Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mulatu Astatke - Mulatu Steps Ahead

Mulatu Astatke already has a legendary status as the father of Ethio Jazz. But he hasn't been content to rest on his laurels. Instead he's forged ahead. This album proves very different from his work with the Heliocentrics (some of whom do feature here), or with the Either/Orchestra -- it's an album of what is essentially a meandering, laid-back groove that looks at music from two angles -- the Western and the Ethiopian. The former gets to stretch out on cuts like the opener, the reflective "Radcliffe," and "The Way to Nice." Ethiopia raises its head on "I Faram Gami I Faram," which some luscious Addis Ababa singing, a reworking of the style that made Astatke's name, and actually of one of his old compositions. But it can also be heard in the flute on "Ethio Blues," or the ways Astatke's vibraphone resembles a balafon in "Green Africa." "Assosa" is a true trip into rural Ethiopia, based on traditional music, while "Mulatu's Mood" crosses the continent to put another of the man's older pieces in a highlife framework and highlight the connections between styles. What's interesting is how much of a backseat Astatke is happy to take, rarely venturing out front for a solo (and even then they're brief, more like punctuations), but always powering things along as part of the rhythm section. The exception is on "Boogaloo," at heart Western enough until Astatke takes it to Ethiopia over the groove, and then an Ethiopian fiddle holds it in strange, beautiful territory. A beautiful album that adds to Astatke's stature.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Nigeria Rock Special: Psychedelic Afro-Rock And Fuzz Funk In 1970s Nigeria

01.Ofege — Adieu
02.The Action 13 — More Bread to the People
03.The Hygrades — In the Jungle (Instrumental)
04.The Wings — Odenigbo
05.Ofo the Black Company — Eniaro
06.The Elcados — Ku Mi Da Hankan
07.Mono Mono — Kenimania
08.Tabukah X — Finger Toe
09.The Funkees — Acid Rock
10.Colomach — Cotocun Gba Gounke
11.Joe King Kologbo & His Black Sound — Another Man's Thing
12.Question Mark — Freaking Out
13.Original Wings — Igba Alusi
14.Tunji Oyelana — Omoba D'Eru Ri
15.BLO — Chant to Mother Earth

This is the third and final installment in the excellent Sound Way Records' essential trilogy of 1970s Nigerian sounds: first we had hi-life, then disco and boogie, and now we have the complete picture with this third volume focusing on afro-rock and funk! As you would expect from Sound Way, this is an absolutely brilliant compilation that showcases the flowering of the afro-rock sound in Nigeria as the influence of US acts like Jimi Hendrix and Santana started to seep into the mainly soul-based sets of a handful of young bands. Some of the musicians from these bands were picked up by Cream's Ginger Baker when he visited Nigeria in 1970 and accompanied him on a tour of Europe and America - this experience exposed these young players to the betaing heart of the inner-world of progressive and psychedelic rock at its peak, and so these musicians were able to return to Nigeria full of inspiration. The resultant Afro Rock craze hit the students and young night clubbers of Nigeria hard as fuzz-heavy guitars were fused with heavy African rhythms, taking the African and Afro-Latin influences behind the US rockers back home to the source! Highly recommended!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mandarin Movie - Mandarin Movie (2005)

"Mandarin Movie is a project from Chicago native and current Brazil resident Rob Mazurek, a cornetist, composer, painter, improviser, and multi-media artist whose unique musical style draws from free jazz, hard-bop, experimental electronica and minimalism. Mandarin Movie's debut release is a full frequency audio assault, dense and beautiful at times, unrestrained, chaotic & hard at other times, with an almost sculptural quality, always preparing us for the beauty of sound and silence. The name 'Mandarin Movie' stems from a dream Rob had in 2003, evoking an artist's vision of singular clarity similar to Sun Ra's Space is The Place. At the dreams end Rob found himself atop the highest building in the world where 'It was all light beams and flying discs and dense beautiful sounding explosions which put a good feeling in the back of your head'." Includes Alan Licht on guitar.

01 Orange
02 The Green Giraffe
03 Black Goat (part one)
04 Black Goat (part two)
05 The Ghost Ship Is Sinking
06 Peking Duck With Steam Dumpling
07 A Very Modern Camera (part one)
08 A Very Modern Camera (part two)
09 Ghost Ships Don?t Sink
10 The Highest Building In The World


Alan Licht - Guitar
Steve Swell - Trombone
Jason Ajemian - Double Bass, Electronics
Frank Rosaly - Drums
Rob Mazurek - Computer, Electric Eels
Moog; Pianette, Cornet; John Herndon - Drums, Programming (track 2)
Rick Rizzo - Guitar (track 2)
Mikael Jorgensen - Computer (track 1)
Jim Becker - Fiddle, Banjo - (track 5)

Style: Modern Jazz

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Diga Rhythm Band (1976)

Diga Rhythm Band
Mickey Hart/Diga Rhythm Band

01 Sweet Sixteen
02 Magnificent Sevens
03 Happiness Is Drumming
04 Razooli
05 Tal Mala

During a lull in activities with the Grateful Dead, percussionist and ethnomusicologist Mickey Hart joined with tabla player, Zakir Hussain, son of longtime Ravi Shankar accompanist, Alla Rakha, and students of the Ali Akbar College of Music to form the heavily percussive Diga Rhythm Band in 1975. Recording their sole album, Diga, in Hart's barn/studio in Novato, California, the 11-piece group was augmented by Jerry Garcia on guitar and Jim McPherson, Kathy McDonald and David Freiberg on vocals. One tune on the album, "Happiness Is Drumming (Fire on the Mountain) went on to be a staple at concerts by the Grateful Dead, the Other Ones and Hart's Planet Drum.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Daktaris Soul Explosion

01 Musicawa Silt
02 Musicawa Silt Part 2
03 Quiet Man Is Dead Man
04 Modern Technology
05 Super Afro-Beat
06 Give It Up Turnit Loose
07 Eltsuhg Ibal Lasiti
08 Daktari Walk
09 Voodoo Soul Stew
10 Upside Down

One of the greatest grooves from the legendary Desco Records years – a brilliant album of modern Afro Funk done by The Daktaris – in a groove that's just as hard-hitting as any of Fela's work from the 70s! The album was one of the first to bring back an older African style to current funk – and even years later, it's still one of the best examples of the sound – a razor-sharp session that helped set the stage for better-known Antibalas work to come! Percussion and guitar is super-heavy throughout – produced with that bare-bones Desco style, and handled in a way that makes you think the record might be some treasure from mid 70s Nigeria – a trick the label tried to pull when it was released! Cuts include a cover of Fela's "Upside Down", James Brown's "Give It Up Or Turn It Loose", and the originals "Super Afro-Beat", "Daktari Walk", "Voodoo Soul Stew", and "Quiet Man Is A Dead Man". © 1996-2010, Dusty Groove America, Inc.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

VA - Putumayo presents World Christmas Party (2010)

Putumayo presents World Christmas Party, a festive collection of Christmas favorites recorded by artists from around the globe. Whether listeners are seeking a fresh spin on perennial Christmas classics or want to know what rhythms get yuletide celebrations started from Jamaica to Cape Verde, World Christmas Party is sure to put people into the holiday mood. The CD unites reggae, Latin, African and other global rhythms into an upbeat album perfect for Christmas festivities.

Putumayo’s Christmas collections have sold more than one million copies and have been hailed by the New York Times and many other publications for their refreshing, uplifting holiday selections. Says Dan Storper, Putumayo Founder and CEO, “I’ve really enjoyed searching for Christmas music in my travels around the world and exploring the ways in which the holiday is celebrated in different cultures.”

01 Wish You A Merry Christmas (Jacob Miller - Jamaica)
02 Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Poncho Sanchez - USA)
03 Christmas Comes But Once A Year (Charles Brown - USA)
04 Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree (Keahiwai - Hawaii)
05 Winter Wonderland (Jose Conde - USA/Cuba)
06 Alegria (Maria De Barros - Cape Verde)
07 Barra De Navidad Blues (Heritage Hall Jazz Band - USA)
08 The Christmas Song (Brave Combo - USA)
09 Kei Te Haere Mai A Hana Koko (H.K. Crew feat. Kina - New Zealand)
10 Carol and the Kings (Alison Brown Quartet with Joe Craven - USA)
11 Boas Festas Mocambique (Costa Neto - Mozambique)
12 Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Ed Calle with Arturo Sandoval - Venezuela/Cuba)