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2009 - week 35 from 29 Aug - Caribbean

PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2009 11:32 am
by Charlie
Seq - Artist - Song Title - Album - Country - Label - Cat no

1 - Mini All Stars - Sainte Cecile. - Pure Gold Vol 2 - Haiti - Mini Records - MRS 1126-2

2 - Conjunto Casino - Moliendo Café (1938) - Cuban Pearls Vol 2 - Cuba - Syllart - 6133123

3 - Ramón Cordero - Nuestros Lazos - Dominican Republic - Dominican Republic - Putumayo - PUTU 162-2

4 - Bill O Men - African Music (Slow Cadence) - African Music - Antilles - A-3 Productions - 43

5 - Rootsman - Parkway Rock - Soca Gold, Vol 5 - Trinidad - Hot Vinyl - HVCD 023


When I was planning this show about six weeks ago, I had no idea that the show would go out on the weekend of the Notting Hill Carnival. Outside London, the coincidence doesn't mean much in any case, but it still feels good that it has happened to work out so neatly.

Looking backwards, I realise that my entry into the world’s music outside the US and UK was via the Caribbean, originally the English speaking islands of Jamaica and Trinidad but then, one by one, most of the others, some singing in Spanish, others in French Creole.

The Tabou Combo was the first Haitian group I encountered, followed by many others including the Mini All Stars, heard here revisiting a song by Jean-Baptise Nemours, Sainte Cecile.

Conjunto Casino

The compilation Cuban Pearls is from a parallel series to the fantastic African Pearls, and volume 2 revealed a fascinating discovery. Who would have suspected that the trademark piano lick in ‘Hit the Road, Jack’ (written by Percy Mayfield, a hit for Ray Charles), was nicked from an earlier source, namely a 1938 Cuban recording by Conjunto Casino? Too late now for anybody to go back to find out who heard what and how, as all the relevant parties have long since died.

Ramón Cordero

For many years the only widely known music from the Dominican Republic was the sophisticated big band style called Merengue. But in recent years, the country style known as Bachata has surfaced, most memorably and attractively in the songs by Ramón Cordero. This Dominican Republic compilation is surely one of the best ever released by the Putumayo label.

Bill Thomas of Bill-O-Men

A peculiar characteristic of the obsessive record collector is the ability to recall where and when each record was found, but I’m not entirely sure where I first ran across the album Bill-O-Men by a musician from the French Antilles called Bill Thomas. I think it was probably in Amsterdam, where in 1984 the Concerto record shop had a deep shelf full of music by unknown artists from the islands. I took a chance on a few whose sleeves seemed the most promising, and was rewarded by this slow, pulsing, horn-led tune which later reappeared in a shop somewhere else as a 45 single.


Rootsman was among several Trinidadian Soca singers whose vibrant records enlivened carnivals around the world each year during the 1980s, surfacing first in Trinidad itself before moving on to Brooklyn and Notting Hill. I think this hit was from 1984.

listen online for seven days:


PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 12:18 pm
by Charlie
email from:

1. Kestutis Gardziulis, Vilnius, Lithuania

The best I ever listen on radio...

Kestutis Gardziulis


2. Brian Nichol, Isle of Wight

Your 1st track on this weeks show, the 10 minute one. Pure gold vol 2....from Haiti...I have tried 3 contacts, and its UNOBTAINABLE..any ideas where else in the UK I can try..and at what cost. Please reply.

Best show ever on Monday night.


3. (not an email but a post in the Youtube section), from Chisenga:

On 30 August I was sleeping in my hotel room in Nairobi, Kenya after an overnight flight from Accra, Ghana. My radio was on and was switched to BBC World Service. When I woke up, I could not believe what I heard. African Music by Bill O Men was playing on the radio. I thought I was dreaming. The last time I had heard the song was way back in the early 80s when I was a student at Mukuba Secondary School in Kitwe, Zambia. I heard it on Radio Zambia.

The song is great. I listened to your programme until it was no longer available on the BBC website.

Are there CDs or DVDs of Bill O Men available? Where can I purchase them? Or where can I download an MP3 version of the song?


4. ronald gabriel, brooklyn new york

thank you for playing Haitian music.
It might be easier for you to get my music in Paris.
the most popular bands are tabou combo, boukman experience,
coupe cloue, zin, t-vice, sweet Micky, nu look, skah shah and tropicana.
Keep up the good work.
GOD bless you and the BBC!

PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 9:39 pm
by liz molony
Such an upbeat programme... reminding me of parties in the 50's, dancing to this smile making music - no wonder carnivals go on all night with these rhythms.
The Bill O men slow tempo is like the slow jive played in Jo'burg [Johannesburg] 'townships' of the 50s and 60s. Miss-tuning makes you feel you're really there!

What instrument was that on Ramon Cordero's number ? like a mandolin?

PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 10:24 pm
by Alan
Nuestros Lazos is magical. It's a guitar; these are the Putumayo sleeve notes:

One of bachata's early pioneers, Ramón Cordero was a rural guitarist who was heavily influenced by a variety of Pan-American guitar-based forms, including bolero, Puerto Rican and Cuban country music, and Mexican ballads. After economic shifts in the early 1960s led many rural musicians to move to the shanty towns of Santo Domingo, Cordero and a number of compatriots began recording romantic ballads that served as the progenitor of early bachata.

With phenomenal guitar playing that sounds like a South American harp, Cordero's "Nuestros Lazos (Our Bond)" is a tasteful sample of a rootsy traditional bachata. The influences from Cuban son are clear in the slow, steady beat and the instrumentation (maracas, bongos, bass and guitar), but the singing style, guitar work and underlying shuffle are purely Dominican.

Bit more about Ramon Cordero with some links at

and a Spotify link to another lovely song from Bachata Roja

PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2009 11:33 pm
by liz molony
Thanks Alan for those links.
I see what the writer means about 'virtuoso arrangements' by Cordero's guitarist Edilio Paredes. That amazing sound... And with the result that Cordero then had the finest guitarists wanting to accompany him!!
Was that his old friend Paredes playing on this track 'Nuestros Lazos'?

Your link mentioned the Cuban influence on Cordero.
Why would my Venetian friend who is a keen trumpet player want so much to visit Cuba for music?