November 12, 2009

Afrika Tanzt Und Singt

I've been in some doubt whether I should post this album. It's a curiosity, but certainly with some musical merit.

It is not unlikely that the 'format' was inspired - or even bluntly copied - from Hugh Tracey's Music of Africa series. This German version of Hugh Tracey is Rolf Italiaander, a Dutch national born in Leipzig, Germany. Like Tracey he introduces the tracks on this album. But unlike Tracey Italiaander was not an ethnomusicologist, but a writer with a rather broad interest in Africa.

The record was copied for me quite a while ago, and I had never seen the sleeve until a few months ago when I discovered the record on one of the online resell sites. The picture of the sleeve is copied from this site.

For those who don't understand German, the title translates as "Africa dances and sings". The subtitle of the record is "From tam-tam to jazz", and the A-side of the record contains examples of the tam-tam, i.e. traditional, side of African music, while the B-side has the jazz or modern music. Modern in the late 1950s, that is.

Although I am certainly interested in traditional African music, the record offers only an average selection, compared to other records from the same period. The 'jazz' selection is more interesting though. There is a highlife track from Ghana, a - in my perception* - rare selection from an unnamed Tanzanian orchestra, a track by a Kenyan singer in the dry guitar style, a familiar sounding (and please help me out why it sounds familiar) song from Angola, plus two songs by Joseph Kabasélé and his African Jazz.

It is a total mystery why the sleeve notes state that the first of these is from Belgian Congo and the second from the Congo Republic. Both are in fact from the 1950s, and the second is even older than the first. The first, "Yela Ngai Rebecca", was originally recorded for the Esengo label, - so between 1957 and 1960. And the second, titled "African Jazz" and (like the first) composed by Kabasélé, was recorded for the Opika label (so before 1957) and features Isaac Musekiwa (who from 1957 went over to the O.K. Jazz) on sax.

These two songs alone merit posting this record.

Athena-Ariola 53137 G

* and please tell me (and prove to me) I am wrong!


reservatory said...

GREAT STUFF from left field. THANKS for digging up such in interplanetary obscurity. As always.

akmerlin said...

I am continuing to explore the rich texture of your site. Any possibility you could rip at 320 bits or lossless? More disc space, I know, but such sublime music deserves as much space as possible.


WrldServ said...

@akmerlin: I am not convinced of the technical advantage of 320 Kbps. As far as I have been able to ascertain a bitrate more than 192 Kbps seems useless, as the difference between the original and the compressed copy is inaudible (to the average human being of 21+). Normally I will convert to 224 Kbps.
Please remember too that we are dealing with analog originals. So there is always a possible loss in converting to digital format.

Anonymous said...

I am still trying to figure out the Tanzanian and Ghana tracks - they are both superb, of course the kalle's are the best ones (one African Jazz, has been reissued on a French LP in the 70's) - the Anglolan one bugs me as well. What it does remind us is how much fantastic music was played and recorded in Africa before the "funk" era that everyone seems to care about today (and I personally, do not give a darn about) - ah, getting old i guess, if I ever figure it out I will let you know - regards, Yves