Archive for the 'International' Category


songs everyone should own: grace jones – la vie en rose (rockamerica remix)

It’s  a damn shame that most people have no idea how awesome Grace Jones was, beyond being known as the crazy chick from that Conan movie.

This is a song that could help change that.



sir victor uwaifo – guitar boy superstar 1970-76

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!

On Itunes HERE.

On Amazon HERE…$8.99!



mixes everyone should hear: amerigo gazawa – fela soul

This is so genius that I am smacking the side of my head right now for not thinking of it sooner.

Gummy Soul artist Amerigo Gazawa took a slew of Fela Kuti samples and mashed them up with a handpicked selection of De La Soul accapellas to create “Fela Soul.” 8 tracks and 33 minutes of musical awesome sauce. Here’s what the man had to say:

“I came up with the concept for this project in fall of 2010. I wanted to follow through with it not only because it was a good idea, but because of the powerful impact both these artists have had on me and my music. Afrobeat, jazz, funk, and hip-hop are already so interconnected, and I always thought it would be exciting to work on a project that combined all of these elements together.”

“I hope this project will help to bridge the gap between hip-hop and afrobeat, and serve an introduction for hip-hop fans and music fans alike who are unfamiliar with Fela Kuti or De La Soul’s music.”

-Amerigo Gazaway

So if you are having a shit week, and you were quietly asking yourself what could possibly make things better AND you also had a deep love of both Afro-Beat and De La Soul…well then, dear listeners, this one goes out to you!

And do you know what puts the cherry on top of this musical sundae?  It’s fucking free!

That’s right, thank you internets…free music for all!  Download it HERE.  You will need to sign up your email for the Gummy Soul mailing list, but the worst thing that could happen is that they send you music news and maybe more mixtapes.


songs everyone should own: serge gainsbourg & brigitte bardot – bonnie and clyde

A lot of folks avoid any music that they can’t understand the words too.

In doing so, they miss out on giants like Serge Gainsbourg and hits like these.

This shit never gets old.


emahoy tsegué-maryam guèbrou – piano solo

The thing I’m enjoying most about the internet these days is that there is so much more out there.  A few years ago, when I started AESO, it was a real bitch finding videos to go with my posts because no one had posted any.  I’d look for something for “Rod Stewart – Every Picture Tells a Story” and come up with zilch.  Then  I would have to post a track on a file sharing service and link that instead…and it sucked.

Now, it seems like everything has a video now ….except for Paul Desmond.  😦

And I was surprised the other day to spot my girl Emahoy Guèbrou up an Youtube now as well.

Now I usually don’t play a lot of classical music but Emahoy’s music really doesn’t seem to fit that category either.  The best word I can use to describe it is “haunting.”

Born in Ethiopia in 1923, Emahoy was sent to Switzerland with her sister where she studied violin and piano. In 1937, she and her family were captured by the Italians and sent to a POW camp off the coast of Italy. After the war, she continued her studies in Cairo before returning to Ethiopia and eventually becoming the Imperial Bodyguard’s Band music director…at the request of Emperor Haile Selassie.  At age 19 she left her home to enter a monastery where she continued to compose music for violin, piano and organ…often for more than 9 hours a day.

She released her first album in 1967, with the Emperors help, with all proceeds going to help orphans of the Italio-Ethiopian War.  But in 1984 she was forced to flee her home country because of the repressive view of the new Socialist Government.  She moved to Jerusalem where she continued her work, making awesome music that no one had ever heard before.

Her music is unique in that it draws upon 3000 years of Ethiopian history and music and mixes it with contemporary styles to arrive at something between classical and jazz.  She is in her late eighties now and is still knocking out new tunes. This album is just one of those amazing works, full of melancholy and longing that kind of stays with you long after listening.  This is the only album I could find of hers, a compilation released as part of the amazing Ethiopiques series of CDs . The whole series is awesome and if you are interested in more music from that region, I highly recommend them, as each volume highlights another incredible artist.

The CD is a little pricey, but the mp3 download is only $9. Go get it!


songs everyone should own: adriano celentano – prisencolinensinainciusol

New feature! Each week I’ll spotlight some slice of awesome in the realm of singles. First up? Prisencolinensinainciusol by Adriano Celentano. I have no idea what the overly long title means, but I believe it’s dirty. Adriano is a huge pop star in Italy as well as a comedian, actor, director and TV host…and he really likes Elvis. This track has been a favorite in my arsenal for years. People always charge the booth to find out what it is…and now you know.


Ozomatli – ST


I don’t go out to see bands that often…at least not as often as I should.  So when I got invited to check out the house band:  Ozomatli at Club Dragonfly back in the late 90’s, I almost didn’t go.

Luckily it was a couple of hot girls who invited me, so I ended up going anyways.  I had no idea who Ozomatli was and, if nothing else, I figured if I’d just sat through the band I might get some action.

Well, I never got any action since the girl I was hitting on wouldn’t stop bringing up her ex-boyfriend.  But what I witnessed on stage that night was nothing short of magic.  It’s only happened a few times in my life, where you see a group perform and say to yourself “Holy Shit!  These guys are going to be big!”  I think the only other occasion was seeing the early incarnation of the Black Eyed Peas…pre-Fergie.

I even bought a CD right then and there.

Let me break Ozo’s set down for you. The house lights go down, the house DJ shuts off the music and the band begins to play.  But not on stage.  No, the band starts off on the back patio.  Every member is playing a horn, banging a drum or shaking a shaker.  The whole group winds it’s way though the club, through the crowd to the stage as they play before they all take their places and explode into their first song.  They play an amazing set of pure Los Angeles Latin sounds, then make their way back out into the crowd where they form a drum circle of sorts and keep playing for another song or two with the whole crowd going nuts around them.  What’s even better is that I’ve seen them numerous times over the past ten years and they still do the crowd thing.

That only makes me love them more.

The band takes their name from the Aztec god of dance, fire, the new harvest and music…which is fitting considering their multi racial line up and sound. Originally formed to play at a labor protest, the band took in all the sounds of Los Angeles: Hip hop, Latin, rock, reggae, funk, salsa and cumbia to name a few.

If LA needed a band as diverse as it was, Ozomatli was it.

The six core members of the band are Asdru Sierra (lead vocals, trumpet), Raul Pacheco (lead vocals, guitar, tres, jarana), Justin Poree (rap vocals,percussion), Wil-dog Abers (bass, backing vocals), Jiro Yamaguchi (tabla, percussion, backing vocals) and Ulises Bella (sax, clarinet, requinto jaracho, keyboards, backing vocals). (Thanks WIKI!) From album to album though, the lineup fluxuates from anywhere from seven to ten members, with members and elements added and subtracted like a tide.

The line up I got to see in the beginning included Jurassic 5 members Chali 2-Na and Cut Chemist…both of whom left after the first album to pursue J5 related requirements. But even with the loss or gain of musicians, the band’s tone remained the same. They still rock the house, they’re still keeping up the social commentary and they’re still working hard to bring you the funk.  And the members who leave all seem to make a return sooner or later. The band’s website says they’re touring with Chali 2-Na again this spring.

That’s saying a lot considering how many acts simply fall apart after the loss of a few members, or how often the members leaving do so under negative terms.  But once you experience the energy that Ozomatli brings to the table, it’s kind of hard to imagine it being otherwise.

The CD I bought of the drummer on stage that night was simply a taste of the full length CD to come…simply titled Ozomatli. Filled with everything I mentioned above, it’s a party soundtrack for the kind of party where everyone wants to talk politics as much as they want to dance…and find a way to do both.

Even if you don’t like latin music, or listening to lyrics in spanish, this is the kind of album that might just convert you over.



%d bloggers like this: