Showing posts with label Swahili. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Swahili. Show all posts

Sunday, June 24, 2018

More Military Sounds from Kenya



Kenya's Maroon Commandos have been featured here on Likembe a couple of times. In March I posted their LP Mwakarabishwa na Maroon and more than ten years ago a great 45 by them, "Liloba."

The Maroons are the offficial band of the 7th Kenya Rifles of the Kenyan Army, based in Langata Barracks, Nairobi, and were led for many years by Habel Kifoto. Composing and singing lead on many of their biggest hits, including "Liloba," was bassist Laban Ochuka, who at some point hived off and formed his own band, Ulinzi Orchestra, who give us today's musical offering, 1991's Sina Uwezo (Polydor POLP 610). From the very sketchy info I've been able to dig up on the internet, Ulinzi also have some affiliation with the Kenyan military. Google Translate (not always dependable, I know) renders "ulinzi" as "protection." Maybe it could be "defense?" So if the group is army-related, that would make sense.

Ulinzi in this album go for a more forward-facing, disco-inflected sound than the Maroons. I don't know about any other recordings by them, but they seemed to be extant for a number of years after Sina Uwezo and may still exist. Ochuka left the band in 2003 to sing gospel music, but returned in 2005. Sadly, he passed away in 2006 and was laid to rest at his home in Bunyore, western Kenya.




Download Sina Uwezo as a zipped file here.


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Wanyika's Back!



I promised this one a while back, and here it is! Tanzanian/Kenyan superstars Les Wanyika give us another scinitillating slice of Swahili Rumba, 1989's Nimaru (Polydor POLP 598). Nothing much to say about this one, so I'll let the music speak for itself. Enjoy!

Les Wanyika - Nimaru

Les Wanyika - Mama Watoto

Les Wanyika - Mumu Wangu Waniteza

Les Wanyika - Shemeji Agnes

Download Nimaru as a zipped file here.


Monday, April 30, 2018

Let's Dance Kibushi!



Orchestre Les Hi-Fives, originators of the popular Kibushi sound, were one of many Congolese dance bands who, fleeing political turmoil, made their way east to Tanzania and Kenya. They were founded as Bana Kibushi Batano by Vicky Numbi in Lubumbashi, Congo. In 1965 they moved to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, and two years later to Mombasa to join the burgeoning Congolese exile music scene in Kenya. Here, like much of this cohort, they became as much a "Kenyan" group as a Congolese one.

Various problems, notably with residency permits, forced the band to break up some time in the late '70s or early '80s, and the members scattered to the four winds. Many years ago my friend Kenneth Chitika loaned me this album, Wanawachezea Mfululizo wa Kibushi (Philips PKLP 105, 1972), and I dubbed it to a 10" tape reel. Ten years ago I digitally ripped this in turn, and here it is! I got the sleeve and label art from Discogs, which was also the source for some of the information in this post.



Download Wanawachezea Mfululizo wa Kibushi as a zipped file here.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Wanyika Memories



The Tanzanian-turned-Kenyan orchestra Simba Wanyika gave rise to a multitude of offshoots, and offshoots of offshots, over its 25-year history - Orchestra Jobiso, Super Wanyika Stars, MAS System, the Mavalo Stars and so forth. It's all documented in a discography I compiled, along with Doug Paterson and Peter Toll, some years back.

None of these, though, have had the impact of the biggest splinter group of them all, Orchestra Les Wanyika, founded in 1978 by Simba Wanyika rhythm guitarist Omar Shabani and several other members, who were joined by John Ngereza and Issa Juma. A couple of smash hits ("Paulina" and "Sina Makossa") later and Issa Juma too had flown the coop to form his own band, variosly called Waanyika, Super Wanyika and Wanyika Stars.

Never mind. That was just a speed bump for Les Wanyika, who notched a plethora of hits over the next decade, including "Dunia Ki-Geu Geu," "Mbaya Wako Rafiki Yako" and "Naogopa," culminating with today's offering, the 1988 LP Nilipi la Ajabu (Polydor POLP 582), featuring one of their most popular tunes, "Afro."

Nilipi la Ajabu was followed shortly by Nimaru (Polydor POLP 598, 1989), which I will also be posting here soon, and several other albums including Amigo (Clifford Lugard Productions CLP 001, 1997) a collection of re-recorded versions of their hits that is Les Wanyika's only record to get widespread distribution outside of Africa.

Sadly, Omar Shabani died in 1997, and his longtime colleague John Ngereza passed in 2002, but their legacy is eteral through recordings like Nilipi la Ajabu. Enjoy!





Download Nilipi la Ajabu as a zipped file here.


Monday, March 19, 2018

Welcome to Maroon!



Mwakaribishwa na Maroon! That's Swahili for "Welcome to Maroon." It's also the title of today's featured recording (Polydor POLP 600, 1989) by Kenya's legendary Maroon Commandos. The Maroons have been around since 1970, founded by Habel Kifoto (that's him on the left above) as the offficial band of the 7th Kenya Rifles of the Kenyan Army, based in Langata Barracks, Nairobi. 

The Maroons' modest goal in the beginning was to tour the country entertaining homesick troops, but it wasn't long before their infectious blend of rumba, benga and traditional music caught on with the general public. Their first hit was "Emily" in 1971, and then an unfortunate traffic accident in 1972, which killed one member, sidelined the group for several years until they came roaring back in 1977 with "Charonyi ni Wasi," which is included on the collection Kenya Dance Mania (Sterns/Earthworks STEW24CD, 1991). Written by Kifoto in his native Taita language, it is a sad melody of nostalgia and hard times in the big city. I shared another great song by the group, "Liloba," in an earlier post. That one, by the way, featured the vocals of Laban Ochuka, who later founded the Ulinzi Orchestra, the subject of a future post.

About a recent performance, Daniel Wesangula wrote in the Daily Nation newspaper:

Three nights a week 20 Kenyan soldiers take a break from the rigorous routine that defines their military life from sunrise to sunset. On these nights they let another side of their personalities take over as they mingle with civilians through music. Hands trained to hold weapons hold guitars, trumpets, drumsticks and microphones. Feet accustomed to marching in formation and jumping in and out of trenches tap lightly, keeping beat to the music. 
Voices conditioned to bark out orders in military drills croon words that have entertained generations. And the faces that seldom crack the faintest of smiles soften and become warm. During the two hours on stage there are no ranks, no obligatory salutes. During this rehearsal, united by their common love of music, they are all equal.
After a ten-year recording hiatus, the Maroon Commandos returned to the scene in 2007 with a new album, Shika Kamba, and have continued to entertain East Africans up until the present. I was saddened to learn while researching this post, though, that Habel Kifoto passed away in 2011. He had retired from the Army in 2009, passing on leadership of the band to Diwani Nzaro and subesquently Sgt. David Kombo. Kifoto remained active in music, however, and is said to have recorded a new album just before his death.

Enjoy Mwakaribishwa na Maroon!





Download Mwakribishwa na Maroon as a zipped file here.


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Coastal Sounds From Kenya



I think the Pressmen Band, described as "teen sensations" in their heyday, are still extant and catering to the tourist trade around Mombasa, Kenya. Today's offering by them, Dash-Dash (CBS (N) 034), is from the late '80s and features the chakacha coastal sound that they helped to popularize along with  bands like Them Mushrooms and the Mombasa Roots Band, who were featured in an earlier post.

The opening tune, "Musenangu," was a big hit for the Pressmen. It's in the Chonyi language and is about two lovers who are parting ways. Although this sort of music isn't exactly my favorite, there's no denying its popularity, not only among tourists but among Kenyans of all walks of life. Enjoy!




Thanks to the commenter "Sashahon" on YouTube for transcribing and translating the lyrics to "Kadogo":

We kadogo nakupenda
Nikuone uwe wangu
Na mimi sina mwingine
Nimpendaye kama wewe
Usingizi siupati, Nikifiki ulivyo
Fanya hima tuonane, tuelewane pamoja
We kadogo..
Waniacha mi naponda, kwa kufikiri wewe
Moyo wangu wateseka, vile nakupenda you
We kadogo.. 
 
Kadogo I love you
I want to marry you so you'll be mine
I don't want anyone else
That I love as I love you
I can''t sleep thinking about you
Try we meet so we come to agreement
We Kadogo...
I yearn for you in my thoughts
My soul suffers for loving you
We Kadogo...



Download Dash-Dash 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.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Let Us Dance Sikinde!



Here's another in Likembe's continuing series of releases by Tanzania's legendary DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra, this one a little-heard LP from 1989, Dua La Kuku (Polydor POLP 589). I can't say too much about this one - contrary to the photos on the album sleeve, it seems to feature a stripped-down lineup for the band, at least their sikinde sound isn't as "beefy" as usual. It's fine music nonetheless. Tucheze sikinde! "Let us dance sikinde!"

DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra - Dua La Kuku

DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra - Nakubali Nimekosa

DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra - Heko Rais Moi

DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra - Ukombozi Wa Afrika

Download Dua La Kuku as a zipped file here.


Friday, August 25, 2017

Lions of the Jungle



Now, this is an album I've been wanting to post for a long time!

Orchestra Simba Wanyika (Swahili for "Lion of the Jungle") was founded by the brothers Wilson Peter Kinyonga and George Peter Kinyonga of Tanzania, who joined the popular Jamhuri Jazz Band in 1966, where they served four years before leaving in 1971 to form the Arusha Jazz Band. A move to Mombasa, Kenya and a name change and in 1973 Simba Wanyika was born! They were to play a crucial role in the East African music scene for more that twenty years, giving rise, directly and indirectly to a plethora of other groups: Les Wanyika, Wanyika Stars, Orchestra Jobiso and many others. For more information about Simba Wanyika and its offshoots, go to the discography I authored with Doug Paterson and Peter Toll some years ago.

Haleluya (Polydor POLP 552, 1985) marks the high tide of Simba Wanyika's influence and creativity, following a flock of hit songs and right at the moment cassette tape piracy began to cripple the East African music scene. The band would go on to tour in Europe in 1989 and internationally in 1991, when they recorded their only world-wide release, Pepea (Kameleon KMLN 01, 1992). Sadly, George Peter Kinyonga passed away on Christmas Eve 1992 after a brief illness, and Wilson followed him in 1995. Although there was at least one recording made under the "Simba Wanyika" tag without the brothers, the band dissolved shortly after.

Enjoy Haleluya!

Orchestra Simba Wanyika - Haleluya

Orchestra Simba Wanyika - Mama Nyange

Orchestra Simba Wanyika - Mapenzi Yaniua

Orchestra Simba Wanyika - Baba na Mama



Download Haleluya as a zipped file here.

And, as an extra special bonus, here's Simba Wanyika's hit 1983 single, "Shillingi"(Polydor POL 543):

Orchestra Simba Wanyika - Shillingi


Saturday, January 5, 2013

More Memories of Maneti



A couple of years ago I posted some memorable Muziki wa Dansi, a tribute by Tanzania's Orchestra Vijana Jazz to their departed lead singer Hayati Hemed Maneti. Hayati Maneti (Last Recording) (Ahadi/Flatim AHD (MC) 6018) is another outing dedicated to the great vocalist. The usual caveats regarding recording quality apply:

Orchestra Vijana Jazz - Witi Zangu Mnaninyanyasa

Orchestra Vijana Jazz - Ngapulila No. 2

Orchestra Vijana Jazz - Imani za Uchawi

Orchestra Vijana Jazz - Nyongise (Kihehe)

Orchestra Vijana Jazz - Heshima ya Mtu

Orchestra Vijana Jazz - Siri ya Ndani

Download Hayati Maneti (Last Recording) as a zipped file here. Purely by coincidence, when I logged on this morning I saw that Stefan at WorldService has posted the great Vijana LP Mary Maria here. And if you're looking for still more classic Vijana, Sterns Music's The Koka Koka Sex Battalion: Rumba, Koka Koka & Kamata Sukuma - Music From Tanzania 1975-1980 is highly recommended. The picture at the top of this post is entitled "My Village" and is by a Tanzanian artist named Mkumba. Explore more of his work and that of a number of other excellent East African artists here.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

More Mlimani!




What better to liven up a slow Thursday morning than another dose of Muziki wa Dansi, courtesy of Tanzania's DDC Milmani Park Orchestra? The usual caveats apply to this Flatim Records/Ahadi cassette of Sitokubali Kuwa Mtumwa (AHD(MC)6024): Red hot music, lo-fi sound. Enjoy!

DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra - Sitokubali Kuwa Mtumwa

DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra - Ukali wa Nyuki

DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra - Safia

DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra - Naomi

DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra - Epuka Jambo Lisilokuhusu No. 2

DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra - Naomba Tuaminiane

Download Sitokubali Kuwa Mtumwa as a zipped file here. More Mlimani songs are available as streaming audio here.

Monday, June 11, 2012

DDC Mlimani - Nelson Mandela




The subject of many musical accolades over the years, South African liberation fighter (and President from 1994-99) Nelson Mandela receives his due in this cassette (Ahadi/Flatim MSKCAS 512) by Tanzania's immortal DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra. It was released around 1994 but I suspect the material was recorded a few years earlier in the Radio Tanzania studios.

I don't have much to say about this one save that it combines the usual sweet vocals, expert finger-picking and red-hot horns of classic Muziki wa Dansi with the poor recording quality that is the hallmark of most of these Flatim Records releases, usually made from second- and third-generation dubs of the original masters. I am pleased to announce, however (and thanks to Zim Bida for making me aware of it) that a project is underway to digitize and preserve for posterity more than 100,000 hours of recordings like this in the Radio Tanzania archives. You can go to the website of the Tanzania Heritage Project here, listen to some recordings here, and pledge your financial support here. Plans are to release a compilation CD and make a documentary film of the project.

Enjoy Nelson Mandela!

DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra - Nelson Mandela

DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra - Tumetoka Mbali

DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra - Utamaduni

DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra - Kauli Yako Nimeisikia

DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra - Maneno Maneno Ya Nini

DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra - Kupenda Sio Ndoto

Download Nelson Mandela as a zipped file here.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Disco Benga!




Those listening to the album Muungwana (CBS ACP-CBS 1203), by Kenya's Sylvester Odhiambo & the Ambira Boys, may be reminded of the 1973 smash "Lunch Time" and other hit records by Gabriel Omolo & his Apollo Komesha. That's not surprising, as according to the liner notes Mr. Odhiambo sang on many of those recordings.

I have no idea what Mr. Odhiambo is singing about here (no doubt in keeping with Kenyan fashion the lyrics are pithy and ironic), but Muungwana is an infectious example of mid-'80s Swahili benga - propulsive, fast-moving, the synthesizer giving the music a sophisticated "disco" sheen. Enjoy!






Download Muungwana as a zipped file here. "Lunch Time" and other recordings by Gabriel Omolo & the Apollo Komesha, featuring Sylvester Odhiambo on vocals, may be found on the compilation Kenya Dance Mania (Sterns/Earthworks STEW 24CD), and I posted the flip side of "Lunch Time" here.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Down-Home Sounds of Kakai Kilonzo




Major players in the '70s and '80s music scene in Kenya, Kakai Kilonzo and his band the Kilimambogo Brothers were one of the few benga groups whose popularity crossed tribal lines. It helped that they recorded in Swahili as well as their native Kamba language, but the quality of their musical output no doubt played a major role as well.

Kilonzo's beginnings in life were modest indeed. His daughter Anita Kilonzo writes:


Kakai Kilobzo was born in1954 at Kilimambogo in Machakos district. He attended Primary education at Kilimambogo in 1962 to 1965. He definitely did not finish it because of lack of school fees. Kakai then sought for cheap labour like herding in to help his poor family. These continued for a duration of five years.

In 1970 he was employed in Thika town at farms that dealt with pineapple plantations as a harvester.

While in Thika, Kakai made single stringed guitars which were made of tin, due to his interest in music. He played then during his leisure time in the farms. Through his peanut earnings he managed to by a box guitar. He used to entertain local people at night during his off-time; which is termed as Tumisonge in Kamba.
Kilonzo's talents as a musician soon won him renown. He recorded "Kaylo Kyakwa na Mary" in 1974 and with the Kilimambogo Brothers scored many hits like "Baba Mkwe," "August One" and "Mama Sofia." Many of these recordings are collected in two CDs, Best of Kakai Vol. 1 (Shava Musik SHAVACD011-2, 2002) and Best of Kakai Vol. 2 (Shava Musik SHAVACD017, 2006) and an LP that was released in 1987, Simba Africa (Popular African Music PAM 03). As far as I can tell, these compilations are all out of print.

Well before his time, Kakai Kilonzo passed away in 1987 after a brief illness. His presence in the Kenyan music scene is sorely missed.

Many years ago I dubbed onto 10" tape reels a number of 45s by Kakai Kilonzo and the Kilimambogos, and was recently able to digitize them. None of these are on any of the above-referenced pressings. Except for "Christmas Day," which is in Swahili, these records are all in Kamba. For the most part I have no idea what the lyrics are about, but I presume that they deal with the usual subjects of Kenyan popular music: Family matters, love and harvests. It is benga, the music of Kakai Kilonzo and artists like him, that is the true voice of Kenya's rural majority - blunt and straightforward, real Kenyan "country music."

Here's a recording from the late '70s or early '80s, the A & B sides of Kakai Kilonzo Sound KLZ 7-002:

Kakai Kilonzo & Kilimambogo Brothers Band - Kithetheesyo Ki Muka

Kakai Kilonzo & Kilimambogo Brothers Band - Katuli Lungi

Les Kilimambogo LES 007:

Les Kilimambogo Brothers - Mutwawa Niwatwana

Les Kilimambogo Brothers - Mathitu Mowe

Les Kilimambogo LES 08:

Les Kilimambogo - Ngungu Na Muoi

Les Kilimambogo - Kilinga Munguti


The Kilimambogos celebrate the birth of Christ on Les Kilimambogo LES 16:

Les Kilimambogo - Christmas Day Pts 1 & 2


Hear another Kilimambogo Christmas song here. Here are the A & B sides of Les Kilimambogo LES 17:

Les Kilimambogo - Sera Ndungembeti

Les Kilimambogo - Ngomelelye Kitambaasye

Let's close with the Swahili sounds of the Original Kilimambogo (OKB) Stars. The OKB Stars were formed in 1978 when Joseph Mwania left the Kilimambogo Brothers Band to form his own group. This recording was issued as New Mwania Sound NEW 108:

Joseph Mwania & the Original Kilimambogo (OKB) Stars - Mama Sheria Pts 1 & 2

For more rustic, down-home Kamba sounds, go here. Download the songs in this post as a zipped file here.

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.



Sunday, January 10, 2010

Black Warriors




Ronnie Graham's The World of African Music (Pluto Press/Research Associates, 1992) states that Tanzania's DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra recorded several albums and singles in the early '80s under the name "The Black Warriors." Doug Paterson told me a few years ago, though, that The Black Warriors were actually a subgroup of Mlimani who recorded in Nairobi without permission from bandleader Michael Enoch. For this transgression they were expelled from the group, only to return later.

Whatever the true story, in the early '90s Flatim Records in Nairobi compiled six Black Warriors 45s into a compilation cassette, Tunazikumbuka Vol. 20 (AHD [MC] 038), which I present here. This cassette is compiled from vinyl pressings rather than the original source tapes, and Flatim cassettes are well-known for their dodgy technical standards. The quality of the musical performances shines through nonetheless, and I'm sure you'll enjoy hearing alternate versions of some Mlimani classics.

The Black Warriors - Nawashukuru Wazazi Wangu Pts. 1 & 2


The Black Warriors - Zimbabwe Pts. 1 & 2

The Black Warriors - Bubu Ataka Kusama Pts. 1 & 2

The Black Warriors - Nalala Kwa Tabu Pts. 1 & 2

The Black Warriors - Najuta Pts. 1 & 2


The Black Warriors - Uzuri wa Mtu Sio Sura Pts. 1 & 2

Download Tunazikumbuka Vol. 20 as a zipped file here. The artwork at the top of this post is by Tanzanian artist Mwamedi Chiwaya, and is in a style called Tingatinga. It is taken from this website.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

From Congo to Kenya Pt. 2



As a follow-up to my earlier post From Congo to Kenya Pt. 1, here are some melodies courtesy of the Congolese diaspora in East Africa. Like that post, this one is focused on the early 1980s. In 1985, President Daniel Arap Moi ordered the expulsion of foreign workers, including musicians, from Kenya, and the Congolese/Zairean musical community there scattered to the four winds.

For some time I had wondered who possessed the soulful voice that featured on so many 45s issued during the '80s in Kenya by such disparate groups as the Kenya Blue Stars and Bana Ngenge. Was it the same person? Along comes Alastair Johnston to clear up the puzzle in his article Congolese/Zaïrean Musicians in East Africa. Turns out the mystery voice is Moreno Batamba (nee Batamba Wenda Morris), who was born in Kisangani in 1955 and joined Orchestre Maquis Sasa in 1971. In 1974 he hooked up with Fataki Lokassa and a number of other Congolese exiles in Uganda to form Bana Ngnege, which seems to have undergone a number of permutations and name changes over the years. Although Alastair writes that Bana Ngenge broke up in 1976, a group called Bana Ngenge Stars Popote, featuring Fataki Lokassa, released this record in Kenya (Universal Sounds USD 005) in the early '80s. Moreno is relegated to supporting vocals:

Bana Ngenge Stars Popote - Dunia Imelaniwa Pts. 1 & 2

After serving stints with Orchestra Shika-Shika, Les Noirs (both featured in From Congo to Kenya Pt. 1) and Orchestre Virunga, Moreno started Moja One in Nairobi in 1980 and recorded "Dunia si Yako si Yangu" (CBS/ACP 702) around 1983:

Moreno & Moja One - Dunia si Yako si Yangu Pts. 1 & 2Finally Moreno shows up as part of the pop/disco trio the Kenya Blue Stars, along with Margaret Safari & Sheila (pictured at the top of this post), who recorded this infectious little ditty (CBS/ACP 1201) in 1984:

Kenya Blue Stars - Shufa Pts. 1 & 2

Along with Jimmy Monimambo and Frantal Tabu (about whom more below), one of Moreno's colleagues in Shika-Shika was Lovy Mokolo Longomba, whose high-pitched voice was a perfect counterpoint to Moreno's. His father was Vicky Longomba, a founding member of OK Jazz, and his brother Awilo Longomba, is one of the biggest stars of contemporary Congo music. Lovy moved from Kinshasa to Nairobi in 1978 and joined Les Kinois, a predecessor of Orchestra Virunga. His sojourn there lasted only three months, after which he left for stints with Boma Liwanza and Super Mazembe. While a part of Orchestra Shika-Shika, he also helmed his own band, which recorded under the names Orchestre Super Lovy and Bana Likasi. Sadly, Lovy Longomba died in an auto accident in Tanzania in 1996. Here he is on Editions Lovy 01:

Orchestre Super Lovy - Elee Pts. 1 & 2

Frantal Tabu (picture below), like Moreno Batamba, hails from Kisangani, and also played a role in Orchestra Shika-Shika, as well as Boma Liwanza and other bands. He formed Orchestra Vundumuna in 1984, which also featured Ugandan Sammy Kasule on vocals. Here is a recording Frantal Tabu made with Orchestre Malekesa du Zaire on the Editions du Hudson label (EDH 01):

Frantal Tabu & Orchestre Malekesa du Zaire - Asali Pts. 1 & 2




Finally, here are a couple of sides in the style made famous by Verckys & Orchestre Veve, from a group I know nothing about. I don't know for sure that Python Mas's group Zaire Success was based in East Africa, although the name gives a clue (groups that were actually based in Congo/Zaire didn't usually include "Zaire" in the name), and this 45 (sides A & B of Africa AFR 7-36) was pressed in Kenya:

Python Mas & Orchestre Zaire Success - Sofia Motema

Python Mas & Orchestre Zaire Success - Mado

For more about these artists and many more I refer you once again to Alastair Johnston's essential article
Congolese/Zaïrean Musicians in East Africa.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Kasule




Ugandan singer/guitarist Sammy Kasule is present on many Kenyan recordings made during the 1980s. He was a member of Frantal Tabu's Orchestra Vundumuna, and as part of another group, Africa Jambo Jambo, was recruited to fill in as part of Orchestra Simba Wanyika during their 1989 European tour.

The 1984 solo LP Kasule (CBS (N) 014) was a smash, spawning three hits, "Kukupenda (Kuusudu)," "Ushirikiano" and Kasule's English-language version of Nguashi Ntimbo's "Shauri Yako," which I featured in my last post. Kasule's translation in turn formed the basis for Mbilia Bel's version of the song.

I understand Sammy Kasule is presently living in Stockholm.

Here are the complete contents of Kasule:

Sammy Kasule - Pesa Kuja

Sammy Kasule - Zongolo

Sammy Kasule - Shauri Yako

Sammy Kasule - Kukupenda (Kuusudu)

Sammy Kasule - Ushirikiano

And here are two singles that Kasule recorded around the same time that Kasule came out. "Numevumila" was on the Doromy label (DM 41), while "Niliota Ndoto" was issued on the VGA Editions Scolar label (VGA 008):

Sammy Kasule & Orchestra Samajako International - Numevumila Pts 1 & 2

Sammy Kasule & Ochila Odero - Niliota Ndoto Pts 1 & 2

Note: Tracks from the LP Kasule are no longer available for download. The album may be purchased online here.



Sunday, July 19, 2009

From Congo to Kenya Pt. 1



Have you seen Alastair Johnston's website Muzikifan? It's a must-go-to destination for anyone who's interested in African music or World Music™ in general. Alastair recently published A Discography of Docteur Nico (Poltroon Press, 2009), which is an outgrowth of the site. I haven't seen it yet, but it's an obvious labor of love, and a must-have for any African music fan. You can get it through the site. As of yet there doesn't seem to be any distribution through Amazon or Sterns, but hopefully there soon will be.

But that's not what this post is about. Some time ago, Alistair began a comprehensive study/discography of Congolese/Zaïrean musicians in East Africa, which over the years has grown into an impressive body of work. It turns out I have a fair number of tracks by some of these musicians, so I thought it would be worthwhile to give them a spin.

Political and economic turmoil sent Congolese/Zaïrean musicians east to Tanzania and Kenya beginning in the '60s, and the '70s through the mid '80s were the "Golden Age" of expatriate musicians in East Africa (in 1985 President Daniel Arap Moi of Kenya ordered the expulsion of foreign workers, including musicians). The well-known Samba Mapangala of Malako Disco fame is part of this generation, as are Mose "Fan Fan" Se Sengo and Remmy Ongala.

Probably the most influential of these artists was Baba Gaston (1936-1997), whose picture is at the top of this post, and who ended up in Dar-es-Salaam
with his Orchestre Baba Nationale in 1971, moving to Nairobi four years later. Gaston's various orchestras comprised a veritable university of East African music owing to the numerous musicians who passed through before going on to join or establish other outfits, among them Les Mangalepa.

Here are some 45s from Gaston's career in East Africa. I suspect the first two tracks (from ASL ASL 7-1520) are from 1973 or thereabout, while "Kalai" (Yahoos YS 001) is probably from the early '80s:

Baba Nationale - Zala Reconnassant Fa Fan

Baba Nationale - F.C. Lupopo Bana Ya Tembe

Baba Gaston & Orchestre Tchondo National - Kalai Pts 1 & 2

You can download Baba Gaston's wonderful LP Condition Bi-Msum (ASL ASL 971) from Worldservice here.

Jimmy Monimambo, who features in "Amba," was one of three outstanding vocalists in Orchestra Shika-Shika, the others being Moreno Batamba and Vicky "Lovy" Longomba, who will be discussed in a future post. "Amba" (Daraja DJ 005) was one of the group's major hits:

Jimmy Monimambo & Orchestra Shika-Shika - Amba

"Shauri Yako" is a song that is well-known to many Likembe reader/listeners thanks to the version by Orchestre Super Mazembe, but it was written by Nguashi Ntimbo, a veteran of Baba Nationale for many years before starting his Orchestre Festivale du Zaire and later working for Franco's TPOK Jazz. In addition to Super Mazembe, "Shauri Yako" was recorded by Ugandan singer Sammy Kasule and Mbilia Bel, but Festival du Zaire's version (ASL ASL 3393) is arguably the best. You may have heard this one before as it's been on a couple of other blogs, but another go-round won't hurt you:

Orchestre Festival du Zaïre - Shauri Yako

"Madya" (ASL ASL 7-3351) was apparently recorded a year or two before "Shauri Yako":

Orchestre Festival du Zaïre - Madya


It's interesting how, once Congo musicians moved to East Africa, their sound opened up and became more rhythmically free and experimental. To get what I'm talking about, listen to the guitar and horn work in the next two tracks (ASL ASL 7-1145) by Les Noirs/City Five. Alastair doesn't say much about the origins of Les Noirs, but they seem to have been one of those groups that everyone was a member of at one point or another:

Les Noirs/City Five - Mungo Iko Helena

Les Noirs/City Five - Lwaki Oyomba Awatali Nsoka
Alastair Johnston's article "Congolese Bands in East Africa" was of inestimable help in preparing this post, and should be consulted for more information about these artists. I'll be discussing more Congo musicians in East Africa in a future post.