Oct 15, 2010

Hugh Masekela - Lasting Impression Of Ooga Booga



Combining two great albums into one convenient package, THE LASTING IMPRESSIONS OF OOGA BOOGA presents the recordings that introduced the West to the music of one of jazz's most formidable forces--Hugh Masekela. Hailing from South Africa, Masekela wowed a generation, earning fans as diverse as Eric Burdon and Miles Davis.

On THE LASTING IMPRESSIONS OF OOGA BOOGA, Masekela's music combines the elements of the American art form with African song structures, rhythms and melodies. The result is a truly remarkable fusion. "Canteloupe Island" is the only jazz standard here, the rest of the two albums consisting of African originals given a jazz treatment. This collection also affords the listener a chance to hear the raw energy of Masekela's live show, as the first half of the CD was recorded live in New York City.

Recorded live at the Village Gate, New York, New York in 1965.



(Positive)Reviews at amazon.com

Negative ones I don't wanna add coz' this disc is really amazing!!! Check it out!!!

First one:

When I was still counting my years on two hands, Hugh Masekela was making a bold impression, indeed, on America, topping the U.S. pop chart with "Grazing In The Grass." It's flipside also made an impression on me. "Bajabula Bonke" was the first song of African origin I ever listened to at length. Without understanding the words or their exact meaning (I was 8), I was touched by the spirit of the storyteller that is so much a part of African history. It also featured a kind of rhythm I'd never encountered before; very much unlike what prevailed in those days on Black radio. This album, recorded about three days earlier, contains a live performance in New York City by a very young Masekela, including a less-polished version of "Bajabula Bonke." Hugh was still married to Miriam Makeba at this time, and he learned many songs from her (Makeba's mother was an asongoma, one who told stories/history through song). Masekela is not yet a master on this set, which is preserved here as one performance (the original release on vinyl was divided onto two albums), but he is already a journeyman soloist. He has a vision, and he and his combo are fleshing it out as they go along. This album is the root of the World Beat movement as we know it. Masekela and company are combining elements of Africa, Cuba, South America, and good ol' American Jazz into a new form; a form which could truly traverse the world. I think Hugh wanted to make an impact, so the first five cuts on this performance seem strongest. But there are other fine performances, like on "Masquenada." He displays fine range and good mechanics as a singer, which has always been a very underrated part of his game. Listen to Hugh's version of "Canteloupe Island" and compare it to the hugely popular hip-hop version of a few years ago. Hugh definitely made an impact. It has taken years, but Hugh has remained true to his roots and his causes, and is highly respected worldwide. If you want to hear his sound fully realized, seek out his album, "Tomorrow." This CD shows you the process of creative alchemy. Hugh Masekela takes Manhattan and shows that he is ready for the World. If you want to hear some of these same songs in a more traditional South African style, check out Miriam Makeba's late 80s release, "Sangoma."

Second one:

Perhaps I can give happy dog some perspective. When this album was first released, it was titled The Americanization of OOga BOOga! I believe the year was 1964 or 1965. I know, I have the original album and cover. The picture is the same, but the way the words have been splashed across the album cover, it is clearly to cover up the original title. If you consider the original name of the album, the Americanization..., then it should be clear why the music has a pop feel to it. It was intended to introduce African rhythms to an American audience, which means it had to be dumbed down (so to speak). There was a time when coming to America meant something. Then, there is the period of awakening when the new arrivals become disillusioned with the dream. Such was the case with Masekela many years later. I was in the audience when he announced that he was no longer going to play Grazing in the Grass, because it was a dillution of who he was and what he was hoping to contribute with his music. Rather than introducing his music to this country, he found himself playing music written and arranged by Americans and they were only using him and his horn to sell the same old things to us. He was right, America is not open to new experiences. We are only interested in adding just a bit of spice to that which is already familiar. But, trust me, when this album came on the scene, it was a big thing, indeed.

Third one:

I had a Hugh Masekela collection that began when I was 15 years old, when I became Hugh's number one fan (prove I'm not!). I had both the albums that comprise this one. I loss possession of all of my Hugh albums (moving, relationship break-ups, etc., etc.). I'm ecstatic to recover two of them in one buy. I'm too prejudiced to really rate this CD because when the originals were out, I was about everything Hugh. I loved them then, and I love them now. The songs still sound as good to me now as they did then. But, the good thing is that even if you don't go way back with Hugh like me, the music is still GREAT!

Fourth one:

One of the biggest pain points of any musician is hearing some rank-amateur in the crowd complain that they didn't perform with enough proficiency to rank them up with their dutiful critic's standards. They are missing the point of live performance. But, then again, none of these nay-sayers have ever had to pick up a horn and play in their entire life.

This CD (dad's LP when I first spun it) defined live performance for me as a kid. Yea, ther might be a few subtle gaffs here and there, but they are in context with the music. This is more of an inflexion than a mistake. Score Masekela: 1, Grumpy Pundit: 0.

The depth of the recording itself makes it one of my favorites on my CD rotation. It certainly captures the ambiant refelctions of a smokey NYC nightclub that is The Village Gate. If you close your eyes, you can almost see the skinny black ties and dark sunglasses. Try not to pass this off as lounge fodder. You'll be making a gross error in judgement.


1. Bajabula Bonke (The Healing Song)
2. Dzinorabiro
3. Unhlanhia
4. Cantaloupe Island
5. U-Dwi
6. Mas Que Nada
7. Abangoma (The Healers)
8. Mixolydia
9. Con Mucho Carino
10. Where Are You Going?
11. Morolo
12. Bo Masekela
13. Unohilo

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