Sunday, March 22, 2009

Africa Roots Vol. 4

I'll be out of town for a week and don't expect to be able to blog, but I wanted to get something in, so this one's a quickie.

I never managed to snag Vols. 1-3 of the legendary Africa Roots series, recorded at the Melkweg in Amsterdam in the early '80s. I did get hold of the fourth and final (?) installment, and what a wonderful recording it is!

Click on the picture below to read about the artists and the songs. The standout here is Mali's legendary Salif Keita along with the equally fabled Kante Manfila and Ousmane Kouyate, who deliver a scorching rendition of the Ambassadeurs classic "Primpin." Senegal's Baaba Maal, Algeria's Cheb Mami, Angola's Bonga and A.B. Crentsil from Ghana don't disappoint either with inspired renditions of some of their greatest songs. It's all good!

Listening to these tracks will take some of you back to the exciting days of the '80s when every day brought a new revelation for us African music fans and World Music™ had yet to be conceived. Enjoy!

Salif Keita & Les Ambassadeurs - Primpin

Baaba Maal & l'Orchestre - Dental

Baaba Maal & l'Orchestre - Yela

Baaba Maal & l'Orchestre - Lomtoro

Cheb Mami - Sanlou Ala Enabi

Bonga - Kua' Sanzala

Bonga - Camin Longe

A.B. Crentsil - Osokoo

A.B. Crentsil - Atia

A.B. Crentsil - Ahurusi

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Racines Africaines et Feeling Jazzy

Idrissa Diop's LP Femme Noire (Volume LK 0188, 1987) is complimentary, and a companion of sorts, to Seydina Insa Wade's Yoff (Disques Esperance ESP 8415, 1985), featured in my last post.

Superficially, of course, Diop's electronic explorations couldn't sound more different from Yoff's mellow groove. But Diop was the featured percussionist on Yoff, and both discs share a willingness to push the boundaries of the mainstream Senegal sound. According to the profile on Diop's MySpace page, Diop and Wade pursued parallel careers, both playing in the Rio Sextet and Calypso Jazz in Dakar besides collaborating in the folk group Tabala. Since parting way with Wade in the '80s Diop has pursued an adventurous career in Paris, founding the jazz group Sixun and performing with the likes of Harry Belafonte, Carlos Santana, Wayne Shorter and other musical luminaries.

The musicians on Femme Noire are unfortunately uncredited, although Diop gives thanks on the album sleeve to Xalam and French musician Jean-Philippe Rykiel.

Idrissa Diop - Yaracodo

Idrissa Diop - M'bidane (La Bonne)

Idrissa Diop - Gueule Tapée

Idrissa Diop - Worunana

Idrissa Diop - Kawele Ciosane (Ouverture)

Idrissa Diop - Djiguene Diou Nioule (Femme Noire)

Idrissa Diop - Sahel

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Senegalese Auteur

I ordered Seydina Insa Wade's LP Yoff (Disques Esperance ESP 8415, 1985) from Sterns many years ago not knowing anything about the album or the artist, and it was a revelation.
The LP achieves a magical blend of acoustic and electric sounds that stands out even among the many great Senegalese recordings of the '80s.

I had always thought that Yoff was a one-off effort by an otherwise obscure musician, but in researching this post I discovered that Seydina Insa Wade is anything but a flash in the pan. He is a highly accomplished auteur and composer whose work is greatly respected by all the giants of Senegalese music.

Wade was born in Dakar in 1948 and began his musical career in the Rio Sextet, later moving on to Calypso Jazz, with whom he performed in the first Festival Mondial des Arts Nègres (FESTAC I) in 1966. A sympathizer of the political Left in Senegal, Wade's compositions took on many of the social issues of the day. In the late '60s he briefly joined the first incarnation of Xalam, moving on to the Negro Stars, La Plantation and the Sahel Band.

It was in the early 1980s that Wade achieved what many consider the apotheosis of modern Senegalese folk music with the formation of the acoustic group Tabala, featuring percussionist Idrissa Diop and multi-instrumentalist Oumar Sow. These were the musicians with whom Wade recorded Yoff, which brought him a measure of renown and a tour of several European countries. The musicians subsequently went their separate ways, Sow returning to Senegal to join Youssou N'dour's Super Etoile, Diop forming the jazz-fusion group Sixun, and Wade rejoining the reconstituted Xalam.

In 2003 Seydina Insa Wade returned to Senegal to reunite with Oumar Sow and record the CD Xalima, the subject of a documentary by filmmaker Ousmane William Mbaye, "Xalima-La Plume."

Click on the pictures to read the liner notes (in French).

Seydina Insa Wade - Ciat

Seydina Insa Wade - Fama Re

Seydina Insa Wade - Yoff

Seydina Insa Wade - So Bugge

Seydina Insa Wade - Beure Bouki Ak M'Bam

Seydina Insa Wade - Seni Dom

Seydina Insa Wade - Taaruna

Seydina Insa Wade - Len Dem

Download Yoff as a zipped file here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Navigating the Boundary Between Highlife and Jùjú

There's been a lot of good jùjú on the Internets lately - from Comb & Razor here and here, Worldservice here and here, and at Snap, Crackle & Pop here - so I figured why shouldn't I get into the act? Besides, it's been a while since I posted some good old Yoruba Soul Music.

I can tell you very little about Ade Wesco and his Destiny Dandies. Wesco rates a brief entry in Ronnie Graham's The World of African Music (Pluto Press/Research Associates, 1992) where his sound is described as ". . . highlife enriched with traditional percussion and distinctly Yoruba vocals." The label of his LP Aye Wa Adun (Ibukun Orisun Iye MOLPS 35, 1976) describes the contents as "jùjú," and judging by that album at least (the only one by him I've heard, although he released a number of others) his music is a true synthesis of the two styles, much like that of Orlando Owoh.

Be that as it may, you can decide for yourself. Here's the album in full. It's fine, fine stuff:

Ade Wesco & his Destiny Dandies - Aye Wa Adun/Adun ni Gbehin Ewuro/Ibukun Orisun Iye/Tiwa ni Tiwa

Ade Wesco & his Destiny Dandies - Ogo ni Fun Baba Loke/Irawo Wa Ntan Loke/A Dupe Baba Wa/Bayi Loda/Amariran Wo/Oniyeye