Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Belated Farewell to Seydou Zombra



In 1987 French producer Jean Philippe Rykiel produced Soro, an album by the legendary Malian vocalist Salif Keita that was acclaimed as a World Music™ classic. Sorry, but I just hated it. I'm not saying that African musicians aren't allowed to take advantage of the latest in studio technology to appeal to an international audience, but something about that particular effort just left me cold. Keita's beautiful voice was swamped in instrumentation and rococo flourishes. What a waste!

Today's offering is Synimory (EMI E0199912-4), a 1991 cassette by Burkinabé singer Seydou Zombra. Synimory was also produced by Rykiel. On Youtube you can find a number of previous recordings by Zombra, and you know what? I like this one the most. Here the production elevates rather than overwhelms Zombra's rather impressive vocal chops.

The music of Burkina Faso is not well-known outside that country. Musicians from Burkina, like Amadou Balaké, often migrate to other countries, like Ivory Coast, to record and make a decent living. In Zombra's case it was apparently his parents who moved to Abidjan, where he was born in 1956. He is said to have been a talented footballer in his youth before becoming a sports announcer for Radio France International's program, "Les Dieux du Stade," and producing numerous other programs for the station. His first LP, Gnoumbono (Capriccio 37077), was released in 1979.

After a long illness, Zombra passed away in Paris on July 16 of last year. He is missed by sports fans and music aficionados alike. Adieu!
   
Seydou Zombra - Synimory

Seydou Zombra - Yeleen

Seydou Zombra - Fangan (Instrumental)

Seydou Zombra - Denwolo

Seydou Zombra - Fangan

Seydou Zombra - Synimory (Instrumental)

Download Synimory as a zipped file here.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Sweet Sounds From Baba Gaston



I was all ready to post today's selection - Baba Gaston's wonderful 1983 release Condition Bi-Msum (ASL ASLP 971) - when I realized that Stefan Werdekker had made it available on his blog WorldService a while back. Should I or shouldn't I, I wondered? Then I decided to go ahead with it. If you missed it before, here's your chance to enjoy some of the sweetest soukous the '80s managed to produce.

I've written about Baba Gaston before. He's one of many Congolese musicians who made their way to East Africa during the '70s and '80s. Coming from Lubumbashi in the southern part of then-Zaïre, where Kiswahili was already the lingua franca, it wasn't a difficult transition for Gaston and his Orchestre Baba Nationale to settle down in Dar Es Salaam in 1971, relocating to Nairobi a few years later. Here the band gave rise to many offshoots and a distinctive East African iteration of the classic Congo rumba sound. It all came crashing down in 1985 when foreign musicians were ordered to leave Kenya under President Daniel Arap Moi.

Enjoy Condition Bi-Msum. And for more information about Baba Gaston and other Congolese musicians in East Africa, read Alastair Johnston's essential Congo in Kenya.

Baba Gaston - Ekelekele

Baba Gaston - Hello Hello


Baba Gason - Rudi Nyumbani Africa


Baba Gaston - Condition Bi-Msum

Download Condition Bi-Msum as a zipped file, complete with album and label art, here.


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Zouglou Gnakpa!



Les Côcôs were one of the innumerable groups that popped up during the first wave of Zouglou  in the Ivory Coast during the economic crisis of the early '90s. I wrote about the genre in an earlier post here. Through the travails of recent years, notably two civil wars, Zouglou has remained popular, according to this very informative article:

"...Through its emphasis on social and political criticism, zouglou developed into a form of Ivorian counter-culture. Zouglou musicians represent the perspective of marginalized youth and social underdogs and have been very critical of the devastating behavior of the wealthy and politically powerful in Côte d’Ivoire. Zouglou artists see their role as speaking truth to power, because, according to a famous nouchi (Ivorian street slang) saying, gbê est mieux que drap: “the truth is better than shame”. Zouglou music gave the youth in Abidjan a platform from which to participate in the public debate...."
As is often the case, I've been unable to find out much about Les Côcôs. After their first release, the cassette Zouglou Gnakpa (EMI EO38192-4, 1992), they seemed to disappear without a trace. That one, however, was a good seller and spawned at least one hit, "L'Enfant Yode" (listed as "Les Côcôs" on the inlay card), which has been included on several CD compilations. Enjoy Zouglou Gnakpa now!

Les Côcôs - L'Enfant Yode

Les Côcôs - Nathalie


Les Côcôs - Christina


Les Côcôs - Hommage


Download Zouglou Gnakpa as a zipped file, complete with scans of the inlay card, here.