Sunday, October 22, 2017

Tanzania Edition

Today's post features classic muziki wa dansi from the late 1970s. This album (the first LP edition on Tanzania Film Company TLP001?) showcased NUTA Jazz Band and J.K.T. Kimbunga.

NUTA Jazz Band was at the core of Tanzania's dance music scene, with the prolific singer-composer Muhiddin Maalim Gurumo, guitarist Abel Balthazar,  and singer-composer Hassani Bitchuka (who later all joined Mlimani Park Orchestra at the Mlimani Park Bar in Mwenge, Dar es Salaam). Joseph Lusungu (trumpet) and Mnenge Ramadhani (saxophone) made up the core of the brass section.


The bands in the 1960s and 1970s were tied to Tanzania's state and parastatal bodies - these could their hands more easily on restricted import items like musical instruments and amplifiers. NUTA Jazz was the band of the National Union of Tanzania Workers, later changed into JUWATA, and even later into OTTU.

The NUTA Jazz tracks on the A side are great; I love the B side with J.K.T. Kimbunga even more. There is not much info to be found about JKT Kimbunga (aka Kimbunga Stereo): it was the band affiliated with the National (Army) Service, Jeshi la Kujenga Taifa. Some of its members also came out of NUTA Jazz, like Capt. John Simon (who was part of Shikamoo Jazz).

JKT Kimbunga

Like many Jazz Bands, the lyrics focus on love affairs -- when they are not concerned with building the nation. JKT's lyrics are a delight: Ushirikina deals with a woman who seeks a love potion from a witchdoctor and feeds it to her love interest, the next morning the man is found dead. Wachuma watatu describes a woman with three lovers: "Abandon your ways, sister. What's worse, you're taking money from all three!" In Cheza Rumba they warn dancers to watch their clothes, "Don't let them be blown away by the fierce wind (of Kimbunga's rumba)."

Further reading:

Askew, K. (2002). Performing the nation: Swahili music and cultural politics in Tanzania. University of Chicago Press.

Graebner, W. (2007). The Ngoma Impulse: From Club to Nightclub in Dar es Salaam. Dar es Salaam: Histories from an Emerging African Metropolis, 177-97.

Perullo, A. (2008). Rumba in the city of peace: Migration and the cultural commodity of congolese music in dar es salaam, 1968-1985. Ethnomusicology, 52(2), 296-323. Download here.

TLP001 NUTA Jazz Band - JKT Kimbunga


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

a seven-year itch

Well, my last post was about 7 years ago. Life happens and you move across the continent and live/work 5 exciting, hot years in Burkina Faso. 

You meet interesting characters like Ali.

"Ali Ouedraogo, 70 years old. He lost his eyesight at age 15, which stopped his carpentry apprenticeship. So he started dj-ing, animating 'bals poussières' (dusty dances) in the north of Burkina Faso. He is spinning a 78 rpm: Baba Soumano et son Orchestre Soudanais Kita. Loving meeting people like him!"

Or this man, a pirate-bricoleur, who tinkered together a microtransmitter from old radios and stereo equipment, supplies his village with rebroadcasts of his favorite radio shows, music, his version of the news, and even manages live remote broadcasts of soccer matches - provided they're not further than 2-3 kilometers. His radio station: "Radio Bouche Qui Ne Parle Pas" (Mouth Which Does Not Speak).

You enjoy live music, like this gathering at the Fechiba festival (2014) in the north, near the border with Mali.

Fechiba, the festival of the horse, is an ancestral tradition to pledge allegiance to the traditional chef. Until last year, it was held annually to celebrate the peaceful coexistence of the agropastoral populations on the borderzone of Burkina Faso and Mali. 

The horsemanship goes back centuries: Almamy Samore Lafiya Toure (c. 1830 – June 2, 1900), the Guinean muslim cleric, founder and leader of the Wassoulou empire, was said to have his troops fetch horses from the Barani area. Toure, who resisted French colonial rule until his capture in 1898, was the great-grandfather of Guinea's first president, Ahmed Sékou Touré.

You restore another Vespa.

And you ride it...

Some of us who made/make these music blogs have met in real life, some of us keep in touch via the interweb. The music is still out there, in multiple guises: vinyl (I find a trickle of decent 45s or 33rpm's once in a while), cassettes, on flashdrives and in mobile phones.

John brought Likembe back to life. At Wallahi Le Zein Matthew lets us listen to rare cassette recordings and adds fascinating stories. Another Matthew, at Matsuli Music reissues amazing LPs from South Africa and beyond: I love Black Disco's Night Express

Surprisingly I am now back in Tanzania (with decent bandwidth) and I have been itching to post music again, so...

These past years, with more direct exposure to Sahelian sounds and thanks to Sahelsounds (the blog, the mixes, the releases), Habibi Funk, Arab Tunes, I have been listening to a lot of North African/Middle Eastern music. There's a wealth of music on the edge of and in the Sahel. 

My itinerant vinyl vendor here brought this Sudanese record a couple of months ago. I knew the Munsphone label but didn't immediately recognise the singer (and the one year of Arabic I had 30 years ago didn't help). Pierre Kahane helped to identify it as Mohammed Wardi, the Nubian Sudanese legend.  

Mohammed Osman Hassan Salih Wardi (9 July 1932 – 18 February 2012) is a musical legend in Sudan, Egypt, the horn of Africa and the Arab world. A prolific composer, politically outspoken - I read that one of his first songs dealt with CIA's involvement in Lumumba's assassination - to the point he fled Sudan and went in exile in 1989. 

I'd love to understand his lyrics, and would love to know if there are transcripts and translations of his songs out there.

For now, enjoy Mohammed Wardi.


Here's Mohammed Wardi live in the 1960s (?): a string section, brass, a guitar, accordeon, and a golden voice.

Live in Addis: not sure if this is the legendary 1990 concert where he played for 250,000 Sudanese refugees.

Finally, Al Balabil, "The Nightingales," of whom I also love to hear more of. There used to be some files via Ghostcapital at The Audiotopia but they're now also defunct.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

N'gola Ritmos

I haven't had much luck in finding old Angolan vinyl. Dear friends (Thanks, Kris & Lay!) were looking around a couple of months ago in Quito but said the war destroyed a lot, including old LPs, and rich Angolans are also on the hunt for music. Maybe some will turn up in time.

I have a list of bands I'd love to hear more of, and N'gola Ritmos is high on the list. Even more, now that I saw these videos (from RTP, 1964). In awe of Monami and Lourdes Van Dunem. Amazing!

There's also a book on that list: Marissa Jean Moorman's "Intonations: A Social History of Music and Nation in Luanda, Angola, from 1945 to Recent Times" (2008, Ohio University Press). Moorman is professor of African history at Indiana University. She writes:
N’gola Ritmos formed in 1947 and continued until the 1970s with various combinations of musicians including two female vocalists, Belita Palma and Lourdes Van Dunem. In the early 1960s some founding members were sent off to prison or exiled from Luanda to other provinces on temporary work assignments. The band played in a variety of venues in the capital, from the birthday parties of friends and families to the Liga, the city’s cinemas, and even the governer’s palace, as well as in other provinces. Carlos do Aniceto “Liceu” Vieira Dias was the group’s founder. Angolan musicologists credit Vieira Dias with translating songs of rural derivation into a popular music that was danceable and, in so doing, unleashing the development of urban popular music and in the particular the form known as semba.
Enjoy these, read up, and do let me know if you find N'gola Ritmos LPs (or even crazier, have double copies for sale)!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Franklin Boukaka

Franklin Boukaka was an amazing composer, poet, and activist. I wonder what he might have become if he wasn't executed in 1972, after a failed coup in Congo Brazzaville. His short career (he was 32 when he died) spanned work with Negro Band (which he helped start), then African Jazz/Vox Africa, and Cercul Jazz. More on Boukaka can be found at WorldService. This album from 1970, arranged and directed by Manu Dibango, is a classic.

Franklin also recorded with Keletigui et ses Tambourinis (and toured with them in Guinee). One of those tracks is on the Stern's Keletigui compilation, thanks to the restoration work by Graeme Counsel.

Le Bucheron
Likambo Oyo
Ata Ozali
Pont Sur Le Congo
Dia Bikola

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I'm sorry I missed the tour of Les Bantous (de la Capitale) last year. It was the last time Jean Serge Essous performed; he passed away last year in Brazzaville. The Bantous were integral to much of the music that came out of Congo: OK Jazz, Rock-A-Mambo, Ryco Jazz, Negro Jazz, ...

Here's a not-so-old album (early 1980s) with 4 classic grooves.

Les Bantous - Bilanda-landa Mabe
Les Bantous - Dege
Les Bantous - Osala Ngai Nini
Les Bantous - Querida Paola

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Jazz Babalou

Phil-Philo's Jazz Babalou was one of the bands on the Ngoma label. Not much is known about Phil-Philo. The liner notes of this 45 (Ngoma 4531/32) state: Phil-Philo was born in 1942 in the Bas-Congo province. After excellent studies, he quit school, drawn to music. First as singer, then composer, he set up his own orchestra, Viviane-Mambo, which was later renamed into Jazz Babalou. His songs are "inspired by woman and her infidelity." Augustin Bakome plays sax on these tunes.

Phil-Philo & Jazz Babalou - Batela Elaka Na Ngai
Phil-Philo & Jazz Babalou - Yo Okei Otiki Ngai?
Mario Lopes & Jazz Babalou - Ye Ye
Mario Lopes & Jazz Babalou - Cleo Wa Mabanzo

P.S. If you haven't heard of Baloji, check out the sounds and video. Love the Karibu Ya Bintou video shot in Kin, as well as the remake and video of Independence Cha Cha. After a tour of Congolese cities earlier this year (no minor feat!), he's playing around Europe this summer.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Leon Bukasa & Beguen Band

Well, I can't seem to go around the Congolese Independence. Worldservice has published excellent info on Leon Bukasa and the early Ngoma years, I am not going to add text and just play the music.

These are from one of those early Ngoma 45s, both tracks celebrate the independence. I don't recall that Wrldsrv posted these already so it's my way to say, Thanks Stefan!, for all the rarities and stories you have posted.

Leon Bukasa & Beguen Band - Tokanisa Kongo Ya Biso (Let's think about our Kongo)
Leon Bukasa & Beguen Band - Bukole

Bakuba Emperor

Kabasele Yampanya, known as Pepe Kalle, was a great performer and a giant of a man. His house in Kinshasa was open to anyone. His later songs (like Moyibi and a modern version of Bakoule -- I have been looking for this modern version; I have it somewhere in my cassette collection that's gathering dust) are much more well-known than these old tracks I am posting today.

Congo's 50th birthday festivities are now over, as are those of the world cup (no more vuvuzelas buzzing at night from all the radios and television in the neighborhood). Life goes on. As does this blog. Enjoy.

Orchestre Empire Bakuba - Kombe Dilu
Orchestre Empire Bakuba - Naleleli Pt. 1 & 2
Orchestre Empire de Bakuba - Massa Pt. 1 & 2
Orchestre Les Bakuba - Likabu Mabe

Thursday, September 24, 2009

From Rock-A-Mambo To Orchestre Bantou

On the A side of this 45 -- a Pathe-Marconi edition, originally released on the Esengo label -- you get Nino (Malapet) and Rock-A-Mambo; on the B side, (Edouard) Edo (Ganga) and (Jean Serge) Essous with Orchestre Bantou. All representing the best of Kinshasa's musicians and orchestras in the 1950s, from Negro Jazz and African Jazz to OK Jazz.

I'm still searching for another 45 by Rock-A-Mambo: ESDF 1372 which has the Orchestra performing with Kabasele and African Jazz. It has a track called "Les Voyous" (delinquent, rascal) which I'd love to hear. Well, to be honest, I'd love to listen to it all. Check muzikifan's discography of Rock-A-Mambo.

Orchestre Rock-A-Mambo - Yamare
Orchestre Rock-A-Mambo - Iyele
Orchestre Bantou - Nalembi Bipale
Orchestre Bantou - Ah! Que Pena

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The New Rhythm of The Time

Several folks have asked to hear more of Rock-A-Mambo. Going back in time, to the 1950s, Rock-A-Mambo was a predecessor of Orchestre Bantous (de la Capitale).

More on Bantous later: they are (were?) back on tour, celebrating 50 years of performing!

I posted one track of this Rock-A-Mambo 45 a long time ago (2004!) in a guest post at Bennloxo. I cannot get enough of the rocamambu rhythms and hope to find more 45s some day.

Post title from the beginning of Panchita: .. el nuevo ritmo del tiempo...

Here are all the tracks:

Serenade Sentimentale

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Poly Rythmo

The legendary Poly Rythmo is touring Europe this September (France, Holland, Belgium, UK). It's the first time they will be performing in Europe and going by these recent clips (of rehearsals in Cotonou and the first concert in Holland), I wish I was up north right now and could see them live.

Clip 1 & Clip 2: Orchestre Poly Rythmo 2009. Clip 3: Venlo Concert, Sept. 2009

If you're (still) wondering what they sound like, listen to this 45 by the prolific orchestra: a composition by Joachim Boya, performed by Eskill Lohento and Poly Rythmo (Editions Satel 129).

Bon Weekend - Poly Rythmo
Production - Poly Rythmo

Want more? Miles Cleret (of Soundwayrecords) put up his favourite tracks of the orchestra (85 min).

Enjoy your weekend wherever you are & if you can, go support and dance with Poly Rythmo.

Tanzania Edition

Today's post features classic muziki wa dansi from the late 1970s. This album (the first LP edition on Tanzania Film Company TLP0...