Monday, May 25, 2009

Some More Seldom-Heard Tracks by Remmy Ongala

Like Comb and Razor, I seem to be experiencing some difficulty managing to get a post up, not, as in Uchenna's case, because I'm terribly busy with anything else, but because of a general sense of ennui. Spring fever perhaps?

Anyway, I've got a few things in the works, but I just realized that it's been more than two weeks since I've posted, so here's something in the nature of a stop-gap.

In one of my first dispatches, I posted five tracks from Remmy Ongala's two 1988 albums On Stage With Remmy Ongala (Ahadi AHDLP 6007) and Nalilia Mwana (Womad WOMAD 010). Which leaves seven tunes that I didn't post, so here they are!

"Tembea Ujionee," from Nalilia Mwana, means "Travel and See For Yourself." Remmy sings, "Travel and see for yourself. Don't wait to be told about it. There are many things to see in the world. Waiting for you. . ." By the way, although the liner notes of the LP credit this song to "Remmy Ongala & Orchestra Super Matimila," I suspect it, along with other songs on Nalilia Mwana, was recorded when Ongala was with Orchestra Makassy. That sounds an awful lot like Mose Fan Fan Se Sengo on lead guitar!

Remmy Ongala & Orchestra Super Matimila - Tembea Ujionee

In "Mnyonge Hana Haki" ("The Poor Have No Rights") Remmy deplores the plight of the unfortunate. "I have nothing to say. . . Remmy is a poor man, an ugly man. Remmy has nothing to say to his companions. A bicycle has nothing to say in front of a motorbike. A motorbike has nothing to say in front of a car. A car has nothing to say in front of a train. The poor have nothing to say in front of the rich. . . The poor have no rights."

Remmy Ongala & Orchestra Super Matimila - Mnyonge Hana Haki

The liner notes of Nalilia Mwana state that "Arusi ya Mwanza"
is ". . . about a young woman who is married in Mwanza and goes to live with her husband in Dar es Salaam. After a few days he deserts her and she is too ashamed to return home to face the questions of her parents and neighbors. She warns other women that men are deceitful and will promise a house and car to make girls give up their studies. She herself only wanted to be happy and start a family like her friends. . ."

Remmy Ongala & Orchestra Super Matimila - Arusi ya Mwanza

On Stage With Remmy Ongala unfortunately doesn't provide song translations.

Remmy Ongala & Orchestra Super Matilmila - Sauti ya Mnyonge

Remmy Ongala & Orchestra Super Matimila - Asili ya Muziki

Remmy Ongala & Orchestra Super Matimila - Maisha

Remmy Ongala & Orchestra Super Matimila - Mama Mzazi

If you would like to recreate the original LPs using the other five tunes, the tracklistings are as follows:

Nalilia Mwana (
Womad WOMAD 010, 1988)
1. Nalilia Mwana
2. Sika ya Kufa
3. Tembea Ujionee
4. Ndumila Kuwili
5. Mnyonge Hana Haki
6. Arusi ya Mwanza

On Stage With Remmy Ongala
(Ahadi AHDLP 6007, 1988)
1. Sauti ya Mnyonge
2. Asili ya Muziki
3. Maisha
4. Kifo
5. Mama Mzazi
6. Narudi Nyumbani
The picture at the top of this post is from this site.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Fulani Voice

I linked to a video by Senegalese musician Abou Diouba Deh in my last post about Fatou Laobé without realizing that I've had one of his cassettes for some time, and an excellent one it is.

Like Laobé and the well-known Baaba Maal, Abou Diouba Deh is a member of the Fulani ethnic group. The Fulani, traditionally nomadic, have played an outsize role in West African history. From their homeland in the Fouta Tooro region of northern Senegal and southern Mauretania they have spread as far as the Central African Republic and Sudan. The most prominent Fulani in modern history was Usman Dan Fodio, a religious mystic and political reformer who founded the powerful Sokoto Caliphate in the early 19th Century in what is now Northern Nigeria. Numerous other West African leaders are of Fulani descent.

I've been unable to find out much about Abou Diouba Deh, but his cassette Yoo Bele Ndenndu (Tiïtounde) (Talla Diagne), which I post here, is a great example of the popular "neo-traditional" current in Senegalese music, traditional xalaam and percussion brilliantly complemented by the (uncredited) electric guitar. Enjoy!

Abou Diouba Deh - Gidam

Abou Diouba Deh - Ganndo Mayo

Abou Diouba Deh - Uururbe Daakaa

Abou Diouba Deh - Jaaraama Laaba Juude

Abou Diouba Deh - Beeli Seeno

Abou Diouba Deh - Jasar Wuddu Mbodo

Abou Diouba Deh - Taan Seex Aljumaa Bah

Abou Diouba Deh - Teddungal

Here's that YouTube Video. The cars racing by in the background detract a bit from the folkloric mood, I think:

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Dakar Divas Pt. 6: Fatou Laobé

Barely known to me until I picked up a few of her CDs in NYC's Little Senegal a few weeks ago, Fatou Laobé is a huge star in Senegal, and a welcome addition to the Dakar Divas pantheon.

Fatou got her start as a backup singer and dancer with musicians like
Baaba Maal and Ousmane Hamady Diop, and has toured the world with Youssou N'dour and Abou Diouba. Striking out on her own in 2000, she released l'An 2000 with her group le Laobé Gui on N'dour's Jololi label. The recordings have followed fast and furious ever since. Her music is deeply rooted in the folklore of the Laobé, a subset of the Pulaar, or Fulani, people who are known for their craftsmanship.

The six tunes on offer here are taken from three CDs: Hé Laobé Rewmi (Origines, 2004), Bara Mamadou Lamine (Ekla, 2008), and Keysi Bousso (Ekla, 2008). Enjoy!

Fatou Laobé & le Laobé Gui - Gambia Modou

Fatou Laobé & le Laobé Gui - Gawlo

Fatou Laobé & le Laobé Gui - Bara Mamadou Lamine

Fatou Laobé & le Laobé Gui - Doolé

Fatou Laobé & le Laobé Gui - Lambo

Fatou Laobé & le Laobé Gui - Harouma Play-Boy

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Ramiro Naka Ramiro

Since achieving independence from Portugal in 1974, the small west African nation of Guinea-Bissau hasn't been much in the news until recently, when a series of political upheavals, fueled in part by drug trafficking, has brought it to the world's attention.

Bissau's music is also little-known, but Super Mama Djombo and Kaba Mane have achieved some recognition outside the country. Another prolific Bissau artist is Ramiro Gómes Días, better known as Ramiro Naka, or sometimes Naka Ramiro. He was born in 1955 and formed his first band, N'kassa Cobra, sometime around Independence. His disagreements with Bissau's new rulers led him to relocate to Lisbon in 1976, and later to Paris, where he established the Orchestre de Guinea-Bissau, which achieved some distinction in the lively African music scene as the foremost purveyor of Bissau's indigenous Goumbé style.

A series of excellent, if not always well-known recordings has followed, and Naka has also established himself as an actor in the nascent Guinea-Bissau film industry. I hope you will enjoy these selections from his early recording career, all released in the 1980s.

In "Ou Moundou Balas," from his album Je Viens d'Ailleurs (Rá Dya Music DYA 81055, 1983), Ramiro Naka sings in Mandjacque, "The world of singers is considered to be a crazy world. But in my eyes this world is more important than being a king. I will sing about it to the new world":

Ramiro Naka & l'Orchestre de la Guinee-Bissau - Ou Moundou Balas

"Fanta Mané," also from
Je Viens d'Ailleurs, is in the Portuguese-based Crioulo language of Guinea-Bissau and the Casamance region of Senegal. It is about a boy who traveled to the town of Farim to meet the beautiful Fanta Mané. In this way he discovered the happiest city in Guinea-Bissau:

Ramiro Naka & l'Orchestre de la Guinee-Bissau - Fanta Mané

"Meu Trabalho," from Bikelia Ma Fiancée (Ramiro Naka RA 81065) expresses Naka's philosophy of life: "I prefer to entertain you so that you can forget life's chimeras. It's impossible to do both at the same time. Earning money is nice, but it is still necessary to do what one wants":

Ramiro Naka & l'Orchestre de la Guinee-Bissau - Meu Trabalho

Also from Bikelia Ma Fiancée. "I never get tired of talking to you about Guinea-Bissau. She is found at the end of the world in a small corner, but she exists all the same":

Ramiro Naka & l'Orchestre de la Guinee-Bissau - M'bin de Lundju

The title track of Bikelia. "
You arrived with only one glance and only one smile. You changed my life. For freedom let us remain good friends in happiness and keep trouble far from our marriage":

Ramiro Naka & l'Orchestre de la Guinee-Bissau - Bikelia Kelly

Na Bolon (N'kassa Cobra NK 04880) finds Ramiro Naka reuniting with his old band N'kassa Cobra (who also did at least one recording on their own, 1995's Lundju), and hewing closer to the "mainstream" African sound. Unfortunately, summaries of the lyrics aren't available:

Ramiro Naka & N'kassa Cobra - Na Bolon

Ramiro Naka & N'kassa Cobra - Kara Bacile

Ramiro Naka & N'kassa Cobra - Nha Indimigo

Many thanks to my daughter Aku for translating the liner notes from Je Viens d'Ailleurs and Bikelia Ma Fiancée.