1 - Saban Bayramaovic - I Bar Val Pudela - Princes among Men - Serbia - Asphalt Tango - CD-ATR 1608
2 - Alton Ellis - Cry Tough - Alton Ellis: Be True to Yourself - Jamaica - Trojan - TJDDD205
3 - Hector Zazou - Nazar Shaan - In The House of Mirrors - France - Crammed - Craw 47
4 - Jimmy Giuffre - The Train & The River - Sound of Jazz - USA - Columbia - CK 45234
5 - Wendo Kolosoy - Marie Louise (1948) - N'goma: The Early Years - Congo - Pam - Pamap 101
6 - Andy Palacio - GagÃ¡nbadibÃ¡ (Take Advice) - Watina - Belize - Cumbancha - CMB-CD-3
7 - Miriam Makeba - Click Song (Quongqothwane) - Miriam Makeba: The Definitive Collection - South Africa - Wrasse - WRASS 062
We come and we go. The misjudgment is for any of us to assume that there is still time left to do something we are putting off for another day. It may never come.
Å aban Bajramović [photo copyright - www.kustu.com ]
After a lifetime as a revered but underpaid hero in the Balkans, the Serbian singer Å aban Bajramović had assumed he had paid his dues and that his musical career was over until producer Dragi Å estić lured him back to the recording studio in 2001 and pulled what has been widely recognised as the best album of his career out of him. Despite the new acclaim, much of it from regions not previously been aware of him, Å aban was not committed to relaunching another career, and when he died earlier this year at the age of 72, he was still largely unrecognised.
Alton Ellis [photo copyright: www.jahWarrior.com ]
The Jamaican singer Alton Ellis achieved immortality with his song â€˜Rock Steadyâ€™ (1970) which identified and gave an official name to the new style that had emerged out of ska and briefly pre-dated reggae. Like many singers of his generation, Ellis was poorly paid for his records and was soon considered outdated as new styles and names replaced the pioneers.
Hector Zazou was the assumed name taken on by the son of French and Spanish parents who emerged as a pioneering producer in the early 1980s, combining programmed drums with live vocals from Congolese singers. Having recently become more widely known as the producer of others (notably Sevara Nazarkhan for Real World), Zazou had just completed a solo album when he died suddenly this year. The posthumous album features others playing melody instruments, while Hector added sound effects and atmosphere.
Jimmy Giuffre was a veteran jazz clarinettist whose career started back in the 1940s when he was part of the horn section in Woody Hermanâ€™s Band known as the Four Brothers. Breaking away to pursue a solo career leading a stripped-down line-up of just a trio, Giuffre explored the possibilities of interweaving three instruments â€“ often just electric guitar, stand-up bass and clarinet, but sometimes trombone - Giuffre achieved his pinnacle on the tune â€˜The Train and The Riverâ€™ which is recorded several times, both in the studio and live in concert at Newport (captured in the film Jazz on a Summerâ€™s Day).
Wendo Kolosoy [photo: www.digitalcongo.net ]
Wendo Kolosoy was credited with having the first hit song actually recorded in Congo (as it was then, in those Belgian colonial times) for the Nâ€™goma label. The Cuban influence that was to become the dominant strain of Congolese music is already clear. Wendo more or less disappeared as younger men like Franco and Tabu Ley Rochereau dominated Congolese music from the 1950s through to the 19809s, but Wendoâ€™s career was relaunched in the late 1990s by Christian Mousset, director of the Angouleme Festival and producer at Marabi Records. Almost yodelling, Wendo proved to be a captivating live performer.
Andy Palacio [photo courtesy www.afropop.com ]
Each of the men mentioned so far were more than halfway through what we currently consider to be a normal lifetime, but when the Belizean singer Andy Palacio died at the beginning of the year at the age of only 47, his friends and colleagues were stunned and dismayed. It felt as if he was just at the cusp of finally breaking through to worldwide acclaim, after his very impressive album Watina had won awards and been extensively played on radio shows open to music from outside the mainstream. For his producer ivan Duran, the shock was hard to bear, but he persevered to make the equally remarkable album with female Garifuna singers under the project name Umalali, which will be featured next week.
Miriam Makeba [photo: www.prospectpark.org ]
The story of the South African singer Miriam Makeba was so astonishing, it almost defies our understanding of how things work. Blessed with a voice that filled every room and touched every heart within it, Miriam was â€˜discoveredâ€™ in improbable circumstances time and again â€“ by a British documentary film-maker in apartheid South Africa; by the hugely popular and influential American singer Harry Belafonte and by the American record producer Jerry Ragovoy with whom she recorded â€˜Pata Pataâ€™ which became a dance floor anthem around the world. While not being a deliberately provocative political activist, Miriam refused to stay silent about what was happening in South Africa, whose government banished her for thirty years. When Paul Simon invited her to take part in his Graceland tour in the late 1980s, Miriam joined him and recorded the album Sangoma in Los Angeles, where she sang virtually all the parts on every song. I was lucky enough to share her company for an hourâ€™s radio programme for Capital Radio in 1988, and treasured the experience ever afterwards. Miriam still exuded the ability to communicate in very way, verbally, physically and emotionally. No wonder so many were inspired to help and support her.