Sunday, March 28, 2010

One Man Thousand

The 1976 album Asaase Asa (Brobisco KBL 016) was a breakthrough hit for Alex Konadu, establishing him as Ghana's foremost exponent of "roots highlife." The title song is based on a true story about Mr. Asaase Asa, who lost both his wife and sister when they were killed by a falling tree. It is dedicated to all who have lost their loved ones.

Konadu had been singing since an early age, and became a leader of the Kantamanto Bosco Group before moving on to the band of the well-known Kwabena Akwaboah for three years and then to the Happy Brothers Band. After going solo he was discovered by the producer A.K. Brobbey and the rest, as they say, is history.

His ability to draw crowds wherever he goes has given Konadu the appellation "One Man Thousand." Withstanding the vicissitudes of fame and fashion, and staying true to his vision of pure, unadulterated highlife music, he has been an inspiration to Ghanaian musicians for years. While Konadu has issued many wonderful recordings over the decades, Asaase Asa is still considered one of his most noteworthy achievements. Enjoy!

Alex Konadu's Band - Obi Aware Wo

Alex Konadu's Band - Me Ne Me Aserene

Alex Konadu's Band - Obiri Pajampram

Alex Konadu's Band - Owuo Mpe Sika

Alex Konadu's Band - Emum Aso Dae

Alex Konadu's Band - Asem Ne Me Ara

Alex Konadu's Band - Asaase Asa

Alex Konadu's Band - W'awu Da Ho No

Download Asaase Asa as a zipped file here. For a taste of Alex Konadu recorded before a live audience,
be sure to check out his album One Man Thousand Live in London.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Another Souvenir

As a follow-up to the last post, here is another ukumbusho (souvenir) from another great exponent of Muziki wa Dansi, Tanzania's International Orchestra Safari Sound.

IOSS was formed in 1985 when businessman Hugo Kisima dissolved his group the Orchestra Safari Sound, and recruited six members of Mlimani Park Orchestra to form a new orchestra. IOSS & Mlimani were considered the two top rivals for leadership of the Tanzanian music scene for a time but for some reason Kisima dissolved IOSS in the early '90s. Confusingly, at one point Ndala Kasheba briefly revived the "old" Orchestra Safari Sound, and there may have been two factions of the International Orchestra Safari Sound, the IOSS (Ndekule) and IOSS (Duku Duku).

Shukrani kwa Mjomba (Ahadi/Flatim MSCAS 513) is credited to the International Orchestra Safari Sound (Ndekule), and as usual with Ahadi/Flatim releases provides no recording information other than a track-listing. As "Chatu Mkali" on the cassette inexplicably cuts off in the middle of the song, I've used the version from the CD Musiki wa Dansi: Afropop Hits from Tanzania (Africassette AC 9403, 1995), which is still in print and available here. Enjoy!

International Orchestra Safari Sound - Shukrani Kwa Mjomba

International Orchestra Safari Sound - Shida

International Orchestra Safari Sound - Pendo

International Orchestra Safari Sound - Majuto

International Orchestra Safari Sound - Kaka Kinyongoli

International Orchestra Safari Sound - Chatu Mkali

Download Shukrani Kwa Mjomba as a zipped file here. More IOSS here. The batik at the top of this post is taken from this website.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Tanzanian Souvenir

Orchestra Vijana Jazz, one of Tanzania's top dance bands, was founded in 1971 under the sponsorship of Umoja wa Vijana Tanzania, then the Youth League of the ruling Tanzania African National Union (TANU). Over the last couple of decades as the Tanzanian economy has "liberalized" I suspect Vijana has had to make its own way. It quite possibly may not exist anymore. The Orchestra has undergone numerous personnel changes over the years, notably the death of vocalist Hemed Maneti, who wrote some of the band's most memorable tunes like "Mary Maria" and "Tambiko la Pamba Moto."

"Ukumbusho" literally translates as "reminder" but it probably more closely means "souvenir" or "in memoriam." The cassette Ukumbusho: Hayati Hemed Maneti (Ahadi/Flatim MSKCAS 514) was apparently issued to commemorate the life of Vijana's beloved lead singer. As usual for an Ahadi/Flatim production the sound quality is not up to snuff. Musically it's memorable indeed.

Orchestra Vijana Jazz - Jiko Limenuna

Orchestra Vijana Jazz - Najilaumu

Orchestra Vijana Jazz - Nilitaka Iwe Siri

Orchestra Vijana Jazz - Unikubalie

Orchestra Vijana Jazz - Ndoa Ni Kuvumiliana

Orchestra Vijana Jazz - Madaraka Kwenye Bar

Download Ukumbusho as a zipped file here. More Vijana Jazz on Likembe here, and you can find another great cassette by them here.