Just thought a little round up of tunes was in order…. the music just keeps on coming…
OK…FIRST UP COMES ANTHONY JOSEPH’S LATEST OFFERING which he’s elusively named ‘Rubber Orchestras’. This poet, novelist, performer along with his Spasm Band has built a devoted following in Europe but, to date, a strong UK presence has evaded him.
However, if there’s any justice in this world this LP should alter that. Produced by the funky drummer Malcolm Catto – think Daptones and the spirit of Fela – this album taps into deep traditions born of the post slavery Africa diaspora and interestingly, for me, takes what a group like Galliano initiated back in the Nineties and drops it into The Now with a strong East Caribbean twist.
Anthony Joseph is a modern day Griot, he tell stories, he entices us into his world and I feel all the better for having been there. He introduces to the “invincible, irrepressible” Cobra, a fly zooty dude he encountered while listening to Joe Gibb 12’s and Defunkt and on my fave cut , ‘Started Off A Dancer’, Anthony immerses us in Trinidad’s deep calypso tradition.
Tucked way at the end of the album and topping off this dynamic, live infused set is ‘Generations’. Arranged and produced by Spatial AKA’s Jerry Dammers it is sensual and spacey… horns, cello… it builds and leaves us satiated, inspired and keen to savour the next chapter.
THE PERFECT FOLLOW UP to the ‘Rubber Orchestras’ is another immersion in the dynamic sounds born of the Caribbean. ‘Havana Cultura – The Search Continue’, is the latest chapter in Gilles Peterson’s multi dimensional encounter with the sounds of young Cuba. Once more he’s joined by old friends – the hugely talented Roberto Fonseca, the voice that is Danay Suarez and rap duo that is Ogguere but, as to be expected, the crew just keeps on growing.
Clockwise: Danay Suarez / Sexto Sentido / Album cover / Golpe Seko / Creole Choir of Cuba – All shots by Youri Lenquette
While the capitalist world lurches from one crisis to another this island, which has paid the price of having a vision at odds with Amerikkka, proves that creativity thrives on adversity. These two albums are alive with innovation.
Building on the experiences of the first album, which was recorded two years ago, Gilles made an semi-educational, pre production interim visit to Cuba with Mala from Digital Mystikz. They returned with a bunch of rough tracks that provided the plot for these current recording. Discs one finds GP in producer mode ( backed up by Simbad & Vince Vella) and repeated listening to these studio sessions has proved most rewarding. The “anything could happen” vibe has been maintained but the music here has moved onto another level, a more organic level, and like ‘La Reina’ – Sue Steward – who was present at the very first recordings I am impressed and definitely feeling ‘ Espera Mi Gente’.
Disc 2 finds GP at home with a bunch of fresh collaborations and exclusives that includes a brass band which rivals their Crescent City neighbours and a bleepy and infectious ‘No Me Da Mi Cana Americana’ from Santiago based Og Kola Loka. The orishas are ever present (check Francis Del Rio’s sublime ‘Misa Para Miguelito’) and amid a sea of nu-skool beats and streetwise banter the pulse of the clave and sweet tropical melodies continue to endure.
The influence of hip hop and Yard style dancehall flows throughout both albums but this diverse generation of young Cuban artists are not about to neglect the the legacy of Beny More, Irakere, Los Van Van, Los Muniquitos or Yoruba Andabo. For that we have to give thanks. Viva Cuba…. Viva Havana Cultura… Baila!
(PS: Mala had his own studio set up in Havana and his take on what happened in those sessions is set appear in the not too distant future! This album is out on the 19th November and will be accompanied by a European tour which kicks off in Brixton. Watch this space.)
ON THE CRATE DIGGIN” TIP I need to mention the latest rootical, afro-funk selekshaan from Samy Ben Radjeb. Our man from the most excellent Analog Africa touches down in Burkino Faso and comes through with 16 tracks of ‘Mystic Soul’. Formerly The Republic Of Upper Volta this landlocked country is surrounded by six countries: Mali to the north, Niger to the east, Benin to the southeast, Togo and Ghana to the south, and Côte d’Ivoire to the southwest. Hence, we, the listeners can expect a myriad of influences subtly shaping the Burkino Faso sound of this to I can just see the man rinsing the dust from grooves these vinyl discoveries with a most beatific smile on his face. There’s plenty here for those who like their regular dose of twisted West African funk with those crazy keys. Pour moi, I’m feein’ those deeper cuts… and appropriately he kicks off the album with Amadou Ballaké who appears in several incarnations throughout the set and also delivers the sublime ‘Renouveau’…. love that guitar!
Above: The album / The Man: Amadou Ballaké – Pic: Florent Mazzoleni / http://wrldsrv.blogspot.com/
Another essential album that’s been sitting by my Cd player for a spell is Ebo Taylor’s ‘Life Stories’ on Strut. A double Cd of Ghanaian highlife & afrobeat classics, this album contains the terrific original cut of ‘Love & Death’… worth the price of the album alone. File alongside your Fela albums.
I’ve also been desperate to scribble a few words about ‘Nicola Conte presents Viagem 3’ on Joe Davis’ unique and most excellent Far Out imprint. The Bari jazz don has excelled himself with this 18 track selection of “Sixties bossa & jazz-samba” gems. Digging deeper Nicola gives us a few classics from his globally renowned DJ sets (Bossa Trio, Wan Trio, Brasil 40 Graus) along with a brace of rare cuts that would have appeared on 7’s and EPs. The opening cut of ‘Fora De Hora’ is indeed pure class while tracks like ‘Canto de Quilomdo’ and ‘Samba De Negro’ opt for a deeper big band samba vibe. For Nicola these songs and instrumentals define an era… an era that preceded the military junta and they showcase Brasil’s musical community at its creative peak. Nice!
Finally (of this batch!), comes ‘Ketlenia’ by Oran Ketin (Molema). Built over a decade long working relationship, Orin aligns his clarinet, bass clarinet and sax with contra-bass, balafon, kora, djembe and griot vocalese. Of this album I have to simply to quote Dr Yusef Lateef: “The music of these musicians, in my opinion, implies that music has become the embodiment of their intuitive feelings and conceptions. Oran’s compositions indicate clearly that he is a composer of eminent individuality. He is also an extraordinary performing musician, who is a soul and mind in search of ultimate truth in aesthetics”. OK?