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URGENT JUMPING! East African Musiki Wa Dansi Classics

PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2016 10:26 pm
by Alan
URGENT JUMPING! East African Musiki Wa Dansi Classics


'these 27 tracks alternately caress and kick ass.' ★★★★(Guardian)

'The best East African party album ever!' (fROOTS)

Drawing on more than 30 years’ experience with African music, the selection and notes are by DJ John Armstrong.

This double album houses 27 East African classics, recorded between 1972 and 1982. Some are super-rare, some are only now finding their way into the DJ boxes of others, but all were popular hits at the time.

From benga and rumba to Afrobeat, and including tracks from Afro 70, Juwata Jazz, Dar International, Earthquake Jazz, Orchestre Grand Piza to name but a few; these classic tracks, all mastered from analogue tape, are the true gems of the boom-time years.


Cat# STCD3067-68
Released: 16 Sep 2016

East African Musiki Wa Dansi Classics 1972 - 1982

Sterns has been fortunate in securing access to one of the most valuable and extensive mastertape libraries of classic East African popular music. Much of the material has never seen the light of day since first issued more than four decades ago, and many of the selections command three-figure auction prices in their original 7-inch 45-rpm format. For this compilation I have made no attempt to segregate Kenyan and Tanzanian artists; Tanzanians play in Kenyan bands, Kenyans in Tanzanian, and Congolese and other Central and Southern African musicians in both.

Uganda would be included in any compilation of today’s East African popular music, but in the ‘70s and early ‘80s (the era of these performances) Kampala’s version of zilipendwa – semadongo (‘master of many big musics’) – was, with the honourable exception of The Afrigo Band, still in its infancy.

There is no taarab as such here – that would need at least two CDs’ worth by itself – but there is music with that distinctive Indian Ocean flavour. Slim Ali, usually an Anglophone funk performer, teams up with a taarab group for a distinctive chakacha shuffle. The same 6/8 Mombasa tempo is imaginatively exploited by the criminally under-recorded (one LP, a handful of 45s) Sunburst – or, perhaps, taking into account the several different mastertape spellings – Sunbust Band. The Zairean, Zambian and Tanzanian players in this afro-rock ensemble called their sound kitoto and epitomized how pointless it is to compartmentalise ‘70s East African music.

But the main thrust of the music is benga and zilipendwa, the dominant mainstream sounds of the era. Benga can be full-throttle (The Kauma Boys, Peter Owino Rachar’s Golden Kings), but it can also have poise and grace (Victoria Jazz, Sega Sega Band). Zilipendwa is generally more commodious than benga, not only to languages but also to various stylistic influences, both local and imported.

Starting in the early ‘60s, Congolese bands flooded East Africa. Those from northeast Congo headed for Kampala, from the southern Shaba region to Dar, and all to Nairobi to record. They brought with them Cuban influences along with the latest Kinshasa and Brazzaville dance crazes: kavacha, kwasa kwasa and so on. Like Kanda Bongo Man twenty years later, they recruited Swahili vocalists and instrumentalists, and rapidly learnt Swahili themselves, their sets comprising songs in the region’s main languages and several dialects.

Sterns customers will be familiar with the outstanding compilation Sister Pili + 2, featuring the prolific singer Batamba Wendo Morris, aka Moreno, who had been a lead vocalist with Safari Sound, Virunga, Les Noirs and several other bands. In 1980 he co-founded L’Orchestre Moja One in Nairobi, where “Dunia Ni Duara” was recorded, later to become a Colombian champeta sound-system classic, ‘covered up’ as “La Gallinita”. Sides A and B of the original 45 have here been deftly interwoven into a ten-minute blast more suited to modern ears. Piqueros and champeteros, time to update your playlists!

Stax soul singers – Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Arthur Conley and the rest – were of course massively popular all over Africa, with Kenya and Tanzania being no exception, and Maquis De Zaire’s horn arranger pays ample tribute to the Memphis sound in “Denise”.
Johnny Bokelo

Congolese-naturalised guitarist and bandleader Johnny Bokelo (born João Botelho in Luanda) remains one of the great untold stories of African music, a modernizer and arranger on par with Manu Dibango and Fela Kuti and an astonishingly prolific recording artist under a bewildering array of aliases, including L’Orchestre Congo International. The opening bars of “Nakupenda Sana” suggest a double-speed Benin-style afrobeat, but repeated listening yields an altogether different Mandingue-funk flavour, especially in the guitars, which suggest Ousmane Kouyaté or Djelimady Tounkara.

Orchestre Special Liwanza delivers “Vicky”, nearly 10 minutes of driving, Prince Youlou-style Congo-mambo, featuring leader and vocalist Jimmy Moninambo and guitarist Tabu Frantal plus a sharp horn section. Liwanza once backed Ivorian salsero Laba Sosseh on a Sacodis recording session in Abidjan, so they were clearly flexible musicians.

Three legendary East African bands make multiple appearances. After running The Safari Trippers successfully for many years, singer-songwriter Marijani Rajabu formed the mighty Orchestre Dar es Salaam International. Rajabu has been called ‘the Bob Dylan of zilipendwa’, and there are few Tanzanians of a certain age who don’t know the lyrics to at least several of his hundreds of compositions – short stories of love, jealousy, poverty, tragedy and the misuses of power and authority. The band on the four songs here is on top form, “Rufaa Ya Kiko” starting as a ‘weekend shuffle’, resolving at around 3’14” into a relentless mambo, with “Rudi Nyumbani” following a similar trajectory. “Rafiki Sina” shows the band on a gentle savannah-style ballad, the only one in this compilation.

The 2004 funeral of Patrick Balisidya, founder and, for four decades, the driving force of Afro 70, halted the traffic in downtown Dar for an entire morning. The band’s two tracks here show exceptional versatility, from soul-funk to rumba without a flicker.

Though the various Super Mambo groups suffered a bewildering number of name changes over the years, their basic personnel remained roughly consistent throughout. Their speciality was a sort of Latinate, Hawaiian-influenced guitar rumba and cha cha cha followed by several tempo-changing sebenes. Their sought-after singles regularly fetch serious money on eBay from Latin music fans looking for something different. If you get the chance, check out Super Mambo Jazz 69’s sole RCA Victor LP, which includes another Colombian champeta hit, “Maria Ayebi” (retitled “El Mambotazo”).

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I started off with more than 1000 tracks, shuffled and reshuffled to a shortlist of around 60, reducing to 27 for this first volume by means of little more than a blindfold, a drawing-pin and instinct. There are at least another 27 more tracks earmarked for a possible Volume 2, and it’s my hope that the many excellent and knowledgeable old-school Afro DJs worldwide will now start to add a little more zilipendwa to their usual afrobeat, highlife, soukous and makossa playlists.