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OLD WORLD (inc Asia, Arabia)

African Discographies

Greetings, Platterbugs!

Updated 1 November 2023

News re Bandcamp

Too good to last: the notion of a well-curated website that was easy to navigate, generous in sharing music with listeners, and also in giving the bulk of profits to the labels and artists. A nice dream, but now corporate thugs have started strip-mining BANDCAMP and the future doesn't look good. On top of that they fired the union-organizers. story here... this could be the end of bandcamp, as we know it

Meanwhile, check out this Leon Keita reissue, a dancefloor special from Analog Africa

"La Musique Du Cœur," a single from Magg Tekki by Assiko Golden Band de Grand Yoff (Senegalese, heavy on the percussion, with added horns)

Ibantuta is a traveler with an oud who went along the Silk Road for a year, visiting 14 countries and jamming with locals, producing a nicely woven-together set

Classic highlife sound, but new from Okwy Osadebe

Tony Pitt picks Les Amazones d'Afrique

Charting Toureg music from Al Bilali Soudan of Tombouctou

Rai meets disco

Uptown funk from Oakland, but billed as Balkan Bump

from Albarika Stores' vaults, more afrobeat from Poly-Rythmo, coming at the end of the month

Novalima (Peru) visit the palenque


Les Aunties are a musical force from Chad. Check out their latest video single: "Anina yatu" — and an earlier video is also worth a view: "Kla Nga"

Well-done hour-long documentary on the arrival of Motown in Britain


Next year I'm hoping to see more bands than obituaries of my favourite artists... — Nick in Manchester

Bamundele Rigobert, a.k.a. Rigo Star, ace guitarist, died age 68. He was a founding member of Viva la Musica and later joined l'Afrisa International, before going solo and working with Mbilia Bel, Madilu System, Josky, Kanda Bongo Man and many others. For the last 20 years he has been gigging in Paris and Cartagena, Colombia with local, Congolese and Afro-Colombian musicians.

Latest Muzikifan Podcasts

(Note: The muzikifan podcasts are hosted
on Soundcloud; please subscribe on their site)

Such is Bliss featuring jazz, dub, music
from India and Pakistan, plus Congo oldies

Intangible cultural heritage of Congo with
music from the Congo, and guest Jerome Ogola

Crazy Baldheads, features the new re-
leases below, plus a tribute to Rigo Star,
reggae, Latin music and more

DIRE (Mieruba)

Idrissa Soumaoro’s Diré hearkens back to the classic age of Malian guitar-slingers in the mould of Ali Farka Touré. Diré is the destination of the album, the place where Soumaoro met his wife and settled for a while. Back in the 1970s this was a lovely peaceful spot, he recalls, and of course he doesn't need to remind us of the now-dire straits the country is in. His repertoire comes from the hunter's clan, and he also plays the traditional donso n'goni, associated with those Bambara musicians. Over his long life he has also absorbed influences from every other kind of music he has come into contact with, including rumba, salsa, country, R&B, but in addition to the guitar we hear flute and balafon which ground us in the arid desert of the Sahel and the uniquely West African blues sound. Growing up he borrowed a guitar and tuned it to the sound of the n'goni, as he understood the pentatonic scale better. In his teens he appeared on television, performing his own composition "Ancien Combattant," which was covered by Zao, a Congolese singer, and became a big hit. But Soumaoro kept his day job, teaching, sometimes gigging at night with les Ambassadeurs du Motel alongside Salif Keïta and Kanté Manfila. He also met Amadou Bakayoko, the blind guitarist, and relocated to the Institute for the Blind in Bamako to teach there and help raise awareness of the needs of the blind community. There he started a group called Eclipse including some of his blind students. His own solo career did not begin until 20 years ago, in his 50s; he created another hit when a song he performed with Ali Farka Touré was featured in the film Black Panther. But now Soumaoro gets the full spotlight to showcase his bluesy guitar and smooth vocals, with support from Yao Dembele on bass and organ, Yvo Adadi on drums and percussion, Cheick Diallo on flute, Bouramani Kouyate on second guitar, plus balafon (on "Don't worry," sung in English) and n'goni, played by Mohamadou Dramé. His n'goni playing is outstanding on "N'den tedi." The albums ends with "Yele," which I think is a cover of an Ambassadeurs song; Amadou Bakayoko makes a guest appearance on this track.

AFRICAN MUSIC (La Timba 2000)

This compilation contains old-style Senegalese salsa from two artists, Maestro Keita and Camou Yandé, with a bonus track thrown in by Maguette Ndione, "El Divorcio," which was on her 2009 Homage to Labba Sosseh album. These are all familiar numbers, in fact right at the start we hear "El Carretero," which must be the first tune every Senegalese salsero learns. I think it always works well with the sabar drums. In addition there is piano and violin, perfect charanga components, though otherwise alien to Senegalese music. If you like Star Band, Baobab, No 1 and other classic Latin cover bands from Dakar in the 60s and 70s, you will dig this. My favorite compilations in this genre are Soneros et Salseros du Senegal, which came out on Bellot Records in 2005, and the older Escale au Senegal (a French release, from the 90s, compiled by Richard Dick.) There is no info online about Maestro Keita: he could be the Malian singer Léon Keita or his brother Germain. There's an Ivorien release on Papa Disco from 1978, which might be a link. Based on their voices and a youtube live video from 2015, it's clear these are veterans of the golden days who have been keeping the flame burning of this once-ubiquitous Cuban sound in West Africa. When Camou Yandé’s "African Salsa" came on I knew I had heard this before. I checked the obvious source, Los Afro-Salseros’ two CDs on Popular African Music where "African Salsa" appears, but actually it was on a third PAM disc, Nicolas Menheim & le Super Sabador’s Commandante Che Guevara, where I found him. Camou Yandé is credited as conguero and lead vocalist on two tracks. He also covers Super Cayor’s "Capitale." The various backing bands are solid, with neat horn solos, decent montuno piano styling and of course great congas and timbales.


Even if you are from Barranquilla, Colombia, chances are you don't remember this group! Founded in 1975, they recorded two albums. The founders were Mike Char, a radio DJ who wrote songs, and "El Caballo" Carazo, a singer whose band El Afrocombo had just folded. Their passions were Puerto Rican plena and of course the globally popular salsa sounds of New York. Char had become friends with Fruko, the musician and arranger, and was adept at taking foreign songs, refashioning the lyrics and creating a new musical setting for them, usually as an uptempo cumbia (two are found here). It's a studio album, with various guests including Joe Arroyo on coro, plus members of Los Tesos and La Revelación. It's not long until they start feeling it, and by the third track, a cover of Eddie Palmieri's "Mi cumbia," they are rocking. Bomba meets New York style pachanga on "El la Oscuridad," with punchy horns in counterpoint to the piano. "El Despertar" is a pop song that takes a radical turn into a salsa jam with a great montuno, but goes into a long fade, as if they ran out of ideas of where to take it. The original album ends with another raver, a cover of "El Negro Bembón" which was a hit for Cortijo. But we also get three bonus tracks, which were singles the group released, never collected before. The first of these, "Alma," is a cover of "Angel of the morning," from 1967, I think, as that tune was dredged up from my memory (sung by Dusty Springfield?). Also, the closer is another cover, and something is whispering The Monkees' "Last Train to Clarksville" in my ear. Oh, no, no, no!

VAPOR (Glitterbeat)

2023 has been a thin year for new music. After a 4-year break (I think we all took a break for the pandemic), Bixiga 70 return with their fifth album, Vapor. The São Paolo-based 10-piece big band are masters of the Afro-Brasilian sound. Their neighborhood, a former slave quarter of the capital, had a big influx of Europeans 100 years ago, and more recently Nigerians and other refugees have come of their own free will. There is a hint of Fela's Egypt 80 in some of their horn choruses, but the similarity is superficial, as they bring synths and Brasilian percussion to the set for a big glossy sound that has evolved beyond Afrobeat. The bass and guitar are busy but don't dominate, allowing the lyricism of the horns in counterpoint to lead the line. The guitar does lead the way with a jagged riff on "Marginal Elevado Radial," which makes me think of their counterparts up north in Salvador, Baianasystem. But then the horns make their move. In addition to their two percussionists they have four guests on drums and percussion, plus a third sax to join their trumpet and trombone. One of the guest percussionists is Simone Sou who has done a lot for women's empowerment in the Brasilian music scene. She plays what sounds like bells or a big gamelan, on the opening and closing tracks. The wormy synth has a lot to say, occasionally getting in your face (as on "Mar Virado"). The keyboard player, Pedro Regada, is new since the last album, Quebra Cabeça (2018), which had Hammond organ, Farfisa and other classic sounds. His tweaky synthi whoops (especially on "Na Quarta-feira") are less engaging though and turned me off. In addition to rainsticks you can hear a berimbau in the final dreamy piece "Loa Lua," which evokes jungle thickets, with the horn chorus on the prowl. My final assessment is the first and last tracks are really good, but the busy synth overwhelms the middle parts.

The Year in Review, so far

(click on maps at the top of the page to get to continent of choice)

October 2023

I put Noor Bakhsh into India & Pakistan part 2, though he is somewhere between
Fruko's El Violento is in Colombia part 3
Hailu Mergia's live album can be read about in the Ethiopia section
Catrin Finch and Aoife ni Bhriain are filed in the sprawling Old World Misc section
remind me to sort it out as there's everything from Tuvan throat singers to Bjork in there....
Allen Kwela is in South Africa part 2

September 2023

Ngoma: the Soul of Congo can be
read about in Congo Classics part 2

August 2023

Jordi Savall & Oriente Lux is filed under Arabia
Gibraltar Drakus & Roger Bekono are found in Cameroon
Early Electronic Rai 1983-90 is filed in Algeria
Wganda Kenya & Kammpala Grupo, as well as
Cumbia Cumbia Cumbia!!! vol 1 can all be found in Colombia part 3

July 2023

Piconema: East African Hits on the Colombia Coast is filed in Kenya part 3
Flamenkora is filed in Old World misc
Delmark Records' 70th Anniversary Blues anthology is filed under Blues
Elza Saores is in Brasil part 3
Debashish Bhattacharya's latest can be read about in India part 2
Les Sympathetics de Port-Novo Benin's self-titled disc is filed in Benin

June 2023

Malombo Jazz Makers Down Lucky's Way is in South Africa 2
Tanya Ekanayaka from Sri Lanka, is filed under Asian misc
Saoco vol 1 is filed in Puerto Rico
Tabaco 1975-85 can be read about in Venezuela
Afrosound's Carruseles is filed in Colombia part 3

May 2023

East African Highway can be read about in Kenya, Tanzania part 3
Mahlathini and Mahotella Queens Live is filed in South Africa part 2
Praed's Kaf Afrit is filed in Arabia
Inna Baba Coulibaly can be found in Mali part 5
so can Solomane Doumbia's musical journey across sub-Sahara

April 2023

Okwy Osadebe can be read about in Nigeria part 3
Dogo's Dogo du Togo is filed under African miscellany
Fruko Power is filed in Colombia part 3
Andres y sus Estrellas is the latest entry in the Venezuela section
My review of Alain Gomis's film Rewind & Play is filed under Monksville (New World)

March 2023

Asro from Gangbé Brass Band, with Kala Jua and Fama Diabaté is filed in African miscellany
Gao Hong & Kadialy Kouyaté is filed in world miscellany (for want of a better spot)
Alfredo Guiterrez y los Caporales' ¡Así es ... Con salsa! went to Colombia, part 3
Faith i Branko's Duhovi is filed under Gypsy
As Valet's Canne à sucre is filed in Music of the Caribbean
as is Polobi and the Gwo-ka Masters
Vusi Mahlasela, Norman Zulu & Jive Connection can be read about in South Africa, part 2

February 2023

Kimi Djabaté is filed in Guinée
T.P. Orch. Poly-Rythmo are found in Benin
No Nazar's Piano Bazaar is hard to classify, let's try Bollywood 2
Björk's Fossora went to Old World miscellany
Sound of the Soul by Debashish Bhatracharya is filed in India & Pakistan part 2
Ray Perez y sus Kenyas are from Venezuela

January 2023

La Perla are filed under Colombia part 2
Azuka Moweta can be found in Nigeria part 3
Sona Jobarteh is from the Gambia, which has its own section
Vibro Succès are from Central African Republic, so are filed under African miscellany
Farid el Atrache is Egyptian; read about him in Arabia
Mita y su Monte Adentro are found in Peru
Ray Perez is filling up the Venezuelan section almost single-handedly
Moncho y su Banda can also be found in Venezuela
Iftin Band can be read about in the Ethiopia & Somalia section





















"Essential reference guide to the Congo guitar king" — SONGLINES 64 **** (four stars)
"I do not know anybody who has such immense knowledge of African music. Congratulations." — Gerhard G (a purchaser)

BACK IN PRINT (Second edition, November 2012)

By Alastair Johnston

Poltroon Press, 2012, expanded to 88 pages; list price $19.95.
Available now. Click HERE for details.



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