Hamza El Din “Music of Nubia” 1964 Vanguard Records (VMD164)
1. Fegir Nedan :: Call To Worship 2. Desse Barama :: Peace 3. Aiga Denos Ailanga :: Give Back My Heart 4. Hoi to Irkil Fagiu :: The Message Bearer 5. Kuto Fa Pattaroni :: Children’s Songs 6. Shahadag Og :: Believe! 7. Nabra :: Raw Gold 8. Nubala :: Nubiana
Hamze El Din – vocal and Oud. Featuring Ahmed Abdul Malik on upright bass (track 4) and Sandy Bull on Percussion (track 8).
Long before the phrase “World Music” reread its neocolonial ugly head, there were a few record labels like Vanguard that were exposing the ears of the anglophone world to soundscapes beyond their borders. An early classic in this genre is this debut album by oud player Hamza El Din after his historic performances at the Newport Folk Festival. I had the pleasure of playing in a band with a guy who played oud.. Actually he played bass guitar for us, a fact which he found ironic, and if we’d had any sense we would have found a way to incorporate that ethereal instrument into our work. I have also had the pleasure of mixing and recording the instrument a few times (I can’t actually play a decent note on its fretless-lute neck..), and it is one of a handful of instruments that could play “happy birthday” and bring a tear to my eye and fill my heart with spiritual longing. Hamza El Din is quite possibly single-handedly responsible for introducing this sound to the twentieth-century Occident. But enough babble from me, it’s a Friday and I am taking the rest of the day off. Instead I will let Vanguard has supply you with their typically thoughtful and informative original liner notes for this one, below:
Reissue 2007 on Coleção Galeria / Atração
01. Fibra 2:35
02. Ana Lia’s Blue 3:26
03. Filgueiras 2:58
04. Samba de orfeu 3:33
05. Tema dos deuses 3:04
06. Vera Cruz 3:30
07. Aquarela do Brasil 3:20
08. Cravo e canela 2:47
09. General da banda 2:50
10. Bitucadas nº2 3:16
Obituary from the New York Times
July 18, 2010
Paulo Moura, a Force in Brazilian Music, Dies at 77
By LARRY ROHTER
Paulo Moura, a virtuoso instrumentalist and a composer, arranger and orchestrator of numerous styles of Brazilian popular music, died on July 12 in Rio de Janeiro. He was 77.
Mr. Moura’s death was announced on his Web site, paulomoura.com. According to reports in the Brazilian news media, the cause was lymphoma.
A master of both the clarinet and the saxophone, Mr. Moura was known for his versatility, playing and writing music that ranged in style from jazz, chorinho, samba and bossa nova to classical. His first solo recording, released in 1956, was a version of Paganini’s “Moto Perpetuo,” and late in his career he wrote, performed and conducted “Urban Fantasy for Saxophone and Symphonic Orchestra.”
In 1992 Mr. Moura won a prize as best soloist at the Mozart Festival in Moscow, and in 2000 he was awarded a Latin Grammy for the recording “Pixinguinha,” live performances of a collection of songs associated with the composer of that same name, who is considered the father of Brazilian popular music.
Mr. Moura had a long connection to the great Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim. During the bossa nova boom of the late 1950s and early 1960s, Mr. Moura played with Jobim and other luminaries of the genre, among them Sergio Mendes. As a member of the group Bossa Rio, which also included Mr. Mendes, he participated in a bossa nova night at Carnegie Hall in November 1962, and played on the American saxophonist Cannonball Adderley’s album “Cannonball’s Bossa Nova” that same year.
More recently he released a CD called “Paulo Moura Visits Gershwin and Jobim” and toured internationally with other Brazilian artists as part of the show “Homage to Jobim.”
“I used to rehearse by day at the Municipal Theater and play live at night on TV Excelsior,” Mr. Moura recalled years later when asked how he came to be involved with bossa nova. “The bus would leave Ipanema for downtown and pass through Copacabana, and sometimes I would get off the bus midway so as to be able to meet up with colleagues” like Mr. Mendes and Jobim.
Paulo Moura was born in the interior of the state of São Paulo on July 15, 1932, one of 10 brothers and sisters who were taught to play different instruments by their father, a saxophone and clarinet player, with the idea of forming a family orchestra. As a teenager he moved to Rio de Janeiro to enroll in the National School of Music, and he soon began playing in nightclubs and on radio stations there.
By the late ’50s, Mr. Moura had also won a spot as lead clarinetist in the orchestra of the Municipal Theater in Rio; he played a Debussy rhapsody at his audition. But at the same time he was working as an accompanist to visiting American artists like Lena Horne, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and Sammy Davis Jr. That dual situation persisted until 1978, when he decided to quit the orchestra and dedicate himself exclusively to a solo career.
Over the next 30 years he made numerous recordings. The last, issued in July 2009, was “AfroBossaNova,” a collaboration with his fellow Brazilian musician Armandinho. Mr. Moura also wrote the soundtracks for several Brazilian films and television series, occasionally appearing as an actor, and arranged music for Milton Nascimento, Elis Regina, João Bosco and other singers. In addition, for two years in the 1980s he served as director of the Museum of Image and Sound in Rio.
Mr. Moura’s survivors include his wife, Halina Grynberg, a psychoanalyst who also served as his business manager, and two sons, Pedro and Domingos.
Obituary from the Folha de São Paulo
Obra de Paulo Moura ficará como exemplo de liberdade
Folha de S.Paulo . 14/07/2010
A música brasileira perdeu um de seus instrumentistas mais brilhantes.
Morreu anteontem, vítima de linfoma (câncer no sistema linfático), o clarinetista, saxofonista, compositor, arranjador e regente Paulo Moura. Nascido em São José do Rio Preto (SP), ele completaria 78 anos amanhã.
Sua trajetória musical foi incomum. Filho de um mestre de banda de coreto, radicou-se com a família em 1945, no Rio de Janeiro.
Aos 19 anos estreou como solista da Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira. Foi clarinetista da Sinfônica do Teatro Municipal carioca, mas a formação erudita não o impediu de cultivar sua intensa paixão pela música popular brasileira e pelo jazz.
“Praticamente, me criei na gafieira”, dizia Moura, que na década de 1950 também tocou em bailes e emissoras de rádio, integrando as orquestras de Zacharias e Oswaldo Borba, época em que acompanhou cantores de sucesso, como Nelson Gonçalves, Dircinha Batista e Carlos Galhardo.
Já na década seguinte, frequentou o Beco das Garrafas, templo da bossa nova e do samba-jazz.
Como saxofonista do sexteto Bossa Rio, liderado por Sérgio Mendes, em 1962, tocou até no histórico concerto de bossa nova no Carnegie Hall, em Nova York, ao lado de Tom Jobim, João Gilberto e Luiz Bonfá, entre outros.
Em meio a uma carreira musical tão eclética, uma das contribuições mais originais de Moura surgiu em 1976, sinalizando seu reencontro com o universo do samba e do choro.
Depois de tocar por alguns meses com o sambista Martinho da Vila, gravou o inovador “Confusão Urbana, Suburbana e Rural”, álbum que contribuiu ativamente para reacender o interesse pelo samba-choro das orquestras de gafieira.
Esse projeto também marcou de forma definitiva sua obra. Na época voltou até a tocar em uma gafieira da praça Tiradentes, no centro do Rio, despertando a atenção de outros músicos, que iam ouvi-lo.
Desde então seu crescente interesse pela rítmica brasileira gerou outros álbuns nessa linha musical, como “Mistura e Manda” (1983), “Gafieira Etc. e Tal” (1986) e “Pixinguinha” (1988).
Ainda na década de 1980, sua prolífica parceria com a pianista Clara Sverner, registrada em três álbuns com repertório erudito e popular, abriu caminho para preciosas colaborações com outros figurões da música instrumental, como Raphael Rabello, Arthur Moreira Lima, Wagner Tiso, Nivaldo Ornelas, João Donato e
Yamandu Costa, todas registradas em disco.
A associação mais recente, com o bandolinista baiano Armandinho, rendeu o CD “AfroBossaNova” (2009).
Num cenário em que ainda se insiste em criar fronteiras rígidas entre gêneros e estilos, a música do grande Paulo Moura ficará para sempre como um exemplo vital de liberdade.
From Paulo Moura’s official website, about the reissue of this album:
Por fim, de 1971, temos “Fibra” – que já recebera uma caprichada
edição norte-americana em CD, em 2002, e uma brasileira, bem
parecida com as cópias piratas que vemos hoje em dia, sem data, sem
créditos aos músicos, com os nomes das músicas errados, etc. Neste
disco, Paulo Moura volta à formação com sete músicos e, além de seu
sax alto, temos novamente Oberdan Magalhães – sax tenor e flauta -,
Cesário Gomes, trombone, Wagner Tiso – piano e órgão -, Luiz Alves –
contrabaixo e violão -, além de Márcio Montarroyos, no trompete e
flugelhorn, e Robertinho Silva na bateria e percussão. O disco tem,
ainda, as participações de Tavito tocando guitarra em quatro faixas e
Milton Nascimento tocando piano em uma. “Aquarela do Brasil”, “Cravo
e canela”, “Vera Cruz” e “Tema dos deuses” são algumas das músicas
do disco que traz, ainda e de novo, “Samba de Orfeu”, “General da
banda” e “Bitucadas nº 2”, presentes em “Paulo Moura Hepteto”, mas
com diferenças de arranjos que músicos diferentes na banda sempre
As capas originais dos LPs são mantidas nos novos CDs, acrescidas de
uma moldura que chancela o nome “Coleção Galeria” que a Atração
Fonográfica está dando a este relançamento.
Paulo Moura, como músico e comportamento artístico, é dono de uma
trajetória irrepreensível. Prefere todos, entre os vários estilos musicais,
o que vem permitindo, ao longo de sua carreira, tocar em gafieiras,
cafés, grandes orquestras, pequenos conjuntos e grupos de choro,
acompanhar e fazer arranjos para diversos e grandes nomes, como
Dalva de Oliveira, Elis Regina, Milton Nascimento e João Bosco, escrever
para orquestras sinfônicas, tocar em duo com violonistas – como com
Raphael Rabello, em 1992, e Yamandú Costa, em 2004 -, ganhar o
prêmio de melhor solista no Festival Mozart, em Moscou (Rússia, 1992),
junto com o pianista norte-americano Cliff Korman tocar Gershwin e
Jobim (1998) e promover o encontro entre as obras de Pixinguinha e
Duke Ellington (1999) e, mais recentemente, gravar com o cantor
pernambucano, Josildo Sá, o disco “Samba de Latada”, lançado este
ano. O que poderia parecer falta de estilo, ou ecletismo barato, em
Paulo Moura é definição de versatilidade e genialidade.
Na contracapa do LP “Fibra”, em 1971, Moura escrevia: “Aqui são raras
as oportunidades que tem o solista de mostrar suas possibilidades. (…)
O artista consciente que, dia a dia, vem procurando aperfeiçoar seus
conhecimentos, fatalmente se distancia de um gosto médio. Nem
mesmo saberia como fazer as tais concessões que lhe são solicitadas.”
A carreira de Paulo Moura é um exemplo eloqüente de que não é
necessário fazer concessões para alcançar os mais altos patamares.
Before I say anything else, I should warn the prospective listener that if you are planning to hear Paulo’s (snake)charming clarinet, you won’t find any of it on this album. He sticks to the alto saxophone and flute on this one. Also, no choro. This is early-70’s post-bossa jazz fusion before it became the Devil’s plaything. His band includes Wagner Tiso on piano, who would remain a frequent collaborator throughout the years, as well as Milton Nascimento (playing on one song, but contributing with some writing credits). The lineup also includes the ubiquitous Robertinho on the drum kit and Oberdon Magalhães, who would later come to notoriety as part of Banda Black Rio, on tenor saxophone.
In fact in terms of production and execution this record sits quite nicely with the early Clube de Esquina work. Moura would appear on their landmark album released the following year, and also Milton’s most adventurous record ‘Milagre dos Peixes’, and the repertoire includes several compositions from that collective (“Tema dos Deuses” from Som Imaginario, “Vera Cruz” from Milton’s ‘Courage’, and “Cravo e Canela”, the one painfully weak song here, which – as far as I know – had yet to be released in any form yet). “Cravo e Canela” would be interpreted by a whole slew of people, often very badly, although oddly enough one of the more interesting versions would appear on Banda Black Rio’s ‘Gafieira Universal’. The rest of the tracks include one composition from Moura (“Fibra”), a few from Tiso, and some Brazilian standards (“Samba de Orfeu,” “Aquelera do Brasil”, “General da banda”). The album is recorded and mixed wonderfully, with that slightly trippy and psychedelic tinge familiar to those Mineiros mentioned above. Robertinho’s drums are mixed with a rather strong plate reverb panned to the left channel that sounds pretty cool but eventually becomes a little cloying, making me wish they would have used the technique a little more sparingly and only on a few cuts. Is this a typical, characteristic Paulo Moura album? Probably not, but then what IS a typical album from a guy who recorded so much and in so many contexts. To say he will be missed is to put it rather mildly – over the last week there has been a mournful but warm response to the news in Brazil for an artistic life well-lived.
Lightnin’ Hopkins “Soul Blues”
Recorded in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey in May 4-5, 1964.
Recording Engineer: Rudy Van Gelder.
Originally released on Prestige / Bluesville (PR 7377), 1966
Digital remastering by Phil De Lancie (1991, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley).
01. I’m Going to Build Me a Heaven of My Own
02. My Babe
03. Too Many Drivers
04. I’m a Crawling Black Snake
05. Rocky Mountain Blues
06. I Mean Goodbye
07. The Howling Wolf
08. Black Ghost Blues
09. Darling, Do You Remember Me
10. Lonesome Graveyard
Lightnin’ Hopkins (vocals, guitar)
Leonard Gaskin (bass)
Herbie Lovelle (drums)
Sam Lightnin’ Hopkins recorded and released so many records it is hard to know where to tell a person to start. But this record is as good a place as any, featuring him playing both with and without a band on electric and acoustic guitar. Country blues musicians such as Hopkins and contemporary Fred McDowell were not easy guys to accompany if you were a rhythm section. They frequently would change tempos and chord structures at will, and you had to be paying close attention to see a change coming or catch it quickly when it caught you off guard. There are a few places on this session where the songs almost break down but the vibe never wavers. Immaculately recorded by Rudy Van Gelder, this is one of Hopkin’s best. The CD reissue includes the rather worthless liner notes of a Houston DJ who doesn’t seem to have anything the least bit informative or insightful to say, but it was nice of Prestige to include them. I guess.
“I’m Going to Build Me A Heaven On My Own”, which is dedicated “to all the womens of the world,” is probably the strangest song I have ever heard from him. Coming off as at least partly improvised, it is a rambling, irreverent, and quite probably blasphemous bit of blues. Willie Dixon’s “My Babe” is a perfect choice for Hopkins and you can easily appreciate why he was so influential as a guitarist-singer. “Too Many Drivers” is an environmental protest song about traffic congestion and greenhouse gases. “I’m a Crawling Black Snake” is a reworking of John Lee Hooker’s “Crawling King Snake” for which he receives no credit. I could keep doing this for every song but my fingers will get tired. Why don’t you just listen to the record? The last three cuts, however, are particularly splendid. “Black Ghost Blues” is not recommended for the insomniacs out there. “Darling, Do You Remember Me?” is a uncharacteristically tender and melodic tune that is both stark and sweet — “You’re face / something I wanna see / Just to know darlin’ / you used to enjoy with me / but hello, hello darling / baby, do you remember me?” The song is Hopkins all by himself – which makes me wonder if there was a full-band take that didn’t quite work, prompting this version. It is particularly worth you attention because, freed from the obligations of playing with a rhythm section, we can see the logic of Hopkin’s improvisational flights, unanchored one moment, back in the pocket the next. The last track is one of the best ‘haunting’ blues about death and dying that was ever committed to tape, sprinkled with Hopkins’ own “gallows humor.”
This post is dedicated to Celia in Portugal who has said she’s been liking the blues posts.
Lightnin’ Hopkins – Soul Blues (1966) in 320 kbs em pee twee
Lightnin’ Hopkins – Soul Blues (1966) in FLAC LOSSLESS AUDIO
Full of Fire
Released on Hi Records, 1976
This pressing, The Right Stuff, 1996
Recorded at Royal Recording Studios,
1320 South Lauderdale, Memphis, Tennessee 38118.
Mastered at Audiotronics, Memphis, Tennessee.
Recorded, mixed, and produced by Willie Mitchell
Yesterday I took a four-hour bus ride with no headphones and this song (above) ran through my imagination repeatedly to keep my sanity intact. I never ever travel without some music to listen to, but then I had never planned to be leaving a huge music festival a day early and taking a bus home by myself. I am not the praying type, but only about 12 hours before I had muttered an oration to St. George asking for strength, protection, and courage to say some things that don’t come naturally to me. It didn’t work, as now I was feeling more or less like garbage: physically, spiritually, emotionally like garbage, and feeling as naked as the day I was born. But while the saints may have hung me out to dry, Al Green never fails. I let this song play on `repeat` for most of the four hours, as well as I could remember it in details which tend to be fairly accurate.
My musical ruminations were interrupted by long conversations with near strangers. I could say to you simply that “I love meeting new people!” and leave it like that, but the truth is that I love meeting new people because once they get to know me better they usually don’t want anything to do with me. I move from one city to another, wearing out my “welcome mat” at each as I go along. New city, new mat. The result is a life filled with long conversations with near strangers. I am always on the verge of a disappearing act. And I never felt more like disappearing than I did on Saturday night and Sunday morning. Enter, alas, the Church Of Al Green, where you are always truly welcome.
After the bus ride I had lunch with the less than total stranger and then went to get my car. More conversations with closer strangers who almost feel like family to me, although I know too well that this can never be. But where my car was parked, the woman who lives there simply can’t let you pass by her door without inviting you in for coffee and conversation. I accepted because, with closer strangers who feel like they could be family, there is no other choice. And besides, it lifted my spirits for an hour and made it easier to get behind the wheel and actually drive home as opposed to driving off a cliff. But there are no cliffs here, so once again the choices were fairly limited anyway. We talked of geography and inequality, of Belém and Detroit, of history and health. Feeling less alone, less strange.
After the uplifting conversation I drove home in my car that currently lacks even a simple radio. A hour, hour and a half of driving through a major city, some small towns, and some very dark highways through the countryside. I would be lying if I said I still had Al Green on replay. The concentration required puts me into a state of attention almost like meditation, sliding into reflection, pensiveness, but always coming back to the moment because, well, it is rather necessary when you are behind the wheel of a large automobile. (My automobile is not large but David Byrne was once my spiritual adviser). I drove slowly in the light rain, letting those with less patience pass me as they saw fit. What reason did I have to hurry when I live alone and had nothing in particular to do when I got home besides sleep for eleven or twelve hours.
Upon getting home I was not sleepy and instead put on this Al Green record. And I ended up playing this song, “As Soon As I Get Home,” ten or eleven times in a row. This is a common habit for many people but I very rarely if ever find myself fixated on a song like that. This record sees Al Green entering his religious period but before he started recording straight-up gospel. The lyrics are less direct, more sensuous, often romantic, and remind me somehow of the Qawwali music of the Sufis. With the difference that I can understand the lyrics. This particular song, co-written with Michael Allen whose electric piano rings cascades of texture around the gentle arrangement, is quite possibly Al Green’s most underrated composition. The whole album overflows with the incomparable work of the Hodges brothers — Leroy, Charles, and Teenie on bass, organ, and guitar respectively – who were collectively the stealth missile of Hi Record’s arsenal of sound. These guys make musical understatement into a declaration of virtuosity. One of the last collaborations with producer Willie Mitchell, this record gets buried by his more famous albums from earlier in the decade. And it’s a shame, because this one belongs right alongside them.
There are times when we all feel our soul slipping into darkness. For some of us, we wonder if it even exists or belongs with other fairy-tales like love and God. Enter then, ye of little faith, the Church of Al Green, and find your way home.
Al Green – Full of Fire (1975) in 320kbs em pee tree
Al Green – Full of Fire (1975) in FLAC LOSSLESS AUDIO
LaBelle – Nightbirds Released 1974 Epic (KE 33075)
1. “Lady Marmalade” (Bob Crewe, Kenny Nolan) – 3:56 2. “Somebody Somewhere” (Nona Hendryx) – 3:25 3. “Are You Lonely?” (Nona Hendryx) – 3:12 4. “It Took a Long Time” (Raymond Bloodworth, L. Brown, Bob Crewe) – 4:03 5. “Don’t Bring Me Down” (Allen Toussaint) – 2:48 6. “What Can I Do for You?” (Patti LaBelle, Hendryx, Sarah Dash, Edward Batts, James R. Budd Ellison) – 4:02 7. “Nightbird” (Hendryx) – 3:09 8. “Space Children” (Hendryx) – 3:02 9. “All Girl Band” (Allen Toussaint) – 3:50 10. “You Turn Me On” (Hendryx) – 4:37
Featuring – Meters, The Guitar – Rev Batts, Leo Nocentelli Organ – Arthur Neville* Bass – George Porter, Jr. Piano – Bud Ellison* (tracks: 4, 5, 9) Producer [Executive] – Vicki WickhamProducer, Arranged By, Keyboards, Percussion, Guitar – Allen Toussaint Alto & soprano saxophone,clarinet – Earl Turbinton Alto axophone – Clarence Ford Baritone, saxophone – Carl Blonin Tenor saxophone, Flute – Alvin Thomas , Lon Price Trombone – Lester Caliste Trumpet – Clyde Kerr Jr. , Steve Howard
Recorded At Sea-Saint Studios, New Orleans
Engineer – Ken Laxton Produced by Allen Toussaint
I think everyone on the planet knows the song “Lady Marmalade” unless they’ve been living under the proverbial rock. Actually I think even them, along with some basement dwellers, probably know this song and can even sing all the words for you. But much lesser known is the album that it came off. The first time I put this on my turntable, I didn’t bother to look at the credits, but by the second or third song I was thinking — damn the arrangements on this sure do sound like Allen Toussaint… And lo and behold, they are! In fact it is a strike against my musical credibility that I did not already know that he produced one of the biggest #1 funk / soul / proto-disco hits of the first half of the 1970s, and Labelle’s biggest album. His trademark keyboard and piano work is all over this album, as is his characteristically New Orleans brass sensibility. Hell, this album even has The Meters on it! By `74, Toussaint was producing them along with Dr.John, and this record has plenty of sweaty southern soul stank on it. The first six cuts on this are all fantastic, with a heavy vibe of Stax and Muscle Shoals but filtered through Mr. Toussaint’s bayou universe. A particular favorite of mine is the mellow Philadelphia soul of “It Took a Long Time,” just gorgeous, bittersweetly tender soul about finally meeting the “right” person. The tune makes great use of one of Labelle’s biggest strengths – the backing vocal harmonies of Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash singing a different set of complementary lyrics. Although it is the least funky of the bunch, it’s possible this song is my favorite track here – for me, it’s a perfect amalgamation of soul and pop music where everything about it works.
The album does have a few clunkers on it, but even those are enjoyable due to the great vocal and production work. Basically the first side of the original LP is just much stronger than the second half, where the songwriting just doesn’t quite make the cut. Opening up with the very strong “What Can I Do For You?”, which was their other hit tune off this record, the record kind of loses steam after that. Nona Hendryx is more than deserving of my respect and admiration but I’m just not too crazy about the title cut ‘Nightbirds’, penned by her, which incidentally seems to have stolen some of its melody from Neil Young’s “Old Man.” The tune “Space Children” is just plain silly, but I can’t help but like it in spite of myself mostly due to the way Patti sings “spaaaay-e-ahyy-e-ace childreh-heh-hehn” in a couple places. The lyrics are pretty disposable – they might be a critique of drug use, or of hippies, which would ordinarily score some points with me, but they just aren’t very good. But not as bad as Toussaint’s “All Girl Band”, which contains completely ridiculous lines like, “And there was Mary / Quit her job at they dairy / Took up the name Blackberry”…. Is this so bad it’s good? No, it’s just bad. Toussaint had some great work under his own name but he was a much better producer-arranger-musician than he was a songwriter (his ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ fares better but still suffers from dumb lyrics and a cheesy hook). But not everybody can “do it all” — Donny Hathaway he is not…
The closing cut, “You Turn Me On,” is a slow soul burner that grows increasingly erotic as it goes on (“I cum like the pouring rain / Each time you call my name / It’s good what you’re doin’, what you’re doin’…”). This song is really, really good and essentially makes up for the mediocrity of the two (or three) songs in front of it. I don’t believe this blog features too many records than went Platinum. Even with its flaws, this one deserves the kudos.
Take One (1974-79)
Analog Africa No.2
2006, Alula Records (ALU 2002)
What a thing of beauty this disc is! Africa during the 1960s witnessed a host of incredible bands that came to prominence playing their music in the dim afterthoughts of colonialism, the sweat and smoke-filled corners of leisure found in places like rail stations, hotels, and bars funded by the capital of heavy industry. The latter was the case for the Hallelujah Chicken Run Band, which formed under the direct incentive of a Zimbabwe copper mine looking for a good band to keep its workers satiated and spending their money. This compilation from the Analog Africa label presents their story in words and music from inception to collapse, with an informative and entertaining essay by Samy Ben Redjeb, amazing photos and graphic layout, and a good mastering job. Redjeb details how the band had been assembled by trumpet player Daram Karanga who convinced a handful of the area’s best musicians to relocate out into the middle of nowhere for this gig. They had been peppering their sets with Afro-rock and funk of the type popular in Nigeria and Ghana at the time, and the mine workers just weren’t going for it. Noticing that people went bat-shit crazy when they played traditional music from Zimbabwe, they pretty much invented their own thing, crafting a sound that was, as they say, `way ahead of its time.` The band saw a lot of different musicians go through their ranks in a relatively short span of time. The most famous of them is singer and drummer Thomas Mapfumo, but all of the players are overflowing with talent here.
Every song on here is a gem. Jumping out at you with the propulsive kick drum beats, the uptempo cuts foreshadow much of the African music to emerge over the next twenty years. Of particular importance is the guitar work of Joshua Hlornayi, who played angular, staccato melodies broken up by clean-toned chord voicings – this is miles away from the way guitar was being used by most bands in West Africa at the time. The combination of frenetic guitar, slower and more sparse bass guitar lines, and drums heavy on the kick drum and stick work on the snare, all contribute to a sound that I can only manage to describe as “circular.” This rhythmic frenzy is accomplished without the help of the variety of percussion usually associated with African music, restricting themselves to a simple drum kit and guitars. Above the frenzy soars the brass, with wonderful work from Daram Karanga and saxophonist Robson Boore in beautiful arrangements. The infectiously melodic vocals are consistently impressive on this collection also (although it is a shame that I can’t understand a word of it). Take a song like “Murembo” — it is wickedly complicated, with gorgeous vocal harmony intro starting things off, when then changes its structure just as an instrumental arrangement crawls out from under it and begins playing a trance-inducing lope through the rest of the tune. The liner notes by Redjeb (for which he also conducted a few interviews) can be somewhat confusing when it comes to names and recording details, but a look at the detailed discography and personnel list on the last pages of the booklet show us just what kind of raw material he had to work with when trying to summarize the HCR band. This is a record that I liked immediately on first listen, and began to love soon afterward, and I never seem to get tired of the material. If you can track this down, pick up a copy and support Analog Africa for the wonderful work they do.
Hallelujah Chicken Run Band – Take One 1974-79 (2006) in 320kbs em pee twee
Hallelujah Chicken Run Band – Take One 1974-79 (2006) in FLAC LOSSLESS AUDIO