Kumasi, New Orleans’ own 14-piece Afrobeat orchestra, is back with their third LP and first live record. After two private-press releases, Kumasi is presenting Live at Marigny Studios to an international audience for the first time via Hiatt dB’s New Orleans-based Mystery Zone Records. Live at Marigny Studios, features 4 original compositions: jazz-centric interpretations of Fela’s classic form that incorporate rhythms and sentiments from New Orleans and the surrounding Afro-diaspora, namely Cuba, Haiti, and Brazil. It’s a bold effort that perfectly captures the infectious mix of heavy rhythms, spontaneous, improvisatory musicianship, and inclusive, participatory style that characterize Kumasi as a group, as well as Afrobeat as a whole.
Official replica re-issue of a South African jazz-funk rarity from Teaspoon & The Waves. Released in 1977 on Soul Jazz Pop, a subsidiary label of Mavuthela Music Company / Gallo, Teaspoon & The Waves’ self-titled album is an absolute masterpiece. Best known for the song ‘Oh Yeh Soweto’, which is an astonishing adaptation of Lamont Dozier’s anthem ‘Going Back to My Roots’, this track has become a contemporary underground club classic in recent times and has been featured in sets from a cross-section of DJs. ‘Saturday Express’ is a jazz-funk/disco stomper which will soon be lighting up dancefloors again. ‘Wind and Fire’ is true afro-jazz-funk excellence, with great spacey synths and reggae-inspired guitar grooves riding throughout. The opener, ‘Friday Night’, also has a slightly reggae-tinged tropical groove, whilst ‘Got Me Tight’ finishes off the session with a feel-good jazz-funk workout that features cool, quirky, Patrick Adams-esque synths.
Nahawa Doumbia’s new album Kanawa concisely captures this current moment in Malian history. The singer, whose storied career spans more than four decades, reflects on the immigration crisis from the Malian perspective in the title of her new album Kanawa. Across eight songs recorded in Bamako with a band including traditional and modern instruments, Doumbia merges her early work that relied on a spare expression of her trademark didadi rhythm with the bombastic range of contemporary Malian pop. The beautifully complex musical accompaniment that results is courtesy of the large ensemble she pulled together with producer and arranger (and day one collaborator) N’gou Bagayoko. The band features two highly expressive Malian string instruments, the ngoni and the slightly smaller kamalé ngoni, as well as a variety of percussion, drum programming, karignan (a metal scraper) and acoustic and electric guitars. Doumbia weaves together a roadmap of her psyche when it comes to the good and bad life has to offer. She talks about marriage and women leaving home to join another through the metaphor of a tree in the garden; she includes gunshot samples in the song “Foliwilen” to honor the bravery of hunters, soldiers and other courageous people; she uses a bird in “Djougoh” to talk about lazy people; and, in “Ndiagneko” she advises people to ignore critics, just do you. Mali has gone through an intense period of regional strife and terrorist incidents over the last ten years and Doumbia roots the album in tragic local concerns with deep global implications.
“The meaning of Kanawa is so simple. We see our children trying to cross the ocean all the time. I said that many of our children die in the ocean and some of them die while crossing the Sahara. But I ask them why do they leave their country? They said that they leave because of the family situation or problems like poverty and unemployment. I ask them to stay and work in their country. I call on the UN and African leaders so that we can coordinate our efforts to find a solution, to create jobs for them so that young people stop leaving. That’s why I chose it as the title of my album so that everybody can learn from it and also so that there is a reduction in the number of people emigrating. So that some will hear the message and stay home and grow the land. Leaving is not the only solution. My message is to help the youth find jobs.”
Strut present the brand new album from Alostmen, led by Stevo Atambire, a band at the forefront of kologo music in Ghana. Formed by Stevo and Wanlov The Kubolor (Fok’n Bois) at the suggestion of co-producer Percy Yip Tong, Alostmen’s music is based around the Frafra traditions of the kologo, a stringed lute and uses purely traditional instrumentation in entirely new ways. “I always like to do something “out” withmy instrument, I like to force it to work,” explains Stevo. “I’m a yout’man and into different kinds of music: commercial, rap music, reggae, Malian sounds. I add all of it to the band’s sound in different ways.” Wanlov continues, “The kologo is traditionally played a certain way but Stevo will play it at the shortest end of bridge and accentuate, almost Hendrix-style! He plays with a pedal sometimes and can keep it an octave down with a bass sound. He has evolved the instrument in his own way.”
Presented in collaboration with Sheba Sound, and originally released on the ‘Eastern Connections’ this compilation was Paradise Bangkok’s first foray into East African music. This album presents a selection of contemporary recordings from Ethiopia, an ancient country where incredible musical traditions have been brewing for centuries, unbeknownst to much of the Western world. The Horn of Africa nation is most often associated with the famous Ethio-Funk sounds produced during the latter years of the Imperial era, which lasted until 1974. But in this defiant culture – Ethiopia was the only African state never to be colonised by Western powers – the golden age for music never ended, despite decades of war and social upheaval. Ethiopia is home to over 80 ethnic groups, each with its own deep-rooted language and culture. Contemporary musicians living outside Addis Abeba, the capital, have little opportunity to record their mesmerizing sounds. Sheba Sound is redressing this by recording and releasing high-end audio music of local stars. So far, Sheba Sound have recorded more than 25 groups in ‘pop-up’ studios across Ethiopia.
Soweto-born Sello Twala emerged as a key figure in South Africa’s bubblegum scene, initially cutting his teeth in the early 80s as part of groups Umoja, Harari and Image, who in 1985 released the track that would give him his nickname: ‘Chicco’. Teaming up with co-producer Attie van Wyk, later that year he released his first single as a solo artist, ‘We Can Dance’. It was followed in 1986 by ‘I Need Some Money’. Both tracks add accessible English lyrics and catchy call-and-response vocals to infectious Shangaan-rooted dance rhythms, appealing to a wide audience that defied apartheid categories and established Chicco as a charismatic solo star, as well as a talented producer, both in SA and across the continent. Based on the success of these breakthrough singles, Chicco would go on to release politically charged pop albums We Miss You Manelow (1987), Thina Sizwe Esimnyama (1989), Soldier (1989) and Papa Stop the War (1990) and Nomari (1991).
Mukatsuku presents the second volume of killer Ghanaian Highlife / Afrofunk monsters, this time focusing on two artists legendary in the genre. First up first time on a 45 from 1980 is ”What Is Life” from the Ebo Taylor & Uhuru Yenzu album ”Conflict Nkru!”. Amazing brass, flute and afrocentric rhythms lay the path for the track once heard never forgotten. On the flip first time ever on a 45 Pat Thomas who features on volume 1 of the series comes correct with possibly the best version (and there are a few ) of ”Gyae Su”. With its jangly African guitar licks and infectious chorus lines the feel good factor is set to maximum.
This is the sixth journey with the Africa Airways. The flight opens with the punchy horns, afro rhythms & groovy bass of Eko Roosevelt’s “Ndolo Embe Mulema”. Keeping the tempo high we usher in fellow Cameroonians JM Tim & Foty for another punch of brass with the funky “More And More (Ye-Male)”. We stay in Cameroon with Ngalle Jojo, here he lays down another funktastic bass heavy stomper with “Ngigna Loko”. Jude Bondeze hails from Bangui, Central African Republic and is probably best known for his more traditional Tene Sango album. Next up, Nigerian Vicky Edimo gets his thumb out and lays down some glorious slabs of deep funk… along with a rather splendid bass solo! JK Mandengue played bass off & on for the British Afrobeat band “Osibisa”, playing on the uber funky “Super Fly TNT” Motion Picture Soundtrack album.. Certainly putting him on a path to the Wahahwah’tastic “Kosa Mba” taken from his 1979 self-titled album. Slow percussive classic raw street funk from Nigeria’s Akwassa, who’s line up is the same as “Heads Funk Band”, are up next. Another outing for Vicky Edimo on this 1978 beauty from Mike Kounou. Also on guitar duties for Mike Kounou is Francois Amadou Corea, who’s funky chops can be heard on “Ngigna Loko” & “Njonjo Mukambe”. Hi-Octane funk from Airto Fogo, percussion, rhodes & horns aplenty on this 1974 instrumental cut “Black Soul”. As we prepare to start our decent Francois Misse Ngoh drops in some filth with this 1980 bass face monster “Njonjo Mukambe”… head nodding isn’t essential, but it’s best to brace yourself for impact.
Mow Records unveils its second album. A further exploration of label head Mowgan’s penchant for house music and authentic African sounds, ‘Soya’ features percussion and vocals from Solo Sanou, an artist whose roots lie in Burkina Faso – though he’s based in Toulouse, where the album was recorded. Comprised seven Afro house cuts that utilise organic instrumentation and Solo’s raw, emotive voice, the album is the second installment in a series of five long-players recorded by Mowgan in the space of a year. This new LP goes deep into the heart of Africa’s rich musical culture, delivering contagious rhythms, rousing atmospherics and a pure, organic, unadulterated sound that has been cultivated through electrifying jam sessions at Mowgan’s studio.
Arp Frique returns with a brand new release on his imprint Colorful World Records in collaboration with Rush Hour. A compilation of 12 Cape Verdean gems assembled with the help and knowledge of Americo Brito, there is a very special story behind it. Americo Brito, who features on Arp Frique’s original Nos Magia, is a proud and important member of the Cape Verdean community in Rotterdam. His story reveals the historical connections between radio, vinyl, Cabo Verde and Rotterdam’s international music scene in the 70s and 80s. Cape Verdeans have migrated all over the world, mainly to cities with big harbours, like New York, Boston and Rotterdam (Holland). Rotterdam became one of the main destinations (next to Portugal) on the European mainland. When Americo, like many of his friends and relatives moved to Rotterdam, he quickly became infected with the music virus. Surrounded on a daily basis by Cape Verdean music in Portuguese pensions and small hotels, this was where sailors ingested a dose of “sodade” through the interpretations of their beloved music by the local Cape Verdean artists. Americo took to the stage with his band Djarama in the 70s and 80s. Here he works with Rotterdam local Arp Frique to serve up Cape Verdean music old and new with plenty of traditional Funana and Coladeira sounds next to jams influenced by wave, disco and funk, jazz, reggae and Latin pop.
In the beginning of the summer of 2019, AM returns with four exotic edits and reworks to dance to on grass. Solima is a pitched down lush and spatial Afro gem that will cause instant euphoria on any dance floor, followed by a faster and uplifting African jam called Ali Baba. Both have that late 80’s synthetic vibe we dig so much.On the flip there are two tracks which are constructed upon respectively an Egyptian and a Turkish sample. Badaouiah reminds of Carl Craig’s edit of Congo Man, builds up slowly and gets highly hypnotic and deep, while the second track Mustapha rolls out a quirky rhythm pattern with a hysteric Turkish clarinet sample.
The career of Patience Africa spanned over 40 years. After almost a decade of success on a major label with her Zulu Disco sound, and a few years in the early 80s experimenting with a more soulful sound, the funky synths of the 80’s would force her to stay relevant in the quick changing times. It would be in 1987 that she would sign to the independent Ream Music which with the help of their tight knit in house production team had released hits for upcoming disco artists Makwerhu, Ntombi Ndaba, Sunset, Athena, Percy Kay and more. The label’s success in the traditional market made Patience a perfect fit and could have been their first crossover artist.
Little-known trio The Bees put out only one full album, 1988’s She’s A Witch (Tikoloshi). Its six tracks all offer dancefloor-ready, distinctively South African grooves that show how bubblegum in the late 80s embraced house music. Produced by Steve Cooks, who would go on to work with heavyweights Senyaka, Spokes H and Umoja in the years that followed. Searing vocals and percussive synth basslines are best on ‘Hlabalaza’ (already a DJ favourite) and the title track, it lyrics telling the spooky tale of an evil woman who rules the night – ‘Tikoloshi’ being the mischievous creature of Zulu folklore (usually a man) who is still widely blamed for all manner of mysterious happenings in the middle of the night.
Lungile Masitha was the short-lived studio name for renowned SA artist Sello ‘Chicco’ Twala, who played with such iconic bands as Harari and Umoja. However, in the mid 80’s his name was under license to one of the major labels and in an effort for self-expression recorded under the name ‘Lungile Masitha’, here he linked up with long term friend Jimmy Mngwandi to co-write and arrange the two tracks ‘Vuyani’ & ‘Makoti’, both sung in his native Tsongan tongue. Vuyani is an upbeat tune that matches Chicco’s unique vocal style with percolating drums and distorted choruses to incredible effect, while Makoti is a mellower blend of floating keys and choruses sung by local kids in an effort to expose “emerging talent”.
On Ultra Satan’s second 7inch release on Höga Nord Rekords, the band is developing a new genre and concept. Ultra Satan is like a space being, living alone in an enormously big and empty space station, orbiting our planet. With mathematical precision this genius creates music that effects us earthlings on a transcendental plane and shakes the foundation we lead or lives upon.
Mr Bongo’s latest full-length reissue is something of a gem: the near impossible-to-find 1976 debut album from the Super Elcados. It first appeared on EMI Nigeria, though in recent years original copies have become more rare than the hen’s teeth and a coherent government policy on Brexit. Listening to this fine re-mastered reissue, it’s easy to see why the album is so beloved by African soul, funk and disco collectors. While it does boast a clutch of tracks that wear their Afrobeat influence with pride, the majority of the album is far more funk and soul-fired in tone. Throughout, the playing and production is spot on, with plenty of killer percussion breaks dotted throughout for good measure. Nigerian fire!
James Stewart is the host, resident DJ and co-promoter of monthly night ”Black Atlantic Club” at Le Sucre in Lyon. Borrowing the term ”Black Atlantic” from renowned scholar Paul Gilroy’s 1993 book, Stewart presents ”black music” as a transnational, incredibly diverse cultural exchange. An avid lecturer on the subject and founder of the Blog Afrosouldescarga, he merges an intellectual approach with the musical and creative side of things: as an active conga player and percussionist, member of Voilaaa Sound System and showhost at Radio Nova. This EP is the work of of a mature and thoughtful musician, combining different musical influences at a high level of production.
Hunee presents a collection of his favorite dance floor cuts from the 70ties till modern times. Going from afro to disco to techno, ”Hunchin’ All Night” holds a wide spectrum of songs, tracks by the wonderful Boncana Maïga, Pat Thomas, Black Beat Niks, Kenny Larkin, Larry Heard, Mappa Mundi and many more. Hunee, aka Hun Choi, is a Korean Berliner who has been drawn in music since a very young age. After working in record stores and studying musicology he resided in Amsterdam, where he released his debut album Hunch Music. As a DJ he has always followed ‘a hunch’, which gave him wings to communicate the music he loves with crowds all over the world. With Hunchin’ All Night, Hunee expresses his relationship with the dance floor.
The Colorful World of Arp Frique is the exotic and super funky debut album of Niels Nieuborg. After his surprising, very well received debut release on Rush Hour, Arp Frique continues collaborating with Orlando Julius, Ed Motta, Americo Brito, Ronald Snijders and more. On this surprise debut album, he continues the same approach, delivering a scintillating set of tracks that gleefully join the dots between Afro-disco, jazz-funk, boogie, Caribbean reggae-disco, bossa-soul and the kind of up-tempo, synth-laden madness that defies easy categorization. Throughout, the presence of live drums, vocals and instrumentation gives the album a loose and fluid feel, as if what we’re listening to is not a fresh album, but rather a long lost African rarity from the turn of the ’80s.