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2007 - week 17, from 28 April - mostly African

PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 9:09 am
by Charlie
Seq - Artist - Song Title - Album - Country - Label - Cat no

1 - Toumast - Ezeref - Ishumar (Identity) - The Sahara - Village Vert/Wagram - Vive 141

2 - Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba - Ngonifola - Segu Blue - Mali - Out There - OH 007

3 - Bonga - Mona Ki Ngi Xica - O'Melhor de Bonga - Angola - Lusafrica - 74321 893 842

4 - Joe Arroyo y La Verdad - Yamulemau - Ola Latina: Vol 3 - Colombia - Bonnier/Fuentes - OLA 003

5 - Kaïssa - Wa - Women of the World Acoustic - Cameroon/USA - Putumayo - PUT 262-2

6 - Carrie Rodriguez - Seven Angels on a Bicycle - Seven Angels on a Bicycle - USA - Train Wreck/Rounder - TW024


The shadow of the late Ali Farka Touré grows ever longer, as one group after another follows his footsteps out of the Sahara and into a recording studio. The latest is Toumast, discovered by fRoots editor Ian Anderson on their profile, On his recommendation I made contact through the same route, asked for their album, and here it is.


The album Segu Blue by Bassekou Kouyate and his ngoni ensemble has been widely acclaimed as one of the best of the year so far, and it didn’t take a great leap of imagination to follow Toumast with ‘Ngonifola’.


Like oil and water, sugar and salt, sport and music make uneasy companions, especially when sportsmen attempt to sing. The latest example is a duet between Asha Bhosle and the Australian fast bowler Brett Lee, excruciating to watch even for this veteran observer of Eurovision disasters. Catch it on YouTube if you don’t believe me. But there is one athlete who convincingly made the jump to music, Bonga, who ran the 400 metres for Portugal (46.4 was his best time, I believe) and who also played for one of the best football teams in the country. But in 1972 he recorded an album in Amsterdam that included ‘Mona Ki Ngi Xica’ and nothing was ever the same. Quietly, gently expressing concepts of freedom and self determination, the song became a sort of anthem for those seeking independence in Angola, and Bonga has been thought of as an Angolan ever since. He voice is still as good as ever and he’s a captivating performer, but this song remains his masterpiece.


‘Yamulemau’ by the Colombian singer Joe Arroyo has been a personal favourite ever since I first heard it in the early 1980s, a unique variation of salsa with Caribbean flavours. I’ve always assumed that it is sung in Spanish, but was put straight by acting producer Juan Carlos Jaramillo, who declared that there is not a single word of Spanish in the song – it must be in some kind of African-derived dialect.


Carrie Rodriguez

Kaïssa is a singer from Cameroon now based in the USA, where she has her own profile, ‘Wa’ is from a compilation of softly-sung songs by women from Putumayo, Women of the World Acoustic, which led to the title track of Carrie Rodriguez’s latest album, Seven Angels on a Bicycle. Based in Texas, Carrie has toured and recorded with song-writer Chip Taylor (“Wild Thing,â€


PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 9:19 am
by Charlie

1.A Silvia Kouwenberg, Kingston, Jamaica

You played a track this week called Yamulemau, which you ascribed to the Colombian Joe Arroyo y La Verdad, sung in what you assumed to be an African dialect which survived in Colombia.

In fact, this track is by Laba Sosseh, the Senegalese master of salsa, from an album also entitled "Laba Sosseh", now several decades old.


Laba Sosseh combines in his music one or more African languages with French and Spanish, and his performance has an edge which Joe Arroyo's rendition lacks altogether.

I hope you'll be able to play something by the master himself.


I replied to Sylvia, copying to producer Juan Carlos, Nick Gold at World Circuit, who first released Joe's song in the UK, broadcaster Lucy Duran and journalist Sue Steward. All four replied and Sylvia followed up with a second message

1.B Silvia Kouwenberg

I actually have to thank you for playing that song, as it made me remember Laba Sosseh and search for CD versions of the record I once had. It was in a record collection which got stolen in its entirety - something which still hurts after all these years. Unfortunately, on-line music stores don't seem to ship to Jamaica. I will have to wait until I travel to some place more useful...

Anyway, looking for it on-line, I found this bit of useful information on

Along with Mali's Boncana Maïga and Amadou Balaké, Senegalese singer and composer Laba Sosseh was an early pioneer of the tradition of Africans journeying to New York to record with Latin musicians.

In 1980 he worked on Salsa Africana Vols.1, 2 and 4 with Monguito El Unico for Aboudou Lassissi's legendary Sacodis label. During the next two years the SAR label put out Roberto Torres Presenta A Laba Sosseh (SAR 1020; 1981) and Laba Sosseh (SAR 1029; 1982). Were they recorded concurrently or during different trips Sosseh made to the Big Apple? I don't know.

All five albums are worthy additions to your collection, but I have singled out the 1982 release Laba Sosseh because of the inclusion of two of his trademark numbers: "Aminata", which he remade with Africando for 1998's Baloba! on Stern's, and "Diamoule Mawo", which Joe Arroyo reinvented as "Yamulemao" for his 1987 album Echao Pa'Lante on Fuentes.

There are no musician credits on the CD reissue, but several of the usual SAR All Star suspects are there taking solos, such as pianist Alfredo Valdés Jr., trumpeter Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros and tres player Charlie Rodríguez. Definitely highly recommended.

(John Child, 2005-05-31)



2. Nick Gold

Yes I have Laba Sosseh's original somewhere but in storage. If I get to it I'll send it along.


3. Sue Steward

aha, what a great revelation. viva la internet.

I have that laba sosseh record (at least, I assume it is the same one) - i'll look it out tomorrow -- if so, will happily lend it to you to play.

I had never made the connection. and also loved it from the first note. but then i love most things Arroyo ever did.



4. Juan Carlos Jaramillo, BBC World Service

Fascinating story! Didn't know Joe's version was a cover.

No wonder there's no word in Spanish in the song...must listen to the original then!

Many thanks for sharing the information.

All best,



5. Lucy Duran

I interviewed joe Arroyo back in the 90s and he told me he got the track from a recording by a West African artist but didn't know the name.

I then interviewed Laba Sosseh in Dakar in 94 (for a World Service series) who confirmed it was his song, and he was surprised to hear it had been re-recorded in Colombia. He said the song had been given to him by a Beninois (I seem to remember) and he merely imitated the words without knowing what language it was or what the song was about.

To find out more I'd have to go back to my original tapes...

hope you're well. I very much enjoyed your interaction with John L Walters and look forward to a repetition!

I had two glorious weeks in Cuba, my first time back in ten years. I adored every second of it. Like meeting a long-lost friend. And so beautiful and special.

x love



5. Name: John Dunnage, Kuwait City, Kuwait

Always good to hear, especially music from Mali.


6. Cristian Mocanu, Deva, Romania

Dear Charlie,

Upon hearing the latest edition of your show, I noticed you and your Colombian friend both got confused about Joe Arroyo's song Yamulemau".

Well, it's actually a song of Senegambian salsa legend Laba Sosseh (some say he's Gambian, some say Senegalese).

Interestingly, the man used to sing mainly in Spanish! See also: ... ka/cd3.htm

AFAIK, the language Sosseh sang this one in is Mandinka, but I might be wrong.

Maybe you could play something from Laba Sosseh in Spanish in one of your next shows.

Regards from Romania,



7. Alan Palmer-Rodway, Chipping Norton, Oxon, UK

Delightful programme, especially the Columbian piece. Thank you.


8. meilin tai, kingston, UK

Dont know what I was doing, being half awake at that time of the morning but your amazing selection of music was the best thing I had heard for a long while. Now to set the alarm clock so i will not miss your programme again...

9. Shadunka Shepherd, Monze, Zambia

very good prog. and makes me enjoy it every time you are on air.

may i ask for any cd with a variety of the music and yo photo and bbc t.shirt?

shepherd shadunka 660417