One of my resolutions for the new year is to post more traditional music. I am well aware that the distinction between modern and so-called 'traditional' music is at times not as clear as it may seem. A lot of modern music is at the very least inspired by themes, topic and tunes handed over from one generation to another, - or in other words by tradition.
So to start off the year I would like to share with you this cassette which I bought years and years ago in the early 1980s, - and long before these historic recordings made by Hugh Tracey between 1948 and 1963 were remastered and digitised. Although some, most, or possibly all (sorting this out is complicated by the fact that some of the titles have been changed - see my first attempt here*) of these recordings are probably available on cd, I still feel there is a case for posting this cassette. For I would like to put it to you that the sound of this cassette is in most cases better, or preferable if you like, to that of the cd's. Listen and compare...
The production of this cassette betrayes the pure amateur love for the music by the people at Folktracks (who don't seem in any way related to Folkways), with pre-computer printing and tightly folded, but extensive sleeve notes. From the archives of the International Library of African Music (ILAM) they have compiled 20 songs featuring the mbira, or sanza, or likembe, or thumb piano. The artists in these recordings have been fully credited. And there are some legends among these. Like Zimbabwean mbira legend Simon Mashoko ("Saimoni Mashoko" in the notes - photo on left). For others these recordings are possibly the only ones that were ever made of them.
I particularly like the tracks by Ngaina Lolo (A2 - love the resonance), the one by Simon Sitale (A8 - the mbira like a blanket for cold ears), the storybook-like "Kemai" by Kayoka Ladislas & Beya Marcel (A10), the very Zimbabwean sounding track by Baranganani Mudzanani from South Africa (B3) and the soulful song for the chief by Chabarwa Musanda Mayo Sinyoro** (B4).
Folktracks AFR-45-802 (new link May 3, 2012)
* And please feel free to suggest additions.
** one person or two?