In the aftermath of the death of Margaret Thatcher I have missed a documentary analysing the relation between Thatcherism and the present economic crisis. Perhaps it was broadcast and I just did not see it, or perhaps this is being prepared.
Or maybe the absence of such an analysis is an indirect result of the deceased's policies. Certainly in the Netherlands the media have fallen victim to the "free-market economy". The dramatic effects of this can be observed daily. A movement towards (very) 'light entertainment for the masses' which started in the 1960s with the then new broadcasting corporation TROS was rocket-fuelled by Thatcherism. What was seen in the late 1960s and early 1970s as mindless drivel and the lowest of the low has now - through a process that can only be described as 'incestuous' - achieved the status of 'high culture'. Products of this free-market culture have been exported all over the world. And I am not only referring to Endemol produce such as Big Brother and similar blockbusters, but also to the Tiëstos and Armin van Buurens and other - in my opinion disturbing - phenomena. Mindlessness as a major export.
The latest exponent of this trend is now almost literally forced down the throats of an entire nation. Apparently it is not enough to infect the brains of the defenseless with retarded programming mixed with and/or incorporating matching adverts, with the "King's song" (see this article in The Guardian) an element of coercion is added. We, as a nation, are expected to sing along with this sub-Eurovision (and that's as low as it gets) standard sh*t, in celebration of the new king. This may be the start of the new Middle Ages.....
Perhaps stubbornly, I am still hoping it is not too late. Although on a local level all seems lost, globally there may be sufficient individuals ready to combat the regression into cultural barbarism. By joining forces we can avoid slipping into the abyss. The motto "l'union fait la force" ("Unity makes strength") was - according to this wikipedia page - first used in these low countries in the 16th century. And that's where we will have to look.
As it happens, this unity, this joining of forces, was the main target of the policies of the late Mrs. T. and her sad & misguided successors. The vigour with which she attacked any form of grouping of workers to defend their rights against the forces of the free-market economy - and specifically the trade unions - can only be described as manic. So it stands to reason that we turn to these very unions in our attempt to turn the tide.
And that's where we arrive at the subject of this post: the orchestra of the National Union of Tanzania, the NUTA Jazz Band (see also this earlier post). A great example of strength in unity, and of the high cultural level that can be the result. A unity that is demonstrated in strong vocal harmonies, in a solid wall of horns, and in some great interaction between musicians. And although I have no information about their salaries, I am convinced they can not be labelled as 'overpaid' (like many of the exponents of the present-day 'free-market culture').
This cassette, released by FLATIM Records (see also here), was probably recorded sometime in the mid-1970s. It is a collection of brilliant and very Tanzanian songs, but there is certainly an influence of the then dominant Zairean (Congolese) music. Particularly the influence of the (by that time) Tout Puissant O.K. Jazz is more than obvious. And, as you may have noticed, this will give a band a serious advantage in my rating.
One song stands out in this respect: "Mwana Iddi". In every aspect this is a superb tribute to Franco, but especially in the execution of the sebène. After 1'40 the build-up starts, an ascent in stages which reaches its culmination after 3'19 with one of the very best Franco-esque solos I have ever heard. The band clearly has listened carefully to the grand maître, for they also have grasped the added value of the shouts (with the O.K. Jazz often by singers like Chécain and Boyibanda).
But let me stress that NUTA Jazz is nevertheless very much original, very much Tanzanian - and very much authentic NUTA Jazz.