Category Archives: Africa

Death of the Atomic Bomb: William Onyeabor

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All pop stars are, to a certain degree, enigmas. As fans we think we know them. We digest their lyrics and read interviews but mostly we create an image of them in our minds. We become convinced they are like us. And hopefully, even like us.

 

For their part, pop stars spend time and money trying to avoid being known too much. Bob Dylan is famous for spreading tall tales about his musical antecedents and early years. He’s on record claiming to be in places at times when it is patently clear he was not. So frustrating were his contradictory and mysterious statements about himself that a short-lived sub-discipline of sociology sprang up in the early 1970s: Dylanology. Led by an obsessed fan named A.J. Weberman, who today would be arrested for stalking, Dylanologists’ main method was to pick through the discarded rubbish of the singer’s household in search of clues of his life.

 

Yesterday, William Onyeabor, a Nigerian keyboardist and electronic music pioneer, passed away, leaving a whole slew of question marks for his fans to contemplate. There has been no musician more mysterious in recent years than the cowboy hat white suit wearing Chieftain from West Africa. The Guardian’s survey of his discovery (by Western fans) and the unanswered questions that he carried with him to his grave is an excellent read.

 

The 2013 Luaka Bop album, referenced by the Guardian is shared here today. This is 73 minutes of some of the most improbable African music you’re ever likely to hear. Electronic swirls and squelches interspersed with the dense beat of simulated drums. This is music that sounds more at home in England during the New Wave/No Wave era of the early 1980s than in the land that gave the world High Life and Afrobeat. There is none of the urgency, playfulness or raw sexuality of Fela or E.T Mensah or Geraldo Pino in Onyeabor.

 

And perhaps that is willful. One of the few things we seem to know about him is that he nurtured a strong personal faith in Jesus. And lived a life of moral rectitude and purity.   Natural then, that his music would mirror the same emotions.

 

This is not to say this is fluff or mere exotica. Atomic Bomb is the standout track in this collection. It builds and pulses with real energy and creative thinking. Love as A Bomb! Love is Blind and Body and Soul are also carnally focused. Both tunes develop a strong groove that keeps the ears and mind engaged.

 

There is one other West African electronic album from this era, African Electronic Music 1975-1982, by the Cameroonian poly-artist Francis Bebey that acts as a sort of cultural counterpart to this album. Bebey’s life story is fairly well known and his album (one of more than 20 released in his lifetime) has a more deliberate, experimental quality to it.

 

Onyeabor’s work, by contrast, seems to be more organic and heartfelt. The grooves are long, elaborate and hang together as individual tracks nicely. Bebey’s album on the other hand is a collection of diverse sounding songs that seem strung together like individual gaudy beads.

 

In any case, this is very interesting music, made by a mysterian of the first order. Rest in Peace dear William. Whoever you are.

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Track Listing:

01 Body and Soul

02 Atomic Bomb

03 Good Name

04 Something You’ll Never Forget

05 Why Go to War?

06 Love is Blind

07 Heaven and Hell

08 Let’s Fall in Love

09 Fantastic Man

William

Breakthrough Afrika Mixtape

breakthrough afrika

Track Listing v.1

01 Minuit [Fagaru Evolution]

02 Muxima [Os Keizos]

03 Amasco dima no [Rochereau and African Fiesta]

04 Aura moreno[ Tabu Ley Rochereau]

05 Bowao [Tiers Monde]

06 Bholen Mwana [Orchestre Negro Succes]

07 Bahole Njalo [Mahlathini]

08 Camarada Kill Bill [Paulo Flores]

09 Belga [Cesaria Evora]

10 Tezeta [Getatchew Mekurya]

11 Zunkuluke [Quatre Etoiles]

12 Saudades De Luanda [Os Keizos]

13 Tika Nasakola [Sam Mangwana]

14 K’an Ben [Taj Mahal and Toumani Diabate]

15 Makono [Lobi Traore]

16 Wariko [Amadou Balake]

 

V1.

Track Listing v.2

17 Petit Sekou [Bembeya Jazz National]

18 Testament Ya Bowule [Simaro Massiya Lutumba]

19 Rhumba [The Cold Storage Band]

20 Breakthrough [The Funkees]

21 Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu [Brenda Fassie]

22 The More I See You [The Invaders]

23 Mke wa kwanza [Orcestre Simba Wanyki]

24 Awé Ho Mè [Orchestre Black Santiago]

25 Retany [Tarika]

26 Mi Guajeo [Orchestre N’guewel]

27 Almokerkum Neber [Hiru Begele]

28 Marie Lou [Tabu Ley]

29 Mr. Bull Dog (45 Version) [The MEbusas]

30 Tar Hani (My Love) [Bombino]

31 Kôté Don [Rokia Traore]

32 O Mang [Hi Hop Pantsula]

V2.

Cranky Genius: Docteur Nico

Docteur Nico

Docteur Nico

A short thin man, Nicholas Kasanda wa Mikalay, died in 1985 at the age of 44 in the central African country, Zaire (now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo). In his short and intense life, Dr. Nico, as he was known to his millions of African fans, released hundred of singles, played for Presidents, led (very poorly) his own bands and founded record labels. Quite simply he is regarded as one of the most influential guitar players ever to emerge from Africa, introducing a crystalline tone which was often compared to an electronic keyboard, as well as the sounds of the Hawaiian slide guitar to Congolese music. His late 1960’s band African Fiesta Susika in which he led a three guitar attack has been called ‘the finest guitar threesome ever to grace the company of a single band, anywhere’.

Although he was a musical genius, Docteur Nico was a poor businessman. Though he was able to attract great talents to his band, they never seemed to stay very long, citing, ‘Nico’s poor treatment’ and arrogance. Despite this, at his height (1960’s-mid-70s’) Dr Nico toured extensively all across the African continent, pulling huge adoring crowds at every stop. In the constellation of modern Congolese musicians he is considered one of the holy trinity along with Rochereau and Franco.

Herewith is a simply delightful collection of Dr. Nico compositions from the mid-70s that perfectly sums up his guitar playing style. Full of wonderful, melodious and intricate picking, Hawaiian twang and even a few English language rockers, this is a ‘must have’ album.

Enjoy very much. Very often. Very loud.

& l'Orchestre African Fiesta

Track Listing:

01 Sanza zomi na mibale

02 Angele ozali wapi

03 Canshita

04 Marie Nella

05 Save me

06 Zadio

07 Nalingi yo na motema

08 Nazali bloko te

09 Suavilo

10 Sookie

Docteur is in.

Off the Leash: African Mixtape

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 Have a nice weekend folks. To get you on your way is a little gift from the Washerman’s Dog studios!

Track Listing:

01 Na boyi danbinzi [Orchestre Mando Negro]

02 Onyame [Ashanti Afrika Jah]

03 Sogodounou [Nahawa Doumbia]

04 1er Gaou [Magic System]

05 Kyrie eleison [Orchestre Hi-Fives]

06 Ting’ Badi Malo [Gidigidi Majimaji]

07 Tweta [Mombasa Party and Zuhura Swaleh]

08 Black Egypt -Intro [Bukky Leo and Black Egypt]

09 Din Ya Sugri [Christy Azume and Uppers International]

10 Revolution [Sonny Okosun]

11 Gidelam [Baaba Maal]

12 Tollon Tollon [Afro National]

13 Ichibanda [Oliya Band]

14 Mosquito [Flaming Souls]

15 Despedida [Dimba Diangola]

16 Afro Funk [Afro Funk]

17 Elef Pan You [Afro National]

18 Marceline [Franco et le TP Ok Jazz]

19 Le Jour d’Après _ Siku Ya Baadaye (Indépendance Cha-Cha) [Baloji]

20 Heaven and Hell [William Onyeabor]

21 Mandalena Mazabuka [Smokey Haangala]

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Congo’s first Guitar God: Henri Bowane

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This a bonzer record.

Henri Bowane was a founding father of that strain of African music that has now become a heritage of the entire music loving world, soukous. He was a guitarist who played with Wendo Kolosy one of the early proponents and creators of Congolese rumba which later morphed, in the riverside and dark alley clubs of Kinshasa and Brazzaville, into the soukous.

Indeed, so influential was Bowane that we should recall a few of his many accomplishments.

1)He was arguably the first guitar god of Congo, playing long free-twirling lines that came to be known as sebene (seven) in reference to the 7th chord. Discos and dance parties where Bowane played would be interrupted mid-solo by shouts of “Sebene! Sebene!”

2) He was Franco’s first boss and mentor, again arguably, being labeled the man who ‘discovered’ Congo’s greatest guitar player.

3) He owned Kinshasa’s first Cadillac.

Not a bad resume if you ask me.

In the mid-70’s he recorded his sole solo album, which is what he share tonight. What a snorter. What a ripper. What a joy. Rumba, soukous and even an English language mid-60’s heavy garage grinder, are the delights you’ll discover here.

Go forth and listen. (Be prepared to grin!)

Double Take -Tala Kaka

Track Listing

01 Sam Ba No

02 Cherie Natou

03 Natali Nato

04 Fou-Nous-La-Paix

05 Monoko Ya Mboka

06 Marie Louise

07 Wabon’kum Blues

H…B.

Towards the Forbidden City: Super Guitar Soukous

soukous

Strike while the iron is hot. Make hay while the sun shines. Post while you can for in Beijing all this stuff is banned.

Yes for the next week or so I will in the Forbidden City which is not named that for no good reason. Last time I was there nearly every website I’d made friends with over the years was unavailable. Certainly no Facebook, YouTube, WordPress, Blogspot

I will be otherwise preoccupied of course with official business, side meetings, drafting committees and the like, so it is probably a good thing that I will not be detracted.

So before I take that long flight I thought you all might like to groove to some wonderful bubbly soukous. An old favorite, this is a collection I picked in the deserted steet stalls in Bali about 3 days after the terrible 2002 bombings that left so many dead as they partied.   Grim way to introduce what is an addictive unavoidably intoxicating dance record of sparkling lilting moving music from Central Africa. Kanda Bongo Man opens with a rip-snorter tune that demonstrates the ‘new wave’ of soukous made so popular by him and other speed fanatics like Loketo a couple decades back. Over the next few tracks we glide safely to a more reasonable pace over several different styles of this guitar-driven dance music. And while there are some shining stars like the aforementioned Bongo Man and Empire Bakuba, really, this is music made by artists not widely known outside of Africa.

Whatever you’re doing today or this weekend, I’ve no doubt you’ll get some great company from this record. Many years from now you’ll find that you can’t get some of these tunes out of your head and you will remember the very day this wonderful disc came into your life!

Adios till next time!

Super Guitar Soukous

Track Listing:

01 Sana [Kanda Bongo Man]

02 Africa [Dave Depeu]

03 Sango ya Mawa [Patience Dabany]

04 Mukaji Wani [Dindo Yogo]

05 Guelo [Guetan System]

06 Pas Moi [Joyce Delly]

07 N’Nanele [Zoukunion]

08 Gueda Guina [Olive’s Gueda]

09 Mosolo Na Ngai [General Defao]

10 Soso ya Tongo [Empire Bakuba and Pepe Kalle]

11 Makoule [Seliko]

S   G   S

Happy Anniversary Part 6: Jazz and Related Sounds

BigJazzNight

And so we now come to a tri-partite celebration of jazz sounds as part of the ongoing commemoration of the Washerman’s Dog achieving the milestone of 700 posts (way back a couple of months ago). Thank you again to all visitors, regulars and encouragers along the way, its been a blast and I don’t’ see any reason to cease and desist any time soon.

 

Volume one is entitled Blue Vindaloo. Straight ahead jazz mixed with a fair number of Asian and Asian-inspired tracks by jazz artists from Afghanistan to Japan. Check out the Afghan Jazz Unit’s tremendous Spinboldak Saxophony.

Title track from the Pakistani-American uber guitarist Rez Abbasi.

 

Volume two is titled Afro Jazz and indeed here you will find much jazz from the Continent, as well as soukous, pop and other African delights.  Highlights this time are from Angola!  Title track comes via the mighty Madilu of DRC.

 

Volume three, Blow Baby, Blow is dedicated to outstanding brass, woodwind and brass band jazz. Sax, trumpet, tuba and trombone. Greats and unknowns.  Hope you enjoy.

blue vindaloo

Track Listing (Vol. 1):

01 Time Is Right Dr. L Subramaniam]

02 Beauty Of The Flower [Christoph Stiefel and Lissette Spinnler]

03 Elveen [Wynton Marsalis]

04 Spinboldak Saxophony [Afghan Jazz Unit]

05 Ranglypso [Ernest Ranglin]

06 Painted Paradise [Jiro Inagaki and Soul Media]

07 Fat Mouth [Weldon Irvine]

08 Yes, Sir That’s My Baby [Nat King Cole]

09 Abbaji (For Alla Rakha) [John McLaughlin]

10 Hub-Tones [Freddie Hubbard]

11 Eastern Dawn [Amancio D’Souza]

12 Sueño de Amor (Chachachá) [feat. Cachao] [Bonus Track] Generoso Jimenez]

13 Fried Pies (Take 1) [Wes Montgomery]

14 Tempo De Amor [Baden Powell and Vinicius de Moraes]

15 What a Little Moonlight Can Do [Billie Holiday]

16 Harlem On Saturday Night [Lil Hardin Armstrong and Her Orchestra]

17 Benson’s Rider [George Benson]

18 The Best Is Yet To Come [Mr. President]

19 Nuit sur les Champs-Elysees(1) [Miles Davis]

20 Awaara Hoon [Sunny Jain Collective]

21 Sina Nari [Hüsnü Şenlendirici]

22 Tanzania [Sadao Watanabe]

23 Summertime [Ahmed Abdul Malik]

24 Garuda [Raga Bop Trio]

25 The Look Of Love [Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66]

26 Quaze Caindo [Ricardo Herz Trio]

27 The Lewinsky March. [Rabih Abou-Khalil]

28 Ma’am A’rif Leh (Gingele) [Salma]

29 Blu Vindaloo [Rez Abbasi]

30 Raga Piloo [Joe Harriot & John Mayer]

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beau souvenir

Track Listing (Vol. 2)

01 Johannesburg Hi-Lite Jive [Hugh Masakela]

02 Margret Odero [D.O. Misiani & Shirati Jazz]

03 Muasi Oweli Bela [bolero] [Vicky et l’OK Jazz]

04 Bolingo Ekomisi Ngai Liboma [L’orchestre Zembe Zembe]

05 Kulekule [Konono No.1 De Mingiedi]

06 La Bycicletta [Keletigui et Ses Tambourines]

07 Avante Juventude [Os Anjos]

08 Whiskey et Coca-Cola [Amadou Balake]

09 Black Egypt -Intro [Bukky Leo and Black Egypt]

10 Soweto Blues [Mariam Makeba]

11 Awa Awa [Wes]

12 Koki (Hot Koki) [Andre Marie Tala]

13 Tweta [Mombasa Party and Zuhura Swaleh]

14 Injuria [Jose ‘Zeca’ Neves]

15 Hymn for the War Orphans [Zimology]

16 Na boyi danbinzi [Orchestre Mando Negro]

17 Onyame [Ashanti Afrika Jah]

18 Sogodounou [Nahawa Doumbia]

19 1er Gaou (Ivory Coast) [Magic System]

20 Kyrie eleison [Orcestre Hi Fives]

21 Ting’ Badi Malo [Gidigidi Majimaji]

22 Din Ya Sugri [Christy Azuma & Uppers International]

23 Gidelam [Baaba Maal]

24 Tollon Tollon [Afro National]

25 Ichibanda [Oliya Band]

26 Revolution [Sonny Okosun]

27 Mosquito [Flaming Souls]

28 Beau Souvenir [Madilu System]

29 Black Woman Experience [Geraldo Pino]

30 Despedida [Dimba Diangola]

###

Blow Baby Blow

Track Listing: (Vol. 3)

01 Blue Light [Ben Webster]

02 Black Man’s Cry [Fela Kuti with Afrika 70 and Ginger Baker]

03 Zomaye [Gigi]

04 Minnie the Moocher [Big Bad Voodoo Daddy]

05 Skalloween [Skatalites]

06 From Boogie to Funk part 1_ The Blues [Bill Coleman]

07 Don’t Take Your Love From Me [Frank Rosolino Quintet]

08 See-F [Ceasar Frazier]

09 Instant Groove [King Curtis]

10 Time Is Running Out Fast [James Brown]

11 Satan’s Blues [Don Bryon]

12 i want a little girl [Big Joe Turner]

13 John McLaughlin [Miles Davis]

14 Misterioso [Sonny Rollins]

15 Sida Gangbe Brass Band]

16 The Lonely Bull (El Solo Toro) [Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass]

17 Balkan Reggae [Mahala Rai Banda]

18 Qonqoza [Dudu Phukwana]

19 Got No Money [Dusko Gojkovic]

20 Crazy Mixed Up World [Little Walter]

21 Ad Lib Blues [Lester Young]

22 Need You (right now) [Trumpet Thing]

23 Kuenda Namwendo [The Umtali Chipisa Band]

24 Blues for Harvey [Johnny Griffin]

25 Celestial Bliss [Rahsaan Roland Kirk]

26 Frantic Activity [Rhythm Funk Masters]

27 Struttin’ With Some Barbecue [Louis Armstrong]

28 Asaw Fofor [Melody Aces]

29 African Battle Manu Dibango]

30 How Deep Is the Ocean [John Coltrane]

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