Category Archives: Europe

Surf’s Up Comrades: Voodoo Surf (Fresh Links)


Here I am in Australia for a brief interlude with family once again. What a joy!

And somehow, whenever one finds oneself in this country, the mind turns to surfing (and any number of other outdoor sports) which is one of the true religions the people of these regions adhere to. Not that I partake in the sport. I don’t. I am a new (ish) immigrant and sports, whether water based or any other are something I prefer to watch rather than participate in. Yet there is something genuinely uplifting about seeing people on boards navigating themselves between and over and under waves in the middle of a deep blue sea.

Surfing music is a form that has a very loyal (not to say, fanatic) following. I thought it was no longer en vouge until some years ago a taxi driver in Sydney raved for the entire ride about his passion for this guitar driven instrumental music. Not really rock n roll but not really any other genre, surf music has secured its own unique niche. And if the taxi driver was to be believed, it was still being churned out by contemporary bands in Australia and elsewhere.

I recently posted something on The Ventures which comes pretty close to surf-like music. I do rather enjoy the crisp picking of an Stratocaster and the snap of a tight drum head but still surf music was a bit ‘outre’ for my tastes, so I thought. My mind jumps to the Beach Boys (never big heroes in my book) and long forgotten acts like Jan and Dean. Dick Dale is a cult hero but not really mainstream.

So I had little to say to the Sydney cab driver except nod and say I’d check ‘it out’.

Well I have done a bit of checking in recent days and I must say I do like surf music. Or at least surf music as interpreted by Ukrainian, Russian and other former Iron Curtain country bands. Yes, you read that right. Eastern Bloc surf music. I’ve heard many things about the Ural Sea and Aral Sea too. And of course the Black Sea and Arctic Ocean are all part of the former Russian empire. But I have never come across a surfing scene in any of these bodies of water. Be that as it may, there is a strong contingent of musicians who love the sounds of Mr Dale and other Californian surf bands from the 1950s and 60s.

So while I don’t make any claims that this is authentic surf music (hence the name of the album, Voodoo Surf) I do commend it to you as very enjoyable instrumental music that sounds as if it could have been made in the garages of Alhambra, Santa Clara and Pasadena in the years before the hippies took over the discourse and ruined it all. And that this was made in darkest (and coldest) Minsk, Moscow and Kiev is all the more reason to say, ‘Far out!’

Every track here is infectious and entertaining. Though they all are of a piece they are also every one of them distinct and different. Some channel the Texas blues while others seem to have hired Max Weinberg of the E Street Band to play drums. They lift riffs from cowboy movies (or riffs that should be in cowboy movies) and conjure 1964 perfectly. Not a vocalising sound is heard anywhere on this record (except for some cryptic dark barking and French whispers here and there).

If you want something different and fun to shine in your day…then give this little record a spin. My favourite? 36-24-36! Play it often. Play if loud!

Surf’s Up!

Voodoo Surf

Track Listing:

01 Surf Melody

02 Vaquero-San

03 French

04 Psychos

05 Immersion

06 Picked Legs

07 Tainted Love

08 Keep Breathin’

09 Sharks

10 Man With The Scar

11 Godzilla’s Dream

12 Bustin’ Chainsaws

13 Ñâåòèò ìåñÿö

14 Signal From Tremoluna Planet

15 36-24-36

16 Lightning Rod

17 Das Boot

18 Breakers

19 Mikkie Goes To School

20 Suffer

21 Neptune

22 Messing with Motor Chick

23 Ghost Theme

24 Õî›îâîä

25 Midnight Preacher


Stiff Devil: Graham Parker

butterfly girl

I was never a huge fan of punk rock. But some of the bands and artists of the so called “New Wave” were interesting (and listenable, to my admittedly naïve, ears) among them being Graham Parker. Though I wouldn’t classify myself as a hard core fan of the man, I’ve always liked his voice which has the same ‘shouter’ capacity as say, Delbert McClinton. Yes, very different artists from different continents but in their own contexts, they came out of a similar milieu: the public bar. Sure, it was called a honky tonk in the southern USA where McClinton got his start. In the UK it is called the pub. But in both instances, the lead singer of any band had to have a voice that would not just carry over the din of smashing billiard balls, fighting patrons and a competing jukebox and TV, but also grab the attention of the hall. Graham Parker was probably the best pub band singer of his time (mid 1970s- late 1980s) and his voice certainly commanded attention.

I picked up this album at some record shop in the UK many many moons back. It  is one of the more obscure compilations in his ouvre,  which is a pity because it is a fine example of the man’s work. Pub rock with ska/reggae inflections tossed in here and there, it captures those heady days when the musical landscape was up for relandscaping and the terms of doing business for renegotiation. (Or so it seemed, as the 70s morphed into the 80s).

Graham Parker (born November 18 1950 in London) is an English rock singer and songwriter.

Graham parker_effectedIn the late 1960s and early 1970s, Graham Parker sang in small-time English bands such as the Black Rockers and Deep Cut Three while working in dead-end jobs like a glove factory and a petrol station. In 1975, he recorded a few demo tracks in London with Dave Robinson, who would shortly found Stiff Records and who connected Parker with his first backing band of note.

Graham Parker and the Rumour (Brinsley Schwarz and Martin Belmont on guitar, Bob Andrews on keyboards, Andrew Bodnar on bass and Steve Goulding on drums) formed in the summer of 1975 and began doing the rounds of the British pub rock scene. Their first album, Howlin’ Wind, was released to acclaim in 1976 and rapidly followed by the stylistically similar Heat Treatment. A mixture of rock, ballads, and reggae-influenced numbers, these albums reflected Parker’s early influences (Motown, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan) and contained the songs which formed the core of Parker’s live shows — “White Honey”, “Soul Shoes”, “Lady Doctor”, “Fool’s Gold”, and his early signature tune “Don’t Ask Me Questions”, which hit the top 40 in the UK. Parker and the Rumour built a reputation as incendiary live performers: the promotional album Live at Marble Arch was recorded at this time and shows off their raw onstage style. Like the pub rock scene he was loosely tied to, the singer’s class-conscious lyrics and passionate vocals signaled a renewal of rock music as punk rock began to flower in Britain.

Parker preceded the other “new wave” English singer-songwriters, Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson. Early in his career his work was often compared favorably to theirs, and for decades journalists would continue to categorize them together, long after the artists’ work had diverged. Characteristically, Parker would not hesitate to criticize this habit with caustic wit.

The first 2 albums’ critical acclaim was generally not matched with LP sales. Graham Parker and the Rumour appeared on BBC television’s Top of the Pops in 1976, performing their top 30 hit version of The Trammps’ “Hold Back the Night”.

At this point, Parker began to change his songwriting style, reflecting his desire to break into the American market. The first fruits of this new direction appeared on Stick To Me (1977). The album broke the top 20 on the UK charts but divided critical opinions, particularly with numbers like “The Heat in Harlem” — the band’s longest song at the time. Nick Lowe’s production also came under fire: some critics complained that the band sounded thin and Parker’s voice was mixed down, when in fact a studio mishap had compromised the original recordings and forced the group to remake the album on short notice. An official live album The Parkerilla, issued in 1978, showed that the Rumour’s vibrant live style remained strong, though some critics saw Parker in a holding pattern 2 years after Heat Treatment. It was a crucial juncture for the young musician.

Parker had long been dissatisfied with the performance of his US record company, Mercury Records, finally issuing in the 1979 single “Mercury Poisoning”, a public kiss-off reminiscent of the Sex Pistols’ “EMI”.

Energized by his new label, Arista, and the presence of legendary producer Jack Nitzsche, Parker followed with Squeezing Out Sparks, widely held to be the best album of his career. For this album, The Rumour’s brass section, prominent on all previous albums, was jettisoned, resulting in a spare, intense rock backing for some of Parker’s most brilliant songs. Of particular note was “You Can’t Be Too Strong”, one of rock music’s rare songs to confront the topic of abortion, however ambivalently.

Squeezing out Sparks is still ranked by fans and critics alike as one of the finest rock albums ever made.Rolling Stone named it #335 [1] on their 2003 list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In an early 1987Rolling Stone list of their top 100 albums from 1967-1987, Squeezing Out Sparks was ranked at #45, whileHowlin’ Wind came in at #54 [2]. The companion live album Live Sparks, sent to US radio stations as part of a concerted promotional campaign for Parker, showed how well the songs worked on stage, and included another snapping r&b cover, the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”.

Although marginally less intense than its predecessor, 1980’s The Up Escalator was Parker’s highest-charting album in the UK and featured glossy production by Jimmy Iovine and guest vocals from Bruce Springsteen. Nevertheless it was Parker’s last album with the Rumour, although guitarist Brinsley Schwarz would join most of the singer’s albums through the decade’s end.

The 1980s were Parker’s most commercially successful years, with well-financed recordings and radio and video play. Over the decade, the British press turned unkind to him, but he continued to tour the world with top backing bands, and his 1985 release Steady Nerves included his only US Top 40 hit, “Wake Up (Next to You)”. The singer began living mostly in the United States during this time.

An uncompromising attitude toward his music ensured that Parker would clash with the changing priorities of the major label music business, and the label changes came quickly after the mid-1980s. This situation partly accounts for the remarkable number of compilation albums in Graham Parker’s discography. Particularly unproductive was Parker’s tenure at Atlantic Records, where he has said he was told to collaborate with other songwriters and to focus on “a big drum sound.” Instead, Parker ended the deal and signed to RCA Records. He began producing his own recordings and stripping down his sound with The Mona Lisa’s Sister, a success in the new “modern rock” format. The groundbreaking work gained the singer renewed critical attention for his followup albums.

After the movingly personal 12 Haunted Episodes, his first release on an independent record label, Parker grew quiet in the late 1990s, but began an extraordinarily active period in 2001, with the UK rerelease of his early Rumour work, and with Deepcut to Nowhere, a penetrating collection of new songs that seemed intended to reflect comprehensively on the singer’s life and aims.

A number of albums have followed since, with different stylistic emphases, but Parker continues to write songs of struggle, compassion, and defiance in a hostile society. He has meanwhile adapted to the instability of his industry. Like many of his peers, he now works comfortably with independent labels, tours often as a solo performer, and converses freely with fans at shows and online.

In addition to his records, Parker published a set of short stories, Carp Fishing on Valium, in June 2000. His second book, a novel, The Other Life of Brian, appeared in September 2003.


Stiffs & Demons_ A Collection 1980-1993

Track Listing

01 Get Started, Start A Fire

02 Empty Lives

03 Back In Time

04 Little Miss Understanding

05 Soultime

06 The Beating Of Another Heart

07 A Brand New Book

08 Love Without Greed

09 You Got The World (Right Where You Want It)

10 Yesterday’s Cloud

11 Ten Girls Ago

12 White Honey (Live)

13 Protection (Live)

14 Hotel Chambermaid (Live)

15 Don’t Ask Me Questions (Live)

16 Women In Charge

17 That Thing Is Rocking

18 Museum Palace

Stiff demon

Heal thyself: Cymande




Just the first day of the working week and one’s soul and body is already aching. No complaints, mind. Just a cold assessment of the current reality. Several more similarly long and full days await until the weekend arrives and I depart on another trip. This time to my favorite part of the world, India. Mumbai for a couple of short weekend days and then the nation’s capital for meetings and hopefully a bit of down time to stalk through the streets with all my senses open to ‘receptive’.


One does find there are days and weeks of days when despair and sadness are hard to keep at bay. What with all the shit happening in the Middle East and the suffering and rudeness of the ruling classes towards anyone who is not one of ‘us’ is enough to make the heart break.

When I get into those kind of places I generally find a long walk outside followed by a cold beer and some fine tunes return my inner barometer to the normal range. And over the weekend the tunes I turned to were from an old band with the slightly hard to pronounce name of Cymande (Shamaanday).

I used to spy this album in record stores years back and inevitably paused to take in the intriguing cover art. There was something just off beat enough about it to want me to try it out but of course I would opt for the more familiar product. In those days of youth when one is supposed to be full of adventure, I have to confess my musical tastes were firmly unadventerous. But let’s not look back.

Except perhaps to give praise. And much praise is due to these chaps with the unusual name. A group of West Indian immigrants in the UK, Cymande mixed together reggae, proto-dub, funk, sweet soul harmonies and a righteous message on their very limited number of records.   Except for a tiny number of music snobs, club hounds and critics the records didn’t get much uptake; the band disbanded in the late 70s.

Rediscovered by samplers a number of decades on, Cymande has probably reached a wider audience in the past 20 years then they ever did in their heyday.

This is very groovy music. Listen. And you’ll instantly be aware of its healing qualities. The deep throbbing bass shakes the blues loose (or perhaps packs it further down?) and slowly draws you to surrender.   Like a musical body tonic, Cymande, are an elixir.

Heal thyself!

The Message

Track Listing:

01 Zion I

02 One More

03 Getting It Back

04 Listen

05 Rickshaw

06 Dove

07 Bra

08 The Message

09 Rastafarian Folk Song



Happy Anniversary Part 6: Jazz and Related Sounds


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]


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]


Down wind from Molvania: 3 Mustaphas 3


About 10 years ago bookstores in Australia promoted a new guide book to a little heard of country, Molvania.  Put together as a spoof of the Balkans and of travel guide books in general, the author’s spun ridiculous, crude and often funny snippets of mis-information about this made up land.


The Republic of Molvanîa is a composite of many of the worst stereotypes and clichés about Eastern Europe held by people in Australia (like Russkieswogs or Hunyaks). The exact location of Molvanîa is never specified. It is said to border Germany, Slovakia, SloveniaHungary and Romania. The shape of the country with its divisions strongly suggests Moldova, and the name has similarities (as has the location description by the authors as “somewhere between Romania and downwind from Chernobyl“); it can also represent a composite country consisting of parts of Hungary, Czech Republic, Croatia, Serbia, Slovakia and perhaps Austria and Poland). The book mentions Bulgarians, Hungarians and perhaps Moldovans (ethnic Romanians) as its inhabitants: “The Molvanian population is made up of three major ethnic groups: the Bulgs (68%) who live predominantly in the centre and south, the Hungars (29%) who inhabit the northern cities, and the Molvs (3%) who can be found mainly in prison.”


The book describes the nation as having been a desolate wasteland for much of its history, similar to Russia since the 12th century, torn by civil war and ethnic unrest. Eventually Molvanîa’s various warring factions were united as a single kingdom, ruled by a series of cruel despotic kings. In the late 19th century the monarchy was overthrown, but the royal family remained popular in exile. During World War II the country was allied with Nazi Germany, and then afterwards was occupied by the Soviet Union, who set up a Communist puppet government. After the fall of European Communism in the 1990s, the country became a dictatorship run by a corrupt government with heavy ties to the Mafia.

Molvanîa is described as a very poor and rural country, heavily polluted and geographically barren. The infrastructure is terrible, with necessities such as electricity, clean water, and indoor plumbing being rare finds, largely due to bureaucratic incompetence. Though the travel guide tries to suggest otherwise, there is little to do in the country, the hotels are tiny, filthy and dilapidated, the ethnic cuisine disgusting, and the “tourist attractions” boring and overpriced. (Wikipedia)

The book struck a particular chord of humour in some people’s hearts but others found it offensive, though no one could really say who was being offended because the country and all its ‘facts’ were made up.

imgres-1Beginning in the early 80’s, for about a decade, a similar scam was foisted upon ignorant and unsuspecting people.  It was a group of musicians who went by the name of 3 Mustaphas 3who insisted they were Balko-Turkic nephews of a minor Pasha from a strangely named and incredibly obscure country. They insisted on being called things like Kemal, Isfahani and Ahmet but played every sort of gypsy and folk instrument known to man.  The music they made was lively, full of exotic sounds and a familiar rocking beat.  These guys knew how to have fun. And they were a far sight more interesting and humorous then the Australian piss take book.

Other albums by 3M3 are better than this one we share tonight but everything they did was good. In this collection they rework some of their best known ditties and throw in a few unheard melodies sung in French, Arabic and other non-English languages. Always worth your time, are the boys from the Balkans (and Britain).


Track Listing:

01 Si Vous Passez Par Là

02 !Starehe Mustapha! I, II & III

03 Maldita Guajira

04 Linda, Linda (Ach ya Linda)

05 Kopanitsa

06 Linda, Linda [Szegerely Megarely Mix]

07 Fiz’n [DJ Trouble Fezz re-edit]

08 Bukë E Kripë Në Vatër Tonë _ Kalaxhojnë

09 Anapse To Cigaro

10 Shouffi Rhirou

11 Niska Banja

12 Kač Kuzulu Čeylan

13 Selma


Splendid Beauty: Hüsnü Şenlendirici


A recent swing through Istanbul airport gave the chance to browse the book/music stores, which in most modern airports is a soulless undertaking. Happily not so in Turkey’s bustling jetdrome. The shelves were heavy with all sorts of books in Turkish, English and several European languages.  And the music selection was not a single naughty stand off in the corner somewhere. In addition to a few current global pop chart toppers (don’t ask me for names please, I couldn’t tell you any) there was a luxurious section of Turkish CDs of many stripes: classical, folk, gypsy, jazz, fusion, rock and vintage garage psych pop.  Mixed in this selection like lumpy raisins in a fresh roll, were Greek, North African, Arabic and Jewish CDs.




I had an armful ready to go until I noticed the prices…in Euro! Gulp. They love music in Turkey that’s for sure, but airports are rip offs everywhere! A difficult self-talk session followed before a more painful culling exercise left me with but a few items.  Today begins a short mini-series of Turkish music which I hope you will enjoy.






First up, is the clarinet of Hüsnü Şenlendirici. It’s been on auto repeat for three days now…and I love it more each day. Part bellydance sway, part mournful funeral band, part jazz, part swirling Turkish camp!



Hüsnü Şenlendirici was born in Bergama in 1976. He started playing clarinet at the age of five. He learned and experienced Aegean and Anatolian culture in his childhood. In 1990, he entered the Turkish Music State Conservatory at Istanbul Technical University, but discontinued. He began working beside percussionist Oktay Temiz, and participated in various festivals with the group “Magnetic Band”. Şenlendirici also joined his father and clarinetist Ergun Şenlendirici’s group “Laço”, and attended many important music festivals. Hüsnü has performed with various Turkish and foreign musicians, and has played not only Turkish music, but also Turkish pop and jazz music. In 1996, Şenlendirici founded “Laço Tayfa”, and released the album “In the Buzbag” with the Brooklyn Funk Essentials. He has given many concerts in Turkey and abroad as a soloist or a member of the group “Laço Tayfa”. In 2000, he released his first solo album “Bergama Gaydası” (Doublemoon and Traditional Crossroads). Within the project “Anadolu Güneşi”, which was organized by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Office of the Turkish Prime Ministry Publicity Fund in 2002, he accompanied the artists Kubat and Belkıs Akkale with a symphonic orchestra at the Lütfi Kırdar Congress and Exhibition Center. Şenlendirici has also performed for various TV dramas, films and commercial music. (








Track Listing:


01 Oyun Havası (Dance Mood)


02 Çığ ( Avalanche)


03 Fla-Manco


04 Istanbul Istanbul olalı (Since Istanbul has been..)


05 Sina Nari


06 Leylim Ley


07 Bülbülüm Altın Kafeste (My golden-caged nightingale)


08 Kumsalda (On the shore)


09 Kimseye etmem şikayet (I won’t complain)


10 Tatlı dillim (Sweet Talker)


11 Dört Zeybek (Four Zeybek)






A Funky Frog Indeed: Mr President


As a writer about music I regularly struggle to find sufficient vocabulary to express certain concepts and feelings.  Take, for example, ‘funky’.  I certainly know when a piece of music is funky. It has that sound of course, which is a bass-driven beat overlayed with jittery guitar or keyboards. Sometimes a dollop of brass in sprayed into the mix to fill (or accentuate) particular gaps.  Funky music has a certain feel, for sure.  It makes your knees wobble back and forth, up and down. Soon your shoulders are nudging around and your eyes are closing as your head sways in time to the beat. That feeling is good! Outasight!! Fantastic!!! Groovy!!!!


There is more to funky then a feeling or a type of rhythm. There is a spirit to funky. A funky person has a certain presence, perhaps even an aura. His clothes hang differently on his body. They are filled with a funky-ness, which is invisible, inaudible but most definitely palatable.


Funky, sources tell me, derives from a Kongolese word, lu-fuki, which means, in its literal meaning, ‘strong body odor’.  The meaning is is perhaps reinforced by contact with fumet, ‘aroma of food and wine,’ in French Louisiana. But the Ki-Kongo word is closer to the jazz word ‘funky’ in form and meaning, as both jazzmen and Bakongo use ‘funky’ and lu-fuki to praise persons for the integrity of their art, for having ‘worked out’ to achieve their aims. In Kongo today it is possible to hear an elder lauded in this way: ‘like, there is a really funky person!–my soul advances toward him to receive his blessing (yati, nkwa lu-fuki! Ve miela miami ikwenda baki) Fu-Kiau Bunseki, a leading native authority on Kongo culture, explains: ‘Someone who is very old, I go sit with him, in order to feel his lu-fuki, meaning, I would like to be blessed by him.’ For in Kongo the smell of a hardworking elder carries luck. This Kongo sign of exertion is identified with the positive energy of a person. Hence, ‘funk’ in black American jazz parlance can mean earthiness, a return to fundamentals.


And as the truest form of funky music came out of New Orleans (adopted so wholeheartedly by Brotherman James Brown) this etymology which blends Louisana French and African languages seems completely plausible.

For all the interest the above digressed introduction may generate I am still at a loss to find a word that embodies the sound, the feel, the spirit and the smell of ‘funky’.  So, I won’t even try.

Mr President

Mr President

One of most satisfying purveyors of funky music that I’ve come across in recent years is a French guy who goes by the name of Mr President.  His birth name is Bruno “Patchworks” Hovart and he’s an accomplished groove-miester with a number of groups/identities/projects behind him, including the very cool Uptown Funk Empire.  Here is an interview, which though a trifle old (2006, before his Mr President persona), speaks to the influences and journey of Mr Hovart.


imgresThere are so many uplifting, moving and grooving grooves on this record it is not possible to sing all of their praises. The revue-esque intro Mr President Theme, lets you know this is going to be a ‘show’ with lots of stuff going on. Hovart’s very bad (meaning good) guitar strokes are a highlight throughout, conjuring up aural images of afrobeat bands or the aforementioned Godfather of Soul.   But it is not just the guitar playing, it is the arrangements, and structures of each song, that are so alluring. Each one has a different feel but not one misses the mark. Horns are here, organ and silky soul voices too.  Highlights for me are the neo-soul, The Best is Yet to Come as well as the Al Green super classic Love and Happiness to which Mr. P has added a glassy edge. But the swinging closing number Trouble  (the tenor sax that jumps all around the bottom of the groove is addictive) is hard to ignore. Ditto: Left to Right and Tribute to RZA.


Not bad for a Frenchmen I say!



Track Listing:

01 Mr President Theme

02 Meet Again

03 From South To North

04 Celebrate

05 Tribute To RZA

06 Love & Happiness

07 The Best Is Yet To Come

08 Left And Right

09 Get It Sometime

10 You Move Me

11 Ginger X Walk

12 Homeless Soul

13 Bike Riding

14 Who’s Gonna Fall

15 Trouble