archiv of the category world music

 

an interview with Funsho Ogundipe (Ayetoro)


It’s been a while since I raved about Ayetoro’s The Afrobeat Chronicles Vol. I (The Jazz Side Of Afrobeat). And even though the album was recorded in 2003 it’s still fresh and fans of jazzy Afrobeat (or afrobeaty Jazz) should check it out. The good news is that Vol II will soon be with us (early July 2006). So here’s your chance to learn a little bit more about the man behind Ayetoro, Funsho Ogundipe, in his jazz-not-jazz interview.

Q: You’ve started quite late in your life with playing musical instruments. In fact you’ve never played the piano before you were seventeen. Please tell me how music have changed your live. Was there a certain situtation or moment when it just made click and you know music is your calling?

Funsho Ogundipe: Music has always been there. To me it was only natural.

Q: Where do you see your progress as a musician in the ten years with your band Ayetoro?

Funsho Ogundipe: Interesting. The journey is really the reward in itself. Meeting musicians from different countries and performing together is fantastic. Also learning how to be a band leader and adjusting to the different processes involved in playing live and recording albums in the stuidio. As a musician I cannot be still. I have to create. so the journey has been good for a man of my temprament.

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Ayetoro The Afrobeat Chronicles Vol. I (The Jazz Side Of Afrobeat)


Ayetoro is a Yoruba word that means world of peace. Ayetoro is also the name of a band formed in Nigeria ten years ago in 1996 by Funsho Ogundipe. Funsho has quite an interesting and unusual biography for a musician. He has never played the piano before he was seventeen and he only discovered his deep love for music while he was at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) in Nigeria. After he graduated he worked in a law firm for five years and then for the Prudent Merchant Bank (now Prudent Bank). Oddly enough one of his early encounters with a world famous musician ended in disaster. “I remember when I was in Law School, I used to hang out and go and watch Fela play at the Shrine on most Friday evening after school,” Funsho recalls. “There was this day I just walked up to him and told him that I wanted to play the piano. I was wearing a jacket, so I think I must have convinced him. At this time, I didn’t know what they were playing. I didn’t have a clue about what they were doing. So, he took me on stage and put on the piano and I succeeded in making a fool of myself because everybody laughed. I remember one of Fela’s dancers called Folake laughed at me and said ‘You this man, lawyer, Fela friend, you want turn to musician abi? Fuck off men!’ That was in 1988“.
Luckily Funsho didn’t give up then and continued to practise the piano, formed the band Ayetoro and has since then released four albums: Naija Blues (1996), Something Dey (1998), Six Thousand And A Minute (2004) and the Afrobeat Chronicles Vol. I, which was already released in 2003. Like most independently released albums the Afrobeat Chronicles Vol. I has escaped my notice back then. But as we all know there’s really no expiration date for good music. And Ayetoro’s own blend of afrobeat and jazz, with a strong emphasis on jazz on this album, is simply good music.
The album was recorded in London with no overdubs with Funsho Ogundipe (fender rhodes electric piano), Byron Wallen (trumpet), Robert Fordjour (drums), Linus Bewely (clarinet, soprano sax), Olalekan Babalola (percussion), Ayokunle Odia (tenor sax), Angela Al Hucima (percussion), Orefo Orakwue (fender jazz bass) and Curtis Shaw (guitar).
The album starts with the cheerful From Benin To Belize, a catchy tune with subtextual Latin references. Becklow Gardens (Afrofunkycool) with its tight woodwinds section is just that, afrofunkycool. One of my favourite tracks is Revenge Of The Flying Monkeys (yes, I’m always a sucker for oddly titled songs), an inspiring and danceable afrobeat song, I just wish it would last much longer than its 5:20 minutes.
Blues 4 The Earth Mother is another highlight that shows what a great band Ayetoro is and what beautiful songs Funsho writes. The album’s closer Yoruba Boyz Club can best described as afrobeat meets broken beats done with real instruments. And it features some fine fender rhodes playing by Funsho.
There’s just one letdown with this album and that is, it’s too short with five songs in less than half an hour. Especially the repetitive Yoruba Boyz Club could be a (dancefloor) monster in an extended version that could accent its trance-like qualities.
All in all The Afrobeat Chronicles Vol. I (The Jazz Side Of Afrobeat) is a great album that shows that afrobeat isn’t dead but but very much alive and it flourish if married with jazz and played by talented musicians. Highly recommendable.

Tracklisting of The Afrobeat Chronicles Vol. I (The Jazz Side Of Afrobeat): 1. From Benin to Belize/ 2. Becklow Gardens (Afrofunkycool)/ 3. The Revenge of the Flying Monkeys/ 4. Blues For the Earth Mother/ 5. Yoruba Boyz Club | released 2003 by Funsho Ogundipe

For more infos visit ayetoro.com, sternsmusic.com, cdbaby.com and Funsho’s blog.

[If you want to discuss Ayetoro’s music, you can leave your comment below and also use the forum]

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an interview with Beautiful Nubia


Following my third review of an album by Beautiful Nubia (i.e. his new album Fèrè) here’s the third jazz-not-jazz interview with the man who knows like no other how to combine food for thought with music for your feet. This time Segun Akinlolu aka Beautiful Nubia talks amongst other things about the re-recording of songs from his album Voice From Heaven, how he teamed up with Tunde Kelani to write the theme song Ikoko Akufo for the movie The Narrow Path and the risks of globalization for the African continent.

Q: Please tell me what the new album Fèrè means to you and where do you see the progress as musician, singer, songwriter compared to its predecessors?

Beautiful Nubia: I think Fere showcases the greater cohesion of the band (it’s has been the easiest album to record so far). Beyond this, there is really not much difference - we are still trying to reach people with uplifting messages while not losing sight of the need to be commercially attractive.

Q: Some of the songs are re-recordings from your Voice From Heaven album. Why did you re-record them? And in which way are they different from the original take?

Beautiful Nubia: The early recordings were done in a much different way and using fewer musicians. And since we normally play these songs at our shows and people love the new arrangements, we thought we should record them anew especially since some of them are suitable for ongoing events in the world.

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Beautiful Nubia Fèrè


Receiving Beautiful Nubia’s new album Fèrè reminded me how long I’m running this site because this is already my third review of an album by Beautiful Nubia and the Roots Renaissance Band. With reviews of Awile and Jangbalajugbu plus two interviews Segun Akinlolu has become a constant artist on this site. And again he proves that he’s a guarantor for music that moves your body with infectious afro beats and brings you food for thought.
At times, when most people seem to turn away from politics and escape into privacy (the recent local elections in three federal states of my home country Germany with less than 50% turnout are a good example of people’s unwillingness to participate in the political process) and leave politics to politicians and lobby organisations, Beautiful Nubia’s voice needs to be heard not only in his native continent Africa but all over the world. In fact his re-recording of Dear Africa, which originally appeared on his 1999’s Voice From Heaven album and has lost nothing of its relevance, could easily be re-named Dear America or Dear Europe. While neither the USA nor Europe may suffer the economical distress of most African countries there are a lot of things indicating that the ideals of Western civilisation have become a mere non-binding letter of intent, ideal as in ideational, watered down by corrupt politician who rather care for the wealth of big companies than for the wealth of the people. (”We had a dream to build a great nation/ We had a desire to rule the world/ We lost our way and we should have turned around/ But all we do is keep on going wrong/ How many more years of sorrow will come/ How many more wars will we fight?“)
Like Beautiful Nubia states in Ohun Oju Nri everyone is to blame for the failures in society (”Our leaders run around begging for help/ When the solutions are right here at home with us/ The future of the this land is in the hands/ Of every man and woman, young and old/ Everyone of us has a share in the blame for the failure of society/ See, we’re still slaves economically,/ We’re still slaves politically,/ We’re still slaves ideologically
Though he looks at society from an African point of view, I think you get the message from my previous remarks that Beautiful Nubia’s message has really a global approach of freedom, equalitiy and humanity.
Humanity and respect is also an important part of your everyday life towards your fellow men. Like it’s predecessors Fèrè offers a balanced mixture of political and personal songs. Take Ife Oloyin (Gotta Tell You) for example. Here we find a singer suddenly realizing how important a special person is in his life (”It’s such a lonely world/ Can’t find no one to trust/ You’re the only one who understands/ Wipe away your tears, just take me in your arms/ This is where I belong and I’m here to stay“).
And then there is the uptempo happy-go-lucky song What A Day, which was a party favourite when it was released on the Voice From Heaven album back in 1999. There are two more songs Beautiful Nubia has re-recorded here. Baba Eledumare and All It Takes both appeared originally on Voice From Heaven. The new version of All It Takesis a soulful song about life’s challenges and the joy one can find in his family (”I have a little son and he thinks I am great/ In his trusting eyes I see a world of love/ Said I’ve been there before, the valley of death/ And the all-seeing father says it’s okay/ So it doesn’t matter whatever they say/ I know where my destiny is taking me“).
Spirit Of A New Generation could best be described as a We Shall Overcome of this century. Merging portions of his own The People Are Ready with an old Yoruba song this is Beautiful Nubia’s uplifting hope song for a brighter tomorrow (”The people are ready, they want a better day now/ They are tired of promises and politics/ They want some reality/ The people are moving to the future with faith now/ There’s got to be a better way, a new dawn of hope/[…]/This is the spirit of a new generation - hardwork and honesty/ This is the way we will do our things now - all for one and one for all/ This is the spirit of a new generation - Courage, transparency/ This is the way we will do our things now - all for one and one for all“).
Ikoko Akufo (Lamentation For A Broken Pot) is the theme song Beautiful Nubia composed for Tunde Kelani’s movie The Narrow Path. The broken pot is actually a metaphor for a young woman who gets defilied before her wedding night.
Mama Agba’s Twilight Treat digs into Beautiful Nubia’s Yoruba heritage with combining three traditional folksongs.
With sixteen songs Fèrè has much more to offer than the above mentioned songs and I really recommend this album warmly to give you something for your head and feet you hardly find in this combination these days.

Tracklisting of Fèrè: 1. Muku-i-muku/ 2. Higher Steps (O Mbo Wa D’ero)/ 3. Eleko’Dere/ 4. Ohun Oju Nri/ 5. Ife Oloyin (Gotta Tell You)/ 6. Onile Ayo/ 7. Ikoko Akufo (Lamentation For A Broken Pot)/ 8. Tables Turn/ 9. Dear Africa/ 10. Mama Agba’s Twilight Treat/ 11. What A Day!/ 12. Mind Of Your Own/ 13. All It Takes/ 14. Spirit Of A New Generation/ 15. Baba Eledumare/ 16. Lamentation version | released 2006 EniObanke Music

For more infos visit beautifulnubia.com and cdbaby.com.

[If you want to discuss the Beautiful Nubia’s music, you can leave your comment below and also use the forum]

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Francisco Mora Catlett River Drum


This album has been released sometime in mid-2005 but was brought to my attention only recently by Phoenix from the Premier Cru Music label. And I’m very glad she told me about Francisco Mora Catlett and his label. A label, I have never heard of before, but whose name should make then a guarantor for first class music. From what I’ve heard of Premier Cru so far they really live up to their name.
Francisco Mora Catlett is a drumer/composer who’s a former member of both Sun Ra Arkestra and Max Roach’s M’ Boom Band. Fans of electro/techno/modern jazz may also know him from his collaboration with Carl Craig’s Innerzone Orchestra (Bug In The Bassbin) or from his appearance on the Sun Ra Dedication The Myth Lives On on Kindred Spirits.
River Drums is Francisco’s follow-up to World Trade Music from 1999 on the Community Projects label. And what an inspiring record it is. Francisco offers a unique blend of jazz, Latin and Afro-Cuban jazz with lots of drums (naturally!), percussion and horns. The album starts with three different versions of Afra-Jum. Hard to decide which one’s better…the first turns into a furious uptempo tour de force after five minutes, the second is on the jazzier side while the third takes on where the first version left you.
The highlight for me is the Amazona suite. The main part was released as a 12″ on Kindred Spirit in 2004 by the way. But this new version with Prelude and Epilogue gives it a new, spiritual direction picturing a day from sunrise to sunset. The Prelude features a great string quartet giving this song a welcome orchestral feeling. The main part is a joyous Brazilian dancer with Teresa G. Mora on vocals. The Epilogue marks the end of the day with its slow groove. Luckily the record doesn’t end here. The percussive Rumba Morena offers more quality music for example.
Francisco even manages it to convince me that steel drums can sound good in the right context like on Old Man Joe. His versatility can also be heard on the traditional jazz tune AJ’s Blues.
If you picked up Speak In Tones’ Subaro last year and like the Latin and percussive stuff Masters At Work and Joe Claussell do then you shouldn’t miss River Drums. And open-minded fans of Latin jazz that leaves more than enough room for improvisation and broadens musical borders must have this highly recommendable album anyway.

Tracklisting of River Drum: 1. Afra-Jum/ 2. Afra-Jum/ 3. Afra-Jum/ 4. Samba (Conga de Amor)/ 5. Amazona Prelude (Dawn) 6. Amazona/ 7. Amazona (Epilogue/Sunset)/ 8. Rumba Morena/ 9. El Morro/ 10. Old Man Joe/ 11. AJ’s Blues (for Ali Jackson)/ 12. King of Lighting (Drums Solo)/ 13. ¿Por Que Paro?/ 14. Hasta la Vista | released 2005 by Taiko Drum Music / Premier Cru Music

For more infos visit premiercrumusic.com.

[If you want to discuss Francisco Mora Catlett’s music, you can leave your comment below and also use the forum]

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Amana Melomé Indigo Red


Every once in a while there’s an artist who makes us aware that there’s only good and bad music and that putting music into genres like soul, jazz, pop or rock may be helpful everytime you enter a record store and don’t want to browse all available records or if you use categories for your reviews like I do here. Amana Melomé’s music is a good example of music that transcends musical borders with her unique blend of soul, jazz, reggae, world music, pop and even hints of rock. What sounds like music by numbers on paper, if you can find influences of most musical styles, turns into an inspiring and inimitable experience on record. Amana’s organic music is like a cornucopia of many artists we like, all rolled into one, at times she reminds me of Maiuko, Cherokee on her I Love You…Me album, Maya Azucena, Martha Redbone, Fertile Ground or Julie Dexter.
Amana was born in Germany and raised in Italy and grew up listening to all kinds of music. Both grandparents were jazz musicians and by the time Amana was a teenager she knew so many old jazz songs it surprised even her grandmother. Getting in touch with different cultures and Amana’s overall openeness for new impressions has obviously influenced Amana’s music to good effect. And she was lucky enough to find her musical alter ego in the shape of her producer Saverio ‘Sage’ Principini.
Like with all great albums it’s hard to pick a favourite song without neglecting the others. Caterpillar for example is a fine song underpinned with reggae rhythms that wouldn’t be out of place on a Fertile Ground album. Nao Falo is a summery swinging tune about an affair with someone who only speaks Portuguese while she doesn’t.
The catchy Floss Girl is a good observation of the superfluous life of a fashion victim. An instant winner for me is the jazzy and debonair Jack & Jill, a mellow tune with a fine string arrangement by the album’s producer Sage Principini. The introspective Searching For Myself and the midtempo So Glad I Found You with Lee Curreri on trombone are two more highlights. Actually I could virtually name every single track here, they are all outstanding.
If you’re looking for an album that will give you long lasting listening pleasures and that’s a litte bit different from the rest than look no further. Indigo Red, Amana Melomé’s great debut album, is the album for you.

Tracklisting of Indigo Red: 1. Intro/ 2. Caterpillar/ 3. Nao Falo/ 4. Space Age Mama Jama/ 5. Indigo Red/ 6. Floss Girl/ 7. Platonic/ 8. Encantada/ 9. Black Sheep/ 10. Hear Say/ 11. So Glad I Found You/ 12. Jack and Jill/ 13. Searching for Myself/ 14. Indigo Red (reprise)/ 15. Bella Farfalla | released 2005 Savana Records

For more infos visit amanamelome.com, savanarecords.com and cdbaby.com.

[If you want to discuss Amana Melomé’s music, you can leave your comment below and also use the forum]

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an interview with Nick Murray from LAL


LAL impressed me recently with their unique soulful and melancholic sound on their album Warm Belly High Power. If you like your music more leftfield and with a message than you really should invest some money in this album. In the meantime learn more about LAL and their music in the jazz-not-jazz interview with Nick Murray aka Murr.

Q: Your album Warm Belly High Power is available in your homecountry Canada for quite some time now. How content are you with the reactions so far?

Nick Murray: We were able to tour Canada with this record also the CBC (Canadian National Government Owned Radio) has showed us a lot of love. We are content, but we recognize the need for growth.

Q: Warm Belly High Power is your second album. Where’s the difference compared to your debut Corners and where do you see your development as artists?

Nick Murray: Corners, our first record, was all done on a Roland 880 (digital 8 track) with the new record we were able to incorporate more live players. Our new album that we are working on right now will be a combination of the minimal Hip Hop feel and the worldly elements from Warm Belly High Power.

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LAL Warm Belly High Power


I first discovered the music of Rosina Kazi and Nick Murray aka LAL via their 12″ singles Brown Eyes Warrior and Dancing The Same in May 2005. Finally the album Warm Belly High Power of this Canadian duo is available in Europe. Actually LAL already entered the scene in 1998 when their song Last Stop was included on the Metropass EP on the Public Transit label. By 2000, LAL had released their first full-length CD Corners in Canada. Their music has been remixed so far by the likes of Nick Holder, Moonstarr, Abacus, and Nu Era.
LAL’s music draws its inspiration from carefully watching contrasts, balancing political and cultural contradictions. Both musicians are children of emigrants. Rosina’s parents hail from Bangladesh and Nick’s from Barbados — both families settled near Brampton, Ontario. In their childhood both listened to their parent’s traditional music and raised themselves on local urban sounds. They both met as employees at the same record shop and finally moved in with each other and the rest is - as they say - history.
The original versions of the above mentioned singles are a good example of the sound present on this album. It’s a soulful and melancholic melange of dub, lounge, trip hop and electro, somewhere between early Massive Attack, Morcheeba, Tricky and 3 Generations Walking.
Warm Belly High Power is divided in four parts following the seasons starting with the fall and ending with the summer. And it’s one of these albums that works best as a whole with its releaxed and calm grooves and beats that provides the perfect chill out background and yet offer food for thought if you listen carefully to Rosina’s political lyrics.
Nevertheless let me pick a few songs besides the already praised Brown Eyed Warrior and Dancing The Same. Orange is a great starter for the album with its warm and slow beats softly caressing Rosina’s ethereal and melancholic voice.
Two of the songs paying tribute to Rosina’s Asian roots are Pale and Creep with their sitars and tablas and Indian sound at the beginning. For maximum Mid-Eastern sounds listen to the last part of the Bonus B.E.W., Bloodlines.
To sum it up Warm Belly High Power is a very good and interesting album with its blend of different music styles and its subtle melancholy.

Tracklisting of Warm Belly High Power: 1. Orange/ 2. Brown Eyed Warrior/ 3. Forget to Say/ 4. Pale/ 5. Creep/ 6. Saturn/ 7. Raindrops/ 8. Faithful/ 9. Musty City/ 10. Shallow Water/ 11. Dancing the same/ 12. Invincible/ 13. B.E.W. Epilogue .. Think .. Bloodlines | released September 26, 2005 Public Tranist Records

For more infos visit ptrmusic.com, lalforest.com and grooveattack.com.

[If you want to discuss LAL’s music, you can leave your comment below and also use the forum]

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Nublu Records 10″ Sampler


The 10″ format still has the nimbus of being something special of all the records formats available. This 10″ from Nublu Records is no exception to that rule. Nublu is a music lounge/bar in NYC’s East Village established in 2002 by Illhan Ersahin. To take it to the next stage Illhan celebrates the launch of Nublu Records with this 10″ sampler that gives a taste of what to expect from his label.
Let’s Finish What We Started by Kudu features the vocal duties of Sylvia Gordon and is an uptempo electro track reminiscent of 80s electro-funk bands like Cabaret Voltaire, early Human League or Heaven 17. A full length album will follow on October 25th, 2005.
Hard Livin’ by Love Trio In Dub feat. U-Roy is an interesting fusion between North African/Maghreb sounds and Jamaican Dub with U-Roy on vocals and Illhan Ersahin himself on saxophone. Hard Livin’ is lifted from an album that will be released October 4th, 2005.
Forro In The Dark Feat. Seu Jorge with Suor De Pele Fina is my favourite tune on this 10″. This is a great uptempo modern-Brazil meets World Music song. Suor De Pele Fina will also be released on a 12″ on September 13th, 2005.
Our Theory deliver the fourth track named Nu, which sounds very, er, modern. Actually that’s the one track here that looses me between it’s way too fast beats and staccato rhythm. But if you’re into speedy and furious electro-tech-jazz than this is the tune for you. An album by Our Theory is scheduled for a release on October 4th, 2005.
All in all an interesting and musical diverse offering by the new founded label Nublu Records.

Tracklisting of Nublu Records 10″ Sampler: Kudu: Let’s Finish What We Started/ Love Trio In Dub Feat. U-Roy: Hard Livin’/ Forro In The Dark Feat. Seu Jorge: Suor De Pele Fina/ Our Theory: Nu | released 2005 by Giant Step / Nublu Records

(for more infos visit giantstep.net, nublu.net and kudu2u.com)

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album reviews by Jon Freer


Courtesy of Jon Freer from mosoul.co.uk here are three reviews of just released and upcoming Various Artists compilations (sorry no cover shots or tracklistings this time):

V/A – The Original House Selection (The Original Selection)

Put together Ian ‘Mastercuts’ Dewhurst, ‘The Original Selection’ is a collection of classy well-known and obscure House tracks from yesteryear. With Dewhurst at the helm, there’s no need to doubt the quality of the music on show, however, generally, the rejigs of Disco numbers on disc one aren’t quite of the same standard as the classic House material. Highlights of the first CD include Mr. Fingers’ life-enriching synth addled “Can You Feel It” and of the discoid material, Mousse T & Boris Dlugosch’s desirable guitar bassed refix of First Choice’s “The Player” is the finest. Disc two is the deeper of the pair, with celebrated breath-catching cuts appearing alongside a tribute to Todd Terry, (the Brooklyn sample don weighs in with six tracks), and a few slightly bland cuts. Ace deep numbers include the arresting “Your Love” from Franke Knuckles, and Todd’s prime offering is Black Riot’s “A Day in The Life”, where pseudo-rave synths and warmth filling keys are battered by thumped percussion and squealing whistles. Masterful.

V/A – Africa Remix (Milan)

This is not a compilation of remixes of tracks from the beleaguered continent, but in fact a top quality CD accompaniment to a contemporary afrocentric art exhibition of the same name. The tracks come from a variety of African artists and represent the diversity of the landmass, showcasing those who make traditionally inspired and cutting-edge music. Tatouages presents us with “Silence, on rêve”, where summery guitars are joined by a chorus of melodious vocals. On the Remix of Oumou Sangare’s “Djarolen”, a graceful stringed instrument is draped over mournful sounding vocals and headnodding hopped beats. There is a tangible brightness to the guitar and drums on Manecas Coasta’s “Paraiso di Gumbe”, despite the fact that the vocals deal with a difficult subject matter; the death of Costa’s sister. Perhaps Geldof should have listened to these voices, before planning the musical travesty that was Live 8, where primarily aged white musicians patted each other on the back for putting on such a ‘worthy’ series of concerts.

V/A – DJ Sneak: House of Om (Om)

Bumpin’ groovesome House is the flavour of this Mix CD from Carlos Sosa, once king of abusively filtered and cut up diskoid House grooves. Sneak has somewhat refined his sound over the years, and this comp represents what housey flavours are currently pushing his buttons. Lawnchair Generals “The Truth” as remixed by DJ Sneak himself is an energetic cut, with nervous keys, floor-gazing synths and an athletic bassline. No Assembly Firm bring us “Acid Attack”, where a pressurized bass and rough beats fight the obstacles in their path. Mike’s Garage mix of “This Belongs To You” by the Inland Knights loops up a dejected sounding sax over rolling synths, shocked strings and opn point beats. Butt shakin’ stuff…

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Speak In Tones Subaro


Simply awesome, incredible and irresistible! If you want the dance grooves of remixes by Osunlade, Joe Claussell, Ron Trent or Masters At Work combined with fierce percussion we haven’t heard since Candido and the spirituality of Alice Coltrane’s records plus the hipness of a Spiritual Life record all thrown together in an album that takes you on a real musical journey through jazz and world music’s intersection then look no further than Speak In Tones and their double album Subaro.
Subaro means “evening conversation” in the West-African Bambara dialect of Mali. And the band’s name derive from the saying “speak in tones baby!” when a new comer arrives on the band wagon. Speak In Tones was also the name of a concert and jam session series Mike Ellis founded with Daniel Moreno (you may know him from various Spiritual Life releases or from his collaboration with Roy Hargrove for the RH Factor on Hard Groove and the Strength EP) at 56 Walker in Tribeca/Manhattan/NYC.
With 21 musicians (you can find more infos about some of them by clicking on the links listed below) contributing to this splendid double album and the use of such diverse instruments as tamburas, tablas, whistles, udus, pandeiros, marimbaus, flutes, saxes, djembes, guitars, trumpets etc Speak In Tones represents a modern big band. The concept of Speak In Tones is to have no concept but to let the creative juices flow and go back to what jazz music is really about: improvisation and having fun with your fellow musicians.
The result transcends musical borders and fuses jazz, free jazz, brazilian music, world music, afro or whatever you may call it into a unique sound. And it’s this improvisation factor that gives Speak In Tones a hypnotic sound. Imagine a voodoo session in your home without sacrificed animals and a repetitive yet fascinating groove that not only pleases the orishas but your very own body, mind and soul and that lets you fall into a trance. The epic Bahia By Night, Subaro Part II or Trilogia Nordestina are good examples of this kind of groove.
While the first disc is more on the uptempo side the second disc start things a little bit slower and offers a relaxing, chilling sound (similiar to what Bah Samba did with their 4 album). Ayahuasca (btw the name of a strong Amazonian hallucinogen) finds Daniel Moreno on the udu (meaning “clay pot” in the Ibo language) in great interaction with Antoine Roney on tenor sax.
Interesting is the story behind Lamento, meaning Lament, which is inspired by not based on the John Coltrane composition Lonnie’s Lament, which Antoine Roney and Daniel Moreno were discussing prior to this recording. Lamento features an impressive sax solo by Antoine with only sparse percussion by Daniel.
With 21 songs on offer and nearly two and a half hour of music with not one bad track, it’s hard to recommend a particular song, but you may have guessed it from the review so far, that Subaro works best being played from start to finish.
Subaro is already one of my favourite albums of the year and with its timeless quality will certainly stay a favourite for a long time.

Tracklisting of Subaro:
Disc 1: 1. Douson Foly/ 2. Bahia by Night/ 3. Subaro Part 1/ 4. Subaro Part 2/ 5. Umkathi/ 6. Los Indios/ 7. Trilogia Nordestina part 1/ 8. Trilogia Nordestina part 2/ 9. Trilogia Nordestina part 3/ 10. Ilha do Tarturuga/ 11. Elements
Disc 2: 1. Deusa do Ebona/ 2. Ayahuasca/ 3. Douson Foly take 2/ 4. Mali Overdrive/ 5. Oracao/ 6. Samba Low Rider/ 7. Jacare/ 8. Speak in Tones/ 9. Lamento/ 10. Boca do Rio
released 2005 by Alpha Pocket Records

For more infos visit speakintones.com, alphapocket.com, danielmoreno.com, mikeellismusic.com, cheick-tidiane-seck.com, m-base.com/g_haynes.html, bourelly.com, dreamboxmedia.com, free.freespeech.org/birareis, metarecords.com/adam.html, and cdbaby.com.

[If you want to discuss Speak In Tones’ music, you can leave your comment below and also use the forum]

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an interview with Beautiful Nubia


Jazz-not-jazz proudly presents an interview with Beautiful Nubia in the wake of the review to his recent album Awilele.

Q: How does it feel having had a great success with your last album Jangbalajugbu, which sold over 250,000 copies in Nigeria. And how important is it for you that this happened in your home country?

Beautiful Nubia: It fills me with a remarkable sense of achievement especially since our music is not really what you’d describe as popular music. Early on in my career, some self-styled experts in the Nigerian music industry told me I needed to soften and reduce my words if I wanted to make headway in the industry since Nigerians don’t want to hear too many serious words. Well, I am glad they have been proved wrong now. Nigerians are loving this music more and more and the quantity of copies sold per month hasn’t slowed down at all (it sells at an average of 25,000 per month). Since January this year, we have sold another 60,000 copies and I believe that is how it will continue to sell for many years to come because the message is timeless, new and younger generations will discover it as they grow up, it’s going to become part of the rites of passage to adulthood for generations to come. What more can a creative artist ask for? There’s a lot to celebrate in these modest numbers because most albums produced in Nigeria do not reach such sales marks, either as a result of poor distribution or piracy. But then when you look at the huge market (140 million people!), well, this is just a tip of the iceberg.
More importantly, though, is the fact that we are getting across to large numbers of people in a land where our message of individual and group rebirth is urgently needed to inspire change, hope, and courage. Every day I receive, on the average, fifty e-mails from people around the world, especially from Nigeria, thanking us for the uplifting words and the pride with which we project our culture in the music. This is worth more than a million sales.

Q: Please describe where do you see your development as an artist with the release of Awilele compared to its predecessors.

Beautiful Nubia: Every new album is a platform of celebration for me. Awilele, my fourth album, represents another level in the evolution of the music of Beautiful Nubia. With the acceptance of each album, our voice gets stronger, bolder and more focused. In the unprecedented success of Jangbalajugbu we found greater strength to remain on our chosen course and with Awilele, we hope to prove to everyone that we are here to stay, we are for real, and we actually believe in all the strong, positive messages we have been churning out over the years.

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Beautiful Nubia Awilele


If you’re a frequent visitor of jazz-not-jazz, you may recall my rave review for Jangbalajugbu by ‘Segun Akinlolu aka Beautiful Nubia and the interview on this website.
Released independently, Jangbalajugbu was very successful, selling over 250,000 copies in Nigeria. And regarding Beautiful Nubia’s political conscious lyrics this makes his success even better than just judging the sheer number of copies sold. Since this proves that there is obvious are market for music that not only moves your body but offers you food for thought as well.
It’s good, that Beautiful Nubia still continues his mission of addressing drawbacks in everyday life and in the political life with his new album Awilele. The musical world really needs a conscious voice like his.
Like his previous albums Awilele was recorded full analogue giving it a rough, pristine feeling.
In these trying times the song Awilele has a real global approach. Beautiful Nubia says “This is a call to people to awake from their lethargy and speak out against bad leadership and the ills in their society.” With neocons in power in most western society and politicians, who are more interested to fill their own pockets and fulfill lobbyist’s desires instead of their voters’ wishes, bad leadership isn’t happening in Africa only.
Matters Arising is, again, a song with a universal meaning, warning us against “greed, selfishness and religious extremism/…/ And you, now you are in a position of power, you’ve forgotten your history and responsibility/ living the wasteful life of the affluent while children of the poor root in garbage for their daily bread/ True friendship and love is hard to find here, there is so much bigotry, so much hatred, how can there be progress in the midst of all this?

So is there any hope in Beutiful Nubia’s music that things get better you may ask? There is, most songs have a more uptempo vibe giving the afore-mentioned Awilele for example a positive musical background. And then there are songs in which ‘Segun tells us how important a well-working community can be, a community, that respects the elderly (Awon Agba), to whom you can turn when you need insight and advise. A community, where you’re not afraid to ask your mother when you’re in trouble (Ominira). Preserving and evolving such a community wouldn’t work if you don’t teach your children their roots (E Ko’mo L’ede “Please teach the children our language/ Please teach the children our culture/ Please tell them our stories/ Please clothe them in our native dress“). Listening to Oke Bola, an homage to Beautiful Nubia’s past, it sounds like he had had this great and peaceful community then.

There’s much more food for thought here like O Ya O!, which again is a call to people not to let politicians run one’s life but to take a stand for their desires, or Come Warrior, that plays on a Yoruban metaphor that life is war. And there’s also happy-go-lucky dance song (S’o wa Pa?).

Beautiful Nubia has also released three volumes of poetry, a novel, writes and arranges his songs, speaks English and Yoruba, and plays acoustic guitar and percussions, which makes him a modern Renaissance man in some ways.

Awilele is another fine example of Beautiful Nubia’s creative powers and of modern African music with a meaning.

Tracklisting of Awilele: 1. Intro - Iba F’Olojo/ 2. Awilele/ 3. S’o Wa Pa?/ 4. Ominira/ 5. E K’omo L’ede/ 6. Ma Fo’ya/ 7. Come, Warrior/ 8. Awon Agba/ 9. Matters Arising/ 10. Oke Bola/ 11. Each Time You Turn/ 12. Oruko Rere/ 13. Lekeleke/ 14. O Ya O! | released 2004 on EniObanke Music

For more infos visit beautifulnubia.com and cdbaby.com. You can also read an interview with Beautiful Nubia here.

[If you want to discuss Beautiful Nubia’s music, you can leave your comment below and also use the forum]

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Beautiful Nubia


Thanks to Katherine Cole from Beautiful Nubia’s management in Canada we will soon review his new album Awilele. In the meantime you can listen to some sound snippets on cdbaby.com, visit beautifulnubia.com, or just read the review we wrote for his Jangbalajugbu album.

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