January 04, 2013

Pamba moto

Among my resolutions for this new year is one which may prove to be somewhat challenging: for I intend to post more music from East Africa.
The challenge lies not so much in the music, but in 'peripheral' matters.

This post is a good example of this. For although I had copied the music, I had done so in a time when even a copy-shop (or any other facility where one could turn to to produce a photocopy) was a veritable rarity. In fact, it must have been around the time when this record was released. Luckily I recently received digital copies of the sleeve, so I can now share the record with you.

This post is also intended as an encouragement for the Tanzania Heritage Project (see their website), a project which aims to restore and preserve the archives at Radio Tanzania.
This video from their website gives a short introduction:

Compared to a similar project which involves the conservation of (a large part of) the archives of the RTG in Conakry, Guinea, and which is carried out by just one (1) person, i.e. my good friend Graeme Counsel, I am impressed by the size of the team. I hope this will be reflected in the results of the project, - which for now seem to focus largely on the project itself. But I remain optimistic......

In all the discussions about rights and 'infringements' an aspect seems to have been overlooked. When dealing with African music issues of rights (which in any case are mostly the rights of - often dubious - producers) are insignificant compared to the far, far larger issue of the irretrievable and absolute loss of enormous quantities of unique and irreproducable musical recordings.
You may have read my earlier posts where I 'moan' about the 'limitations' in the (digital) reproduction of Franco's impressive oeuvre. To be honest I have to add that these limitations are almost trivial compared to the reproduction of the works by others, like for example the Vijana Jazz Orchestra.
And I hasten to add that Stern's have just over a year ago released a very recommendable CD, which you can still obtain from their site.
Music by Vijana Jazz has also appeared on a few compilations, but I think we are still a long way from a structured and integral disclosure of their musical legacy.

When it comes to biographical information I was surprised to find there is even an entry in the wikipedia dedicated to this illustrious Tanzanian formation, which like others (see here and here) has its origins in a public (i.e. linked to the state) organisation.

I suppose this album can be seen as the peak of the career of the late singer Hemedi Maneti with two of his greatest hits: "Mary Maria" and "Tambiko la Pamba Moto". I love the wonderfully intrusive guitar (and matching bass!) and the great vocals, both the lead and the chorus.
If you ask me, both of these tracks don't only deserve a place in the Heritage of Tanzania, but should also at least be nominated for a place in the World Heritage List (and especially if you see what is actually on this list...).

AHDLP 6004

OFF-TOPIC: I have started a page on Facebook, where I will occasionally post links to 'matters of interest'. Don't expect any profundity though....


joji1867 naoiven said...

Shukrani tu! Nakuunga mkono.

Kweli muziki wa Afrika ya Mashariki wa kuvutia sana!


Anonymous said...

Many thanks for posting this marvelous LP and please stick to your New Years Resolution of posting more East African music.
At the time of this music's release there was talk that virtually all the LPs recorded by the great Tanzanian orchestras in the early and mid 80s were unauthorized bootlegs produced in Kenya. I'm sure others are much better qualified to throw light on this issue, but it does highlight your comments in the post about the music's 'infringement'. However one outcome of more recent re-releases on CD appears to be that producers have become more scrupulous in searching out the actual artists for royalty payments (and contributions to sleeve notes etc). Honest record companies deserve support too.

WrldServ said...

@Anonymous: I wasn't trying to kindle the discussion about rights. I was trying to stress the imminent loss, and in some cases definite loss, of a large part of the African musical heritage. Projects like the Tanzania Heritage Project may play an important or even crucial role in preventing this loss.

When it comes to honest record companies, I am sure you are right. But it may be hard to distinguish those from the not so honest ones and the ones that are (on some occasions for very valid reasons) closing their eyes to 'irregularities'. When dealing with African music things are seldom clear-cut (and I was almost tempted to write black & white...).

salsabroso said...

hola te mando cordiales saludos y decirte que sigo tu pagina y me resulta interesente y quisiera hacerte una pregunta en tu player una vez pusiste una version de "motiagua"del conjunto saoco pero con un artista africano quisiera saber si me podrias decir quien la toca y si se puede conseguir el vinyl ..muchas gracias y felicidades por la pagina mil gracias por las atenciones ....me puedes contestar a mi correo mirrugz@hotmail.com ......muchas felicidaes y feliz 2013
pd. disculpa que te contacte por aqui porque por el correo no pude

Koronya Mwambia said...

We are ready for the East African invasion. Bring it on.

Anonymous said...

Hi Stefan,Thanks for planning to offer more music from East Africa.
I will on my part, help send to you some of the best music of Mbaraka Mwinshehe Mwaruka,the one and only true giant/genius to come from East Africa,whose music was played by all goverment radio/tv stations of the whole region as if he was a local lad,a feat only achieved by another giant from a neighbouring region,a fellow called Franco.
Forget about Heritage Project,where they did not even mention Mbaraka`s name once but found time to write about a legend called King Kiki,a legend my foot.
In order to get the songs for you,I am prepared to incur the wrath of my beloved wife,by going through all our staff in our basement(mostly her stuff,I am afraid)as I am convinced most of my Mbaraka`s collection are somewhere there(I have previously believed my wife threw them out with rubbish while moving house few years ago).
We are talking of songs that you cant find anywhere else on the entire web.Mostly from RTD archive.
By the way,Hemed Maneti was also a fan of Soloist National,just like you and me,but that is a topic for another day.
Kind regards

poltroon said...

I just finished converting my seven Ahadi cassettes of Vijana Jazz to .wav format. At one point I began to wonder what drew me to the muddy synth-laden noise on those old cassettes, then I got to "Pamba Moto" -- what a treasure!
Thanks for reminding everyone of the importance of Tanzanian "muziki wa dansi"

WrldServ said...

@Alastair (poltroon): I certainly agree about the "muddy synth-laden noise". This is what often discourages me from playing their cassettes...

Anonymous said...

Synth-African, jazz, or what have you: I'll take a pass. I have nothing against others who enjoy it, but it just seems to me less about playing instruments than about setting electronic controls.

Love this album, and I agree: Mary Maria and Tambiko la Pamba Moto are the kind of selections that any Museum of Music Across the World should have on its heritage list. But then, how often do art and history museums even have authentic, period and place museum playing to go along with their visuals...?

Anonymous said...

Hi Stefan,
I have got some good news for you.
I promised you in the above post of 13th/1/13,to send you some great Mbaraka Mwinshehe`s original songs which he recorded home in Tanzania and are not available anywhere in the web.
These are 5 original songs that,even though he later went to record them with the commercial compaines in Kenya,are of totaly different quality.
You have all the 5 Kenyan`s version songs in your you tube site,but you will now be able to experience the gap of quality of his original and later versions.
An example is one of the songs I am sending you,called `Wacheni Waseme`,which you have the Kenyan version in you tube,and the one I am sending which he recorded in Tanzania,and in this original version the way he plays the guiter is just brilliant,it will leave you speachless,while the Kenyan version is just mediocre for his standard.
I am e-mailing you,so that we can arrange how I can send the CD on this coming monday.