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.
Lebanese DJ and crate-digger supreme Ernesto Chahoud has done sterling work collecting some of the most impressive 7-inch sides to come out of Ethiopia. BBE Records has done a great job in remastering and packaging this collection. What I’m looking most forward to is seeing the 3-LP collection. It looks gorgeous.
Finders Keepers have released 100 of the most brilliant reissues imaginable. Spanning from weird African tapes to Jean Rollin horror soundtracks, the lads at FK seem unstoppable at the moment. Here’s to another 100 gems, at least!
Awesome Tapes From Africa has been releasing some utterly amazing music from all over the Continent, but it got its start as a blog sharing tapes that would otherwise never have exposure in the West.
This particular tape features Moroccan Berber singer Aïcha Tachinwite (also transliterated as Tachinouite), a fine recording of disco-influenced Arabic music. The only issue with this tape will be trying to find a track listing. Otherwise, this is a gem.
The month of September was rather spectacular for me. First, I was able to see my beloved friends in Skopje, Macedonia, where people are almost as close as my own blood relatives. The next little joy I experienced was going to the Without Borders World Music Consortium, where I had the pleasure to re-connect with comrades who spend their days promoting the best of World and Ethno Music in their respective countries.
I am especially indebted to seeing Stefanie Schumann of Delicious Tunes, who introduced me to the work of Mamadou Diabate, a balofon player originally from Burkina Faso (now residing in Vienna, Austria, if I’m not mistaken). After being blown away by his band, who were showcased on the final evening of Without Borders (along with Breton sensations Plantec), I was given a CD which featured not only Mamadou and fellow countryman, the pelu (flute) player Dramane Dembélé and Austrian percussionist Claudio Spieler.
After having the honor of meeting Mamadou, I was given some rather impressive background information. He comes from a Samba “Jeli” family, and has several works available (all of which we hope to review in the future).
Throughout the disc, the musicians play very comfortably together, as if they had been a trio for a long time. As it turns out, Mamadou and Dramane perform together with some frequency, but Claudio’s percussion work underpins the the balafon and peul beautifully.
Where the album shines, however, is when Mamadou sings, especially on the song Koroya. His voice, in harmony with Dramane’s reminds me of the best of West African music, and the balafon adds even more body, serving, in some sense, as a third voice.