Aug 29, 2014

Tony Allen Announces New Album "Film of life"

By Gregory Adams 

Though the details are slim, it's been confirmed that prolific Afrobeat master drummer Tony Allen is set to issue his first solo effort in five years, Film of Life. While an exact due date has yet to be delivered, the album arrives sometime in October via Jazz Village.

 The LP marks his first proper solo venture since 2009's Secret Agent and has him teaming up again with longtime collaborator Damon Albarn. The album's first preview is "Go Back," a bubbling, bass-bouncing ballad was co-written with the Blur leader, who adds vocals and keyboard work to the track. According to press materials, the song is an "homage to the African refugees who ended up on the Italian island of Lampedusa."

You'll find a radio edit of the song, as well as a quick trailer teasing even more funky material, down below.

Prior to Film of Life, Albarn had appeared on Allen's 2002 LP HomeCooking, while the pair also played together in the Good, the Bad and the Queen, as well as Rocket Juice and the Moon, among other projects.


Aug 10, 2014

South African Jazz: The Jazz Ministers - Zandile (get it)


Victor Ndlazilwana began his career singing with the male quartette, the Woody Woodpeckers, in 1951. In 1959 he played the role of "The Journalist" in the hit show King Kong and continued with the cast when the show was taken to London in 1961. Both Ndlazilwane and Boy Ngwenya performed with the Woody Woodpeckers at the classic 1962 Cold Castle Jazz Festival in Moroka Jabavu. View this LP here.

In 1970, Ndlazilwana formed the group the Jazz Ministers and recorded a number of albums including Nomvula's Jazz Dance which can be viewed here at Electric Jive.

After Ndlazilwana's death in 1978 trumpeter, Johnny Mekoa, assumed leadership of the group. Mekoa would later perform the title track Zandile as a tribute to Ndlazilwana with the Jazzanians, the first nationally recognised group to emerge from the University of Natal's seminal jazz courses. The track can be found on the album We have waited too long, recorded in 1988.

Zandile was first issued by Gallo in 1975 as BL 51.
In 1981 the LP was reissued with a different cover and catalogue number: GSL 54


2.3Vala Madoda
2.4Take Me to Brazil

Thanx to electricjive for this amazing album!!!


Aug 8, 2014

"Finding Fela" movie

Documentarian Alex Gibney's "Finding Fela," about the legendary African pop star and political activist, feels like a rough draft for a very good movie. 

Parts of it are stirring because the subject matter is inherently noble. Fela Ransome Kuti, who died in 1997 at age 58, was multi-disciplinary songwriter, singer, bandleader and activist who invented Afrobeat music, hooked up with the Black Panther Party during a U.S. tour, then went home and mocked the dictatorial Nigerian government throughout the 1970s. He also formed a commune, Kalakuta Republic, that he declared a sovereign nation; started a nightclub called the Afro-Spot in the Empire Hotel in Lagos, and embraced the Yoruba faith, becoming a spiritual leader and even officiating at weddings. 

Most of all, he was a great pop protester, working in a country where being that kind of performer required real sacrifice. Kuti was arrested or detained by police over 200 times during his career, and often the police actions were purely retaliatory harassment. Kuti's music was compositionally bold but also danceable; commentator Questlove as being in the spirit of Bob Marley's but requiring a "more sophisticated ear." 

But more than that, it was a vehicle for messages of pride and defiance against Nigeria's repressive government, particularly its brutal police. Kuti teased them in songs such as "Zombie," "The Mosquito Song" and "Go Slow" (about the horrendous traffic jams in the Nigerian capital of Lagos, which cops tried to speed up by beating any drivers who didn't move quickly enough). The movie never attempts even a speculative answer to the question of why a notoriously thin-skinned and violent government allowed Kuti to mock them openly over so many years. And yet if you don't know every detail of the story, this vagueness works in the movie's favor; you worry that just around the next bend lurks the moment when the government finally gets fed up. 

A life this packed with so much incident can't help but be fascinating, especially when some of the incidents are personally harrowing. Kuti's mother, the pioneering feminist and anti-colonialist activist Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, was thrown out of a window when police raided her son's compound, then lapsed into a coma and died. Kuti also faced internal resentment and rebellion after his cousin emptied his bank account and his once-loyal bandmembers became increasingly disgruntled at having to play without being paid. 

Was there enough existing film footage and still photography to fill out a feature-length documentary about Kuti without bringing in extensive backstage footage of "Fela!", the Broadway music about him? Given the film's two-hour running time, which wouldn't be so onerous if the pacing weren't so lumpy, I have to wonder. Gibney and his crew jump between a relatively straightforward documentary with talking heads and archival imagery and a backstage, "making-of" type documentary, about artists (including the show's director-choreographer Bill T. Jones) analyzing Kuti's motivations and mindset, the better to guide a show's musicians and dancers. 
The film barely settles into one groove before it's unceremoniously torn out of it. Both documentaries are good (though the straightforward one, about the man himself, is rawer and more urgent than the backstage one, which too often feels like an extended ad for the still-touring musical); but you do often feel as though you're watching different takes on the same subject glommed together. As a portrait of a great artist and activist, "Finding Fela" is worth a look, but it's Gibney's weakest work as a filmmaker.

There are at least two Felas in the documentary “Finding Fela.” One is the actual Fela Kuti, the late Ni­ger­ian singer, musician and pioneer of the Afrobeat musical style, who died of complications from AIDS in 1997. The other is the title character in “Fela!,” the wildly popular off-Broadway musical which jumped to Broadway in 2009, garnering 11 Tony nominations and three wins.
The captivating and meticulous new film by Alex Gibney (“The Armstrong Lie”) is both a standard biography and a making-of movie, blending concert and interview footage of Fela, as he was universally known (even to his children), with scenes from rehearsals and performances of “Fela!”
At times, early in the movie, you might wonder whether you’re watching the real guy or the actor who played him onstage, Sahr Ngaujah. But the real Fela had many more faces. Was he a politically progressive thorn in the side of Nigeria’s military government (which jailed and beat him) or a piggish sexist, who believed that women should be subservient to men and who married 27 “queens” in a single 1978 ceremony? 

Was he a thoughtful and outspoken critic of corruption or a party-hearty pothead, more interested in sparking giant spliffs than revolution? A skeptical, Western-educated thinker or a naive dupe, known for traveling around the country with his personal spiritual adviser, a Ghanaian magician named Professor Hindu? A clear-eyed truth-teller or a man in denial, who would insist, even when he started developing skin lesions from Kaposi’s sarcoma near the end of his life, that he was simply “shedding” his old skin?

The answer is that he was probably all of these things, including the one, unequivocal characterization: a musical genius. The film contains plenty of snippets of his infectiously danceable, politically charged songs — which commonly run on for 20 minutes or more, in sometimes incomprehensible pidgin English — along with interviews with those singing his praises. Paul McCartney and Roots bandleader Questlove are among those who testify to Fela’s brilliance. But the man’s music, which was influenced by Christian hymns, classical music, jazz, the soul music of James Brown, Yoruba chant and horn- and guitar-heavy “highlife,” speaks loudest of all.
It is for these reasons that Gibney’s film is called “Finding Fela.” Gibney goes looking for him, guided by Bill T. Jones, who directed “Fela!” On camera, Jones acts as a sort of safari leader, hacking away at the thicket of thorny contradictions that surrounded Fela, in the hopes of shaping a coherent yet honest portrait of the man.

Eventually, over the course of two hours, that portrait emerges, not by cutting away the weeds, but by allowing them to grow back.

Like Fela’s complex, long-winded music, such a portrait requires time. One of Fela’s colleagues reminisces about a conversation with a record-label rep, who asked him, absurdly, exactly which “three-minute section” of a half-hour Fela opus should be played on the radio. In order to find Fela, you have to take in the whole picture. As “Fela!” costume designer Marina Draghici puts it, that entails both a saint and a crazy man. 

Tracklist Soundtrack

01. Jeun Ko Ku (Chop ‘n Quench)
02. Opposite People (edit)
03. Highlife Time
04. Lover
05. Viva Nigeria
06. Upside Down (edit)
07. Egbe Mi O (Carry Me I Want To Die)
08. Johnny Just Drop (edit)
09. VIP (Part 2 Live In Berlin)
10. Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense (edit)
11. Go Slow (edit)
12. Zombie
13. Power Show (edit)
14. Beasts of No Nation (edit)
15. Shuffering and Shmiling (edit)
16. Colonial Mentality (Live at the New Afrika Shrine)

Aug 6, 2014

From Benin/ Togo: Vaudou Game - Apiafo

Vaudou Game is a contemporary live band playing an authentic Togolese funk based on voodoo chants scales. The band is led by Peter Solo, singer and composer born in Aného-Glidji (Togo), birthplace of the “Guin” tribe and place of the voodoo culture. He was raised with those traditional values of human and environment respect. VG present Togolese funk, born in the post-colonial era but that never before explored its ancient roots so deeply and proudly. Album release in september 24th on Hot Casa Records.

Peter Solo invited his uncle, Roger Damawuzan, famous pioneer of the 70’s soul scene in Togo, to sing on “Pas Contente”. The result of their collaboration is without a doubt a pretty amazing future dancefloor classic!


Among the fruits of the convergence between African and Afro-American musicians, there is one lesser-known genre that hails from the cradle of vaudou culture in Togo, Benin, and whose key figures, Poly-Rythmo of Cotonou, Dama Damawuzan, or El Rego, have, since the 1970's, had their popularity confined to afro-groove fans.

Specific to this region of Africa is the use, during vaudou rituals, of characteristic lines that differ from everything one may hear in neighbouring cultures.

The idea of integrating these haunting lines, sung in honor of the Divinities, to an energetic 70's Afro-funk was an obvious extension in Peter Solo's mind of the analogy he found between this vaudou tradition and trance inducers such as Blues, Funk, as well as the Rythm'n Blues of James Brown, Otis Redding and Wilson Picket.

Peter Solo heard this new sound coming through him and named it Vaudou Game.

Vaudou Game 

Aug 4, 2014

Batsumi - Moving Along (pt. II)

Sometimes a vinyl LP arrives in the mail and what an amazing good surprise it is! This week we happened to receive the latest reissue LP from Matt Temple at UK label Matsuli Music, heavy 180g vinyl, thick, non-plastified sleeve, photography and in-depth liner notes, a bonus CDR version of the album… Before having heard a single note of music we already know this is high quality stuff, fully respectful of music lovers who agree that vinyl is good for you. Batsumi is one of the holy grails of South African spiritual jazz. In 2011, Matsuli Music reissued their first, self-titled album from 1974. Sorry, haven't heard it but all reviews were laudatory. So the excitement generated by this second album from 1976 landing at our doorstep was high, and we were right about it: you will need this record in your shopping list. Out of print since its original release in the 1970s, 'Moving Along' has been lovingly restored from the original master-tapes. Lasting just a bit less than 30 minutes, this one you'll play over and over. Recorded during apartheid and banned at the time, this lost album of Sowetan afro-jazz rightfully deserves praise and (re-)discovery! 

Sleeve notes :
From their inception in 1972 Batsumi were in search for new indigenous sounds and in 1974 they cut their first disc BATSUMI, popularly called BATSUMI SOUND by their fans.

MOVING ALONG consists mainly of familiar SOUNDS to prepare the many fans for BATSUMI's third Album which will revel in rapturous indigenous sounds BATSUMI caught in their quest. Al the songs on this Album are composed and arranged jointly by the Group.

Buta-Buta is the main vocalist, blind Minesh Sibiya plays bongos and sings Toi-Toi. Adel Maleka who is the leader of the group, is the percussionist and plays drums. John Maswaswe Mothopeng the blind pianist also plays acoustic guitar. All these are founder members who for the first four years have been engaged in hunting for new sounds.

Also feature din this Aldum as session men are the three former Batsumi members, Zulu Bidi, Temba Koyana and Sello Mothopeng, and two other musicians Peter Segona, a trumpeter and Sipho Mabuse, a flutist.

Press Release:
Matsuli Music follow up their acclaimed Sathima Bea Benjamin release with the second and final installment in the Sowetan afro-jazz group Batsumi's untold story. The deep spiritual indigenous afro-jazz sounds ofMoving Along follow in the footsteps of Matsuli's timely reissue in 2011 of Batsumi's debut. Out of print since 1976, Moving Along is now lovingly restored from the original master-tapes and contains additional photography and liner notes.

Batsumi was formed in 1972 by bassist Zulu Bidi and pianist Lancelot Sello Mothopeng, and led by the blind guitarist Johnny Maswaswe Mothopeng. The development of Batsumi’s powerfully original afro-jazz sound has roots in the Malombo Jazz Men of guitarist Philip Tabane, drummer Julian Bahula and flute player Abe Cindi. Malombo’s innovation was to choose a different path to their South African contemporaries who referenced the American modernist jazz language of Monk and Parker. Batsumi did not cleave to the sparse instrumentation of Malombo, nor were they new messengers of a specific tradition. Instead they presented their vision of modern afro-jazz within a wider instrumental setting, allowing its African roots to spread out and define new spaces.

The group’s debut album arrived amidst a period of intense political, intellectual and artistic ferment stimulated in large part by the teachings of Steve Biko and the Black Consciousness Movement. ‘“Say it loud! I’m black and I’m proud”. This is fast becoming our modern culture,’ wrote Biko in 1971, ‘a culture of defiance, self assertion and group pride and solidarity.’  Biko forged a visionary and potent message of South African redemption, pride and defiance. It took culture to its heart, and in the wake of Biko’s message a burgeoning arts scene rooted in the black and African experience flourished. But by 1977 the briefly outspoken theatre groups, bands and poets of Black Consciousness faced a new wave of official interference and surveillance, and many artists and musicians were driven into exile; and bands such as Dashiki and Batsumi, who had briefly made their mark at festivals, small clubs and theatres, vanished.

The first Batsumi LP is incredibly scarce, but at the time it seems that Batsumi had garnered enough reputation that the LP was earmarked for a US release on Stax on catalogue number STS-5517. Fellow musician Ndikho Xaba, who was in exile in the US during this period, recalls that the group were revered amongst exiled South Africans, despite the fact that very few of them had actually managed to hear the LP. This regard had been fostered by respected musicians, including Philip Tabane and Jonas Gwangwa, who knew their work and had awarded them the highest praise. If the self-titled first album was scarce, Moving Along, however, seems to have left virtually no trace. Very few copies of the original record exist, and it has been speculated that there was either no official release or only a very limited issue.

The original sleeve-note suggests that a third Batsumi LP was in the works in 1976. Sadly, it never came into view, and the only known recordings to have been issued by this extraordinary group are Batsumi and this sequel. With this re-release of Moving Along Matsuli Music is proud to have brought Batsumi’s entire known catalogue back into print. We hope that through these releases, Batsumi will be recognised for the contemporary and historical prominence that their unique music so richly deserves.

Matsuli Music is an independent record label specializing in vinyl reissues of rare and out of printoriginal South African afro-jazz. To date the label has released Dick Khoza’s Chapita (orig. 1976), Batsumi’sdebut album (orig. 1974), Sathima Bea Benjamin’s African Songbird (orig. 1976) and Batsumi’s Moving Along (orig. 1976). Forthcoming re-issues are set to include work by Ndikho Xaba and the Natives, Harari, Movement in the City, Bheki Mseleku and TeteMbambisa. The label is managed by Matt Temple in London and Chris Albertyn in South Africa, both of whom have been involved in promoting indigenous South African sounds since the late seventies. Both are contributors to the key South African music blog Electric Jive.

"Precious SA freedom sounds - intensely spiritual and engaged - crossed by bebop, rooted in Malombo Jazz, animated by Biko. From 1976, on the cusp of intensifying apartheid repression, and radio silence." - Honest Jons

"One of the labels deserving a big shout out is Matsuli Music." - Gilles Peterson

"Moving Along might be nearly 40 years old, but the music could still get 2014 partygoers dancing." - Gwen Ansel/Business Day South Africa

01. Moving Along 09:56
02. Evil Spirits 06:30
03. Toi Toi 05:35
04. Sister 08:13