Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Groovin' with Touré Kunda

In the early '80s, Touré Kunda, founded by brothers Amadou, Ismaïla and Sixu Touré in the Casamance region of Senegal, were slated to be the next World Music™ sensation. For a while it looked like they might make it. Albums like E'mma Africa and Casamance au Claire de Lune were well-received. The group embarked on a number of world tours, one of which produced the excellent live 2-LP set Live-Paris-Ziguinchor (Celluloid CEL 6710/11, 1984).

Some of my more purist-minded fellow African music fans looked down their noses at Touré Kunda. Their sound, not as hard-edged as the product coming out of Dakar, seemed suspiciously affable. Were Touré Kunda just a marketing gimmick? Were they an African version of The Monkees?

Not so! Touré Kunda's easy-going, less angular sound is deeply rooted in the Casamance, a region that was under Portuguese rule until 1888. And what's wrong with being likable and popular, anyway? Despite some ill-advised tech flourishes on their mid-'80s albums I've always appreciated Touré Kunda.

The 1992 cassette Sili Béto (Irema CB 521) dispensed with the "World Beat" excresences and was a welcome return to form for the group. I've always loved their take on reggae, and the Portuguese-influenced vocals are great as usual. I hope you'll enjoy it also!

Touré Kunda - Hadidia

Touré Kunda - Fatou Yo

Touré Kunda - Casalé

Touré Kunda - Akila

Touré Kunda - Soppé

Touré Kunda - Ké Diaré

Touré Kunda - Fiança

Touré Kunda - Téria

Touré Kunda - Cira

Touré Kunda - On Verra Quoi? Ça!

Touré Kunda - Oromiko

Download Sili Béto as a zipped file here.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Funky Jùjú Highlife From Ondo State

Who is Tayo Jimba? I have no idea. I do know that I enjoy this 1988 LP, Ise Aje (Leader LRCLS 65), a great deal. The label lists the musical style as "Jùjú/Highlife," and that sounds about right. It is actually quite similar to recordings I've posted here before by Adé Wesco and Orlando Owoh - a funky, rootsy, less-cluttered sound that takes us back a few decades to the point where jùjú and  highlife music were less differentiated.

The label also lists the language as "Yoruba/Ikale." Ikale is generally considered a dialect of Yoruba rather than a separate language, and since Ikale speakers are concentrated in Ondo State, western Nigeria, it's reasonable to surmise that Tayo Jimba is from there also. Reader/listeners are invited to tell us more.

Enjoy Ise Aje!

Tayo Jimba & his Black Shadows - Ori Mi / Oro Owo / Oro Nigeria

Download Ise Aje as a zipped file here.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

First-Generation Zouglou

Over the last few months we've been exploring the origins and development of zouglou music in Ivory Coast, and listening to some representative recordings. The website Music in Africa describes the style's origins as follows:

The musical roots of zouglou lie in the local Ivorian musical styles tohourou and aloucou from western Côte d’Ivoire, which became popular in the urban centres in the 1960s and 70s. The direct musical base of zouglou music grew out of what is known as ambiance facile or woyo: chants to percussive music on improvised instruments such as metal scrapers, glass bottles and of course drums. This music grew out of the songs that accompanied sports competitions in Côte d‘Ivoire‘s schools during the 1980s. Groups of students that called themselves “supporters committees” would accompany sports teams to the games and make up songs to encourage their teams. As school teams and their supporters committees travelled to matches against other schools across the country, they picked up new melodies and rhythms along the way.

Ambiance facile
and woyo music sessions also became a popular past-time in Abidjan’s working class (popular) neighborhoods. In these multi-ethnic neighborhoods, children and teenagers would teach each other songs from their home regions. This mostly unrecorded leisure music is still popular across Côte d’Ivoire. Through the sports matches and neighborhood sessions, ambiance facile drew on rhythms and melodies from many different regions of Côte d’Ivoire. Zouglou music also drew on these rhythms and melodies and thus became the first musical style that was considered to be multi-ethnic and nationally representative of Côte d’Ivoire.

In 1990, zouglou was invented first as a dance among university students residing in the Yopougon student accommodation at the University of Cocody in Abidjan, now known as Felix Houphouet-Boigny University. This dance consisted of throwing one’s arms in the air with angular movements, mimicking an imploration to God to help the university students that were suffering under the budgetary cuts in the education sector (fewer scholarships, inadequate student housing, catering and transport, etc.)...
The musical group Zougloumania, founded by the duo Poignon and Bouabré in 1990, was the biggest of the "First Generation" of zouglou groups. Its first and apparently only release, Zomammanzo (EMI E028991-4, 1991), hit the scene like a bombshell, becoming the greatest hit of the zouglou era, exceeded only by Magic System's "Premier Gaou," released in 1999. Listening to it, it's not hard to understand why - every track on Zomamanzo is a scorcher!

After this auspicious debut, Poignon and Bouabré went ther seaparate ways, bringing an end to Zougloumania. Bouabré moved to France and Poignon remained in Abidjan, becoming a solo artist as well as performing with Les Doyas, a trio composed of Poignon, Alan Bill and Yodé Côcô. He has lately been afflicted with facial paralysis and is in need of proper medical care. Let's hope he recovers soon!

Enjoy Zomamanzo!

Zougloumania - Zomamanzo

Zougloumania - Elle a Bu Degue

Zougloumania - Djaba

Zougloumania - Zito

Zougloumania - Ah Ma Soeur

Zougloumania - Tchicala

Zougloumania - Kapa

Zougloumania - Zomamanzo (Instrumental)

Download Zomamanzo as a zipped file here.