kwerekwere). These people  migrated to Zimbabwe from Tanzania (Tanganyika) as the Bantu. They split into many groups , some live in SA, Mozambique and Zimbabwe eg the Shangaan people. The Shangaan are a mixture of Nguni language group which includes Swazi, Zulu and Xhosa, and Tsonga speakers (Ronga, Ndzawu, Shona, Chopi tribes).

Mambuaulela Makhubela & his Shangaan Drum Dancers -Park Station

about Shangaan Dance

In the Shangaan tradition, the storyteller is the grandmother or elder woman of the family who is the respected transmitter of the old stories. The old woman, called Garingani, or narrator, begins her storytelling by saying “Garingani, n’wana wa Garingani!” – “I am Narrator, daughter of Narrator!” after which the crowd cheers “Garingani”. The crowd chants her name after each line of the story.

With a love for music, the Shangaan people have developed a number of musical instruments. The ‘fayi’ – a small, stubby wooden flute that produces a breathless, raspy, but haunting sound, and is often played by young herd boys. The ‘xitende’, is a long thin bow tied on each end by a taut leather thong or wire – which runs across a gourd. This was often used to alleviate boredom on long journeys.

Amakwaya Shangaan Choir

The Shangaan is well known for their mine dances, carried out to the beat of drums and horns and wide variety of musical instruments such as the mbira. Shangaan male dancers performed the muchongolo dance, which celebrated the role of women in society, war victories and ritual ceremonies.

see also previous post Shangaan mine dances at the Witwatersrandmines

about Makishi Dance

As with most African customs, song and dance is crucial to their ceremonies. The makishi are shrouded in secrecy and it is taboo to ask who hides behind the mask. The makishi are spirits that represent the ancestors and they command the utmost respect. The makishi normally appear during the mukanda (circumcision ceremony), then return to their graves immediately afterwards. Their appearance creates an eerie but fascinating atmosphere.

Makishi dancers & singers

Makishi dancers have intrigued and intimidated audiences for centuries. The Makishi attach themselves to the world of spirits and demons and, while dancing, lose their personal identity, becoming the character they portray. The Shangaan, by contrast, are fighters and hunters, boasting of their bravery and strength in vigorous authentic group dancing, stamping their feet on bare earth, raising the dust and rushing at the audience in mock-attacks.

See video Makishi & other dances

A selection of different dances from the Shangaan, Makishi and Nyau tribes.

Musical selections taken from the EP ‘Shangaan Musa’ Gallo FP1 Johannesburg, South Africa.

Pics by Falls Promotion, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

Content taken from various sources including the linernotes.