Thanks to a spate of reissues of classic material from the 1970s across various labels, Benin’s music scene has been receiving a lot of very well-deserved attention. Among the best of the modern bands is The Gangbé Brass Band, who blend horns and traditional instruments with incredible vocal harmonies.
Agb’oju L’ogun was the dance floor hit sensation of 1979. Nigerian composer Shina Williams managed to gather the finest musicians working in Lagos, and this boogie beast is what they came up with.
Momo Wandel Soumah was a saxophonist and vocalist from Guinea who did a stunning job mixing jazz (especially that of the Charlie Parker and John Coltrane variety) with ethnic music from his region of the world. This session was recorded in 1991.
He passed away in 2003, but left this album as his legacy.
Abu Obaida Hassan had a wonderful career during the 1970s and 1980s making the kids sway in Khartoum, Sudan with his tambour, but by the second decade of this century, Sudanese media pronounced him dead. Thankfully, he is far from it, and courtesy of Ostinato Records, he has a fine retrospective coming out on May 18, 2018.
There’s no one even close in the running of who is the King of Ethio-jazz. Until he passes on from this mortal coil, this title is Mulatu Astatke’s to keep.
This record is from May of 2016, and it features him pairing up with the Australian jazz collective Black Jesus Experience. This is the first I’ve heard of them, but they meld quite nicely with Mulatu’s vibraphone-based works.
This is a mindblowing compilation of Tanzanian music when the country was not yet united (Zanzibar and Tanganyika were apart just before they came together in 1964). German ethnomusicologist Werner Graebner, producer of the Zanzibara series on Buda Musique, is responsible for putting this comp together for French label Ouch! Records. Give the whole album a deep listen. Much rumba, taraab and Swahilia popular music styles to be found here.