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Staff Benda Bilili, 11 Dec

PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2009 5:28 pm
by Charlie
1 - Bulawayo Sweet Rhythms Band - Skokiaan - Bulawayo Jazz - Zimbabwe - Sharpwood - B000GHJSX0

2 - Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba - Torin Torin - Africa express presents - Mali - Puma - AE001

3 - Odadewethu - Ngiyagula - Kuyaoxaban' Amadoda - South Africa - Gallo/Warner - 5051865-1745-5-4

In session
Staff Benda Bilili Montana Kinunu (drums) - Cavalier Kiara (bass)
Coco Ngambali (vocal, guitar) - Ricky Likabu ((vocals)
Roger Landu (Satongé, vocals) - Kabose Kabamba (vocals)
Theo Nsituvuidi (vocals) -
4 - Staff Benda Bilili - Muziki - Live in session - DR Congo

5 - Staff Benda Bilili - Monto Moindo - Live in session - DR Congo

Turntable Tennis with Michel Winter (selections noted *)

6 - Taraaf de Haidouks - Balada Conducatorolui - Musiques des Tziganes de Roumanie - Romania - Crammed Discs - CRAW 2

*7 - Fela Kuti & Africa 70 - Zombie - Zombie - Nigeria - Wrasse - Wrass 048

8 - Goran Bregovic - Hop Hop Hop - Best of Goran Bregovic - Bosnia/Serbia - Wrasse - WRAss 241

*9 - Musiciens du Nil - Aamedat el Karnak - Egypte, Vol 1 - Egypt - Ocora - CX2394

10 - Mohamed Ilyas - Panya - Taarab - Zanzibar - Chiku-Taku - CHITa 01

*11 - Jimi Hendrix - Red House - The Ultimate Experience - USA - Polydor - 517 235 2

12 - Ivo Robic - S Magaricem Na Povratku (Muli Song) - Ivo Robic: The Platinum Collection - Croatia - Croatia - 2CD 5706526

*13 - Kasai All Stars - Quick and White - In the 7th moon…. - DR Congo - Crammed Discs - CRAW 44

In session

14 - Staff Benda Bilili - Marguerite - Live in session - DR Congo

15 - Staff Benda Bilili - Staff Benda Bilili - Live in session - DR Congo

16 - Blue Asia - Kun-nu-shu - Sketches of Myahk - Japan - Vivid Sound - VSCD 9692

17 - Fat Freddy's Drop - Pull The Catch - Dr Boondigga & The Big B.W. - New Zealand - Fat Freddy's drop - DRP013CD

This session was held on a Monday morning in the Radio Theatre at Broadcasting House, to accommodate fire regulations that precluded use of the 8th floor studio because of the difficulties of quickly moving five musicians confined to wheel chairs. The engineers chose to line up the band facing the empty auditorium, which meant that the musicians and I missed the eye-to-eye contact we could have enjoyed if they had been turned to face towards the table where I sat at my CD decks. As ghr Ping Pong giest, Band manager MIchel Winter sat opposite me with his back to the band. Radio 3 producer Roger Short sat fara wy ifrom all of us in a make-shift studio at the back of the auditorium. A tecvhnical fault meant that he could not hear me if I tried to speak t him on 'talk back'. This fault caused a dela of eevetal hours at the start of the recording session. I did not understand the precise nature of the problem, as I could hear the producer very clearly in my talk back headphones an was unaware that he could not hear me

The accidental result of the stage set-up was that all my eye contact was with the three able bodied musicians. Drummer Randy ‘Montana’ Buda improvises his drum kit from whatever materials are available, in this case a drawer turned on its end, whose bottom is hit with a conventional bass drum pedal. A couple of bongos plus a tiny cymbal are fixed to the top, and he uses conventional drum sticks. Regardless of the ingredients of his kit, Montana is a remarkable drummer, as became even clearer when watching the band play the following night at the Barbican.

Bass player Cavalier was at the heart of everything, looking like a black cowboy in his big hat. Closest to me stood teenager Roger Landu, playing his home-made invention, the satongé, whose sound box is an empty milk powder can joined to a bit of wicker basket, from the end of which a metal guitar string connects back to the tin. He plucks the string and a distinctive sound emerges, changing its note as he squeezes the wicker with the other hand.

As the audience filed out of the Barbican a day or two later, there was much discussion about the role of the satongé, with several people grumbling that it had been too loud and piercing. On the group’s album, and on this radio session, the satongé’s vital role is much clearer – without it, this would be just another pretty good rumba group in the style established long ago by Franco’s Orchestra TP OK Jazz. With the addition of the satongé, we have that precious commodity, a band with a unique sound of its own, instantly recognisable and irresistibly infectious. Three singers take turns to sing lead, sometimes switching within a song, and backing each other up on the choruses.

In between the performances by the band, tMichel Winter and I played Radio Ping Pong.. As Michel explained, he grew up in Israel, but has been based in Belgium throughout his career as manager of various bands, starting with the Romanian group Taraaf de Haidouks back in 1991, and most of them released on the Belgian label, Crammed Discs.

A couple of things were not made clear during the programme, including the meaning of the band’s name: Staff Benda Bilili translates approximately as ‘Look beyond first appearances’, and it would have been better if I had mentioned this. Also, the role of producer Vincent Kenis should have been stressed more strongly. In a long association with Crammed Discs, Vincent has been their man in the field, discovering and producing bands including Konono Number One and Kasai All-Stars, whose potential would almost certainly not have been apparent to other people.

I have never worked from scripts, and for the management at Radio 3 my loose improvisational style can sometimes be frustrating and/or inadequate. A disastrous outcome this week was that a track was removed from the programme after its completion, the first such occasion in my 37 years on the radio. The track in question was 'SPasticus Autisticus' by Ian Dury which I had played straight after SBB's song 'Polio' earlier in the year. This time, just before playing Dury's clever and powerful song again (ahead of an imminent live song by the band. Speaking in English off the mic (and unearrd by ytyhthe distant producer), I asked Michel to explain to he band who Ian Dury was and what this song was about. Michel turned round and spoke to them in French. My instinct was that this excchange would have sounded laborious to the radio audience.

A week l ater, I leaarneedthat a middlle manager at Radio 3had required the removal of 'Spasticus Autisticus' on the grounds that it was not clear to to the radio audience that the Congolese musicians would have understood why I was playing it.This middle manager did not call me up to make this point, which would have enabled me to explain the reality. I began to feel very upset and even very ill as I grappled in my head with this infuriating situation. Surely , this represented a misunderstanding and misinterpretation of what the BBC Compliance regulations were intended to achieve.


World on 3 is broadcast every Friday night at 11.15 pm (23.15) on BBC Radio 3, and is online for the following seven days at

Next week, my session guests will be Fat Freddy’s Drop, the group from New Zealand who have finally released an album that matches their capabilities. They play four songs live in the studio. The Radio Ping Pong guest will be Jon Lusk, one of the three co-editors of the Rough Guide to World Music, whose updated and revised Third Edition covers Europe, Asia and the Pacific.h

Staff Benda Bilili - comments

PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2009 1:18 pm
by Charlie
email from Liz Molony:

What a treat this intro to Staff Benda Bilili – wasn't expecting the rumba rhythms. Great timbre to the voice of lead singer in 'Moto Moindo', and that wild 'Marguerite.'

I liked the weird dreamlike 'Les Colonnes De Karnak', Musiciens Du Nil, and the power in 'Kasai All Stars'. Great title!!

Glad you keep returning to Blue Asia's works.

I had to laugh hearing SKOKIAAN again after all these years. We were young children in the late 40’s / 50’s living in Bulawayo, and I remember being excited by its happy rhythms, and the knowledge that Skokiaan was the name given to the strong illicit home brews sold at informal drinking places in crowded urban areas.[pronounced ‘Skoky-yarn’.] Did you know Louis Armstrong met Musarurwa in November 1960 with an invitation to visit America, sadly he couldn’t accept.