The more you dig into Africa’s rich musical history, the more gold you eventually will find. This appears to be especially true when it comes to Nigeria which was home to more talent than most hemispheres. While Fela might get all the recognition, there are a lot of other guys out there that are no less deserving like Sir Victor Uwaifo. This collection, which chronicles his career in the seventies goes a long way to getting across that genius with some hand picked gems from the man.
Victor was truly a superstar and famous not only for his music, an offshoot of Highlife called Joromi, but also for his accomplishments in writing, sculpting, instrument invention and his former career as a wrestler. Not only that but he was also a Nigerian ambassador and was once the Commissioner of Culture! Born in Benin in 1941, Victor built his first guitar at the age of 12 and was awarded Africa’s first gold record for his hit song “Joromi” at the age of 18.
This masterful collection, from the always on point Soundway Records, covers Uwaifo’s Ekassa period in the early to mid seventies. He has just returned from his stint in the capital of Lagos and came hjome to start the new decade with a mixture of ancient Benini Obas music, highlife jazz and a little rock and soul to create something just as special as afro-beat, but on an entirely different tip. These were pretty rare recordings and most were unreleased until Soundway got their grubby little mitts on them, polished them up and reissued them here. Consider it a gift that they did because this music could make a suicide seem upbeat.
All this is well worth it for a guitar player who is also well known for being able to play with his feet and his tongue! Look out ladies!
There are a lot of different versions of “Haitian Fight Song” floating around out there, but none of them seem to have the same power or immediacy of the original off his 1957 album “The Clown.”
Mingus said ” It has a folk spirit, the kind of folk music I’ve always heard anyway.[...] My solo in it it’s a deeply concetrated one. I can’t play it right unless I’m thinking about prejudice and persecution, and how unfair is it. There’s sadness and cries in it, but also determination. And it usually ends with my feeling ‘I told them! I hope somebody heard me!’”
Anyways, you should buy a shit load of Mingus whenever you get the chance.
There are a lot of great DJs slash producers out there, but none of them get my vote like Mr Scruff does. Aside from putting out some amazing albums of electronic music, he is also a great illustrator, marathon DJ and tea enthusiast.
Born Andrew Carthy, Scruff started DJing in 1994 at the age of 22 around Manchester, England. His name came from his scruffy facial hair and odd cartooning style. He released his first single, “Hocus Pocus” on the small Rob’s records label. He dropped his first album “Mr Scruff” soon after, but due to some odd choices of lay out, it is often referred to as “Mrs Cruff.” Eventually he would transition over the the trip hop centric Ninja Tune label.
To be honest, you’ve probably heard of Mr Scruff even if you weren’t aware of it thanks to his big hit “Get a Move On” which was used in multiple commercials.
He is kind of considered a national treasure in England and amongst fans world-wide for his six hour or longer sets, where most DJs would only play for two or three. And his taste…where to begin? It’s hard to pin down, but I’d venture to say he likes any kind of music that’s good, which covers a lot. So a set could begin with some Orchestra Baobab and end up six hours later with some Macka B. But the musical journey in between is wonderful to say the least.
He has an avid fan club on his website too HERE, as well as a popular line of teas (yes…teas!)
But better yet, Scruff has an active Soundcloud page that you should book mark HERE, where he regularly posts new work and giant DJ sets like the ones I’ve posted below. That’s eighteen hours of music right there.
If you are savvy enough to join his fan club, you’ll receive updates, announcements and even download codes for some of said 6 hour sets…which make for excellent iPod stuffing.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been to New Orleans, but it is a magical place…as this 2009 video shows.
“Jaran ‘Julio’ Green’s homegoing in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans, La. He was 23 years old, father of a new born baby girl, killed on March 26, 2009. Loved ones danced on his casket, carried him thru his old neighborhood one last time.”
I think I need to head back to New Orleans soon. I don’t know about you, but when I go… I want my funeral to be like this.
As a bonus, here’s some footage of the Rebirth Brass Band playing in the French Quarter.
Having a good week so far since a friend emailed me with free tickets to the Further show at the Greek tonight…and its been a while since I’ve seen the Dead. And who doesn’t enjoy a miracle ticket?
Moving right along, chalk these albums up on the list of great things I have found in the bargain bin at the record store.
I had found the first volume Charlie Byrd and Stan Getz – Jazz Samba some months before, liked it and was eager to digest the sequel. The Byrd/Getz dynamic in the first volume is a great example an album that began a musical movement in the 60s. Charlie had traveled to Brazil and became completely enamored with the place and it’s music…so much so that upon his return he sat down with Stan Getz and some very talented session players and recorded an album of Brazilian tunes that would start the bossa nova craze.
It’s a great album, and one that begs to be listened to all the way through every time…with hits like Desafinado and Bahia standing out, although not so much that you’ll want to skip ahead to reach them. Let it transport you away to a magical beach on a tropical isle at sunset, where waves of melancholy coolness wash over you in the torchlight.
That, and the album really lets the light shine on Getz as one of the greatest sax men ever.
But Getz wasn’t finished, and two years later returned with “Jazz Samba Encore” featuring Luiz Bonfa, Maria Toledo and the incomparable Antonio Carlos Jobim.
Where the original album was bright and dynamic, “Encore” feels much softer in comparison…but not in a bad way. The addition of some real Brazilian stars to the line-up definitely changed the flavor of the work, but it remains as solid as it’s predecessor if not better. Getz simply took this album back to it’s roots and the quality really shows.
With it’s even greater ethereal tropical sound, “Encore” continues the journey down roads only hinted at in the first volume. Sometimes I like to have both these albums on a loop at my place while I cook…because even on loop they never get old or tired. I like ‘Saudabe vem correndo ” myself and the track above, ‘O morro nao tem vez.” So if you like jazz, bossa nova or brazillian tunes…or maybe you’re just a Stan Getz fan and don’t have these. Well, now’s your chance.