Saturday, November 22, 2008

Franco & TPOK Jazz 'Hommage a Franco'

Better Late than Never...
a second posting!

This selection barely needs an introduction. Franco and his Tout Puissant O. K. Jazz were catapulted into fame as soon as they began recording in the 1950's and went on to dominate Congolese music till Franco's death in 1989. Perhaps Africa's most legendary guitarist, Franco mastered rumba during his youth and went on to develop and define the style known as Soukous. His tapes are still in wide circulation throughout Francophone Africa and contemporary dance music from Kinshasha continues to reflect his enourmous influence. Unfortunately, Franco never achieved commercial success in the US and his music is difficult to find.

This album, Hommage, is a mid-career greatest hits album featuring four big singles. These songs are characteristic of soukous, or son congolaise, with long forms, distinct movements within songs, rich vocal and horn harmonies, and interlocking guitar parts. Franco sings in Lingala and French. Enjoy!



Saturday, July 12, 2008

Aflao Brass Band 'Kale Hawo'

It took longer than expected, but here's our first offering, a stellar brass band from the Volta region of Ghana.  Ghanaian brass bands are usually connected to some organization like a church or political party or run by a brass band society that raises funds, owns instruments, and organizes the band.  The Aflao Brass Band is a society band.

Aflao is on the east coast of Ghana on the border to Togo and is ethnically Ewe.  Ghanaian Ewe music is rich with large groups of drummers playing complex interlocking compositions behind hymn-like melodies.  

'Kale Hawo' sets the traditional Ewe forms of Agbadja and Kinka with traditional drums and brass.  Often, brass bands from Ghana can sound wonderfully ramshackle due to instruments in horrible states of repair, but the Aflao band sounds in tune and tight.  
Agbadja is played at funerals, and the music here is beautiful: triumphant but mournful.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

National Gentleman's Trust Gold Coast presents: Hot

   My friends and I have spent the last five months in Ghana archiving the audio collections of two Ghanaian musicians .  We have also been collecting and digitizing cassettes that are not available in America, which I will be posting on this site.  Our collections includes recordings of styles that are little known outside West Africa such as Borborbor from Ghana and Togolese Rumba.    

The first batch will be up by the end of May, and I'll be adding more regularly thereafter.