Sunday, January 21, 2018

Tigrinya Sounds



Here's an appropriate followup to our last post of Ethiopian "ethnic" music: 3tä Weräyat Naye Tegriña Däräfeti Beheberät ("Three Famous Tigrinya Singers Together"), a compilation of musicians from the Tigray region of Ethiopia. The date on the inlay card is 1985, but that's from the Ethiopian calendar. I'm guessing that would put it around 1992 or 1993, shortly after the fall of the the government of Mengistu Haile Mariam and (possibly) before the independence of Eritrea in 1993.

Although they were sundered by those events, Tigrinya-speaking people live on both sides of the Eritrea-Ethiopia border, comprsing an estimated 55% of the population in Eritrea and 97% of the Tigray region of Ethiopia. I've written before about Tigrinya music. It's apparent from even a casual listening that it's quite different from the better-known Amharic-language music of the Ethiopian highlands, with a more insistent rhythm and greater use of the krar, a five-or-six-striged lyre. In recent years the krar has even been electrified, as demonstrated to great effect in this cassette.

Two of the artists here, Kiros Alämayahu and Bahta Gebre-Hiwot, were pioneers of Tigrinya music.  According to his Wikipedia entry, Kiros Alämayahu was a prolific singer and composer who was born in Saesi Tsaedaemba woreda (county), Tigray province in 1948. In 1982-83 he joined the Ras Theater in Addis Ababa, recording his first album around the same time. Again according to Wikipedia, he died of "intestinal complications" in 1994, but another, questionable, source attributes his death to poisoning by agents of the ruling EPRDF party. As in everything learned via the internet, caveat emptor.

Bahta Gebre-Hiwot was one of the outstanding composers, singers and stars of the "Golden Age" of Ethiopian music, amply documented in the Éthiopiques series. Born in 1943 in Adigrat, Tigray province, in 1961 he was recruited by the famous Ras Hotel Band in Addis along with Girma Bayene. After a number of recordings in the sixties, working with such luminaries as Mulatu Astatke, in 1972 he abruptly quit the music scene to become an accountant. But here he is twenty years later, bigger and better than ever!


What's notable about these and other recent recordings by Bahta Gebre-Hiwot is their enthusiastic embrace of Tigrayan aesthetics as opposed to his more sedate recordings of the Sixties, which were often in Amharic. In fact, the contrast is so great that I suspected at first that the producers of the cassette had him confused with another Tigrayan star, Hagos Gebrehiwot. But apparently not. This may be a reflection of the political and cultural upheaval brought about by the collapse of the Derg government in 1991. Keep in mind that this revolution was led by groups that had been sidelined under previous regimes, notably but not exclusively the Tigray people of  northern Ethiopia. Now, on paper at least, all nationalities in Ethiopia are equal. It may not be comfortable for all, but the new order has indeed created a situation where previously-marginalized groups feel more free to express themselves. There has been a backlash against "Tigray domination" in Ethiopia, but in spite of this Tigrinya music is quite popular all over the country.

I've been unable to find out anything about the third musician here, Tadesse Abreha, nicknamed "Wadi Koxäb," although he's well represented on YouTube.                            

Kiros Alämayahu - Tä'agas

Bahta Gebre-Hiwot - Ruba'aday

Tadesse Abreha "Wadi Koxäb" - Hayat Tawärewaray


Kiros Alämayahu - Hezenzen 

Bahta Gebre-Hiwot - Shemad Be'eray

Kiros Alämayahu - Nä'anado Lamerä

Tadesse Abreha "Wadi Koxäb" - Täbärabäre Hezebay

Bahta Gebre-Hiwot - Ayetegeray 'Ened

Kiros Alämayahu - Gado 

Tadesse Abreha "Wadi Koxäb" - Nefus Shäshame

Unknown - Bonus Instrumental Track


Download 3tä Weräyat Naye Tegriña Däräfeti Beheberät here. Thanks once again to Andreas Wetter for his help with this post.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Twelve "Ethnic" Songs from Ethiopia



Ethiopia in the popular mind is associated with the Amhara people, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the distinctive Ge'ez, or Ethiopic, script. In reality, the Oromo are the largest nationality in Ethiopia, though not a majority, and the Amhara come in second, with a multitude of other ethnic groups making up the remainder. While Orthodoxy is the largest religion, though not a majority, Muslims make up a third of the population and there are other versions of Christianity represented as well as traditional religions. In recent years the Oromo and other groups have begun to adopt the Latin alphabet.

Under Haile Selassie the non-Amhara ethnic groups were generally marginalized and excluded from any real power, and this practice continued, with some adjustments, under the "Marxist-Leninist" Derg regime, which took power in 1974 after Selassie's overthrow. The Derg itself was toppled in  1991 by the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front, an alliance of four ethnically-based political parties. Notable among these was the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front from the northern, non-Amhara province of Tigray. At the same time the northern province of Eritrea acheived independence after a decades-long struggle. Ethiopia is now a federal republic, with no ostensible dominant nationality and each one technically having the right to self-determination, as outlined in the map at the top of this post.

Ironically, many Amhara are now complaining about marginalization. As well, in recent years there have been protests among the Oromo people against the proposed expansion of the capital, Addis Ababa, which was established in the middle of Oromia but is separately administered. These and other "national" struggles have combined with demands for democratic rights and fair elections to create a rather unstable situation that the government has managed, so far, to keep under control.

Over the years various non-Amhara musicians have acheived fame in Ethiopia. The famous singer Mahmoud Ahmed, for instance, is of Gurage ancestry, while Ali Mohammed Birra is a well-known Oromo singer who first recorded under Haile Selassie. Musicians from Eritrea like Tewelde Redda and Bereket Mengesteab have also been popular over the years.

Which brings us to today's musical offering, the cassette 12 Yätäläyayu Yäbeheräshäb Zäfänoch Kä'Ambassäl!!  - "12 Different Songs of Ethnic Groups from Ambassäl!!," "Ambassäl" being the company that issued the cassette. This is a collection of "ethnic" (mainly non-Amharic) songs by various artists. It was released in the early '90s, just after the fall of the Derg, when things were beginning to loosen up in Ethiopia. Unfortunately the inlay card for the cassette is not very informative. The songs are not credited (although the artists are listed) and languages are not indicated.

Very little information is available (in the English language at least) about these musicians, but they're hardly obscure in Ethiopia - many have videos online, and I've linked to these when possible.

As usual concerning things Ethiopian I consulted Likembe's good friend Andreas Wetter, and he was able to sort things out - not only matching artists to songs but listing the languages (and specific dialects!) and transliterating the Ge'ez script into Latin orthography. Thanks, Andreas!

Habtimichael Demisse's two contributions here are the only ones in the Amharic language. Unfortunately he passed away on October 9 of last year following a car accident in Addis Ababa. In his long career he was responsible for many popular tunes like "Jano Megen."

Habtemichael Demisse - Wəb Aläm (Amharic)

The Gurage people hail from the southwestern corner of Ethiopia, although many now reside in Addis Ababa and other cities. Mohammed Awwel is one of the better-known Gurage musicians, and is not to be confused with another musician named Mohammed Awel Hamza, who specializes in Amharic-language Islamic chants called Manzuma. Here's a video by Mohammed Awwel highlighting the distinctive Gurage rhythm and dancing.

Mohammed Awwel - Yaret Mot Närä (Gurage)

Tigrinya-speaking people live in both the Ethiopian province of Tigray and in the now-independent nation of Eritrea. Tareke Tesfahiwot is a leading Eritrean musician and has been called "the Stevie Wonder of Eritrea," apparently because he is blind. There are many videos by him on YouTube, including this one.

Tareke Tesfahiwot - Anä Məsaxi Wäläləle (Tigrinya)

The Oromo people are the largest nationality in Ethiopia, constituting up to 40% of the population. They have historically chafed under the rule of the central government in Addis Ababa, this sentiment taking the form of protests in recent years. I've been unable to find out anything about Tsägaye Dändana on the internet, but he has many videos there, including this one.

Tsägaye Dändana - Yadäme Tole (Western Oromo)

"Achara" is in Dorze, which is spoken by a rather small ethnic group who live in the southwestern corner of Ethiopia:

Taddese Kebbede - Achara (Dorze)

"Aman Täsh" is in the Harari language, which according to Andreas, "... is the original language of the inhabitants of the old, walled city of Harar, the old Muslim city in the eastern highlands. Today, most Harari speakers live in Addis Ababa and the diaspora (California, I guess), i.e. they are a minority in Harar now...As far as I know, Bitew Worku seems to be from Eastern Ethiopia. Maybe he is Oromo, though the name is a little bit unusual because Oromo from Eastern Ethiopia are generally Muslims. But he always sings Oromo songs from Eastern Ethiopia, and Harari, which is a Semitic language, is also spoken in that area which supports the idea that he represents the eastern part and culture...." Here's a nice video by Bitew Worku.

Bitew Worku - Aman Täsh (Harari)

Habtemichael Demisse - Firmanna Wäräqät (Amhara)

Another Oromo tune by Tsägaye Dändana here, which is featured on YouTube under the title "Yaa Abaabbiyyo."

Tsägaye Dändana - Dibabe Kiyya (Shewa Oromo)

Another song by Tadesse Kebede, this one in the Sidamo language, which is spoken in southwestern Ethiopia:

Taddese Kebbede - Saro (Sidamo)

Tareke Tesfahiwot - Ǝlaloy (Tigrinya)

Mohammed Awwel - Yäshurbi Qänezhəyä (Gurage)

Bitew Worku - Mägale Tiyya (Eastern Oromo)

Download 12 Yätäläyayu Yäbeheräshäb Zäfänoch Kä'Ambassäl!! as a zipped file here. Thanks once again to Andreas Wetter for his help.


Monday, January 8, 2018

Le Phenomenal Souzy Kasseya



I've written in this space several times of my admiration for Souzy Kasseya, the brilliant Congolese session guitarist who scored something of a crossover hit in France in 1983 with his single "Le Téléphone Sonne." Jumping across the English Channel in '84, it was released at a 12" single by Earthworks (DIG 12" 004), which was how many of us first heard it. I wasn't aware at the time, though, that "Le Téléphone Sonne" originally appeared on an LP, Le Retour de l'As (Eska Production SK 001, 1983), a product of Richard Dick's prolific Afro-Rythmes machine, and that this was a different, and arguably better version:


Anyway, here is the single version, along with the B side, "Ulta Ntima Tony." Decide for yourself:



Download the single as a zipped file here. Following the success of "Le Téléphone Sonne," Earthworks licensed the LP Le Phenomenal (Eska International SK 84003, 1984) for release in the UK (as The Phenomenal, ELP 2008, 1985):



Download The Phenomenal as a zipped file here. Those who can't get enough of this great muscian are invited to browse the Likembe archives here. A compilation I did, African Divas Vol. 1, also features two tracks by Souzy with Tina Dakoury from Ivory Coast and Tshala Muana from the Congo. Le Retour de l'As is available as a download from Global Grooves here.


Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year!



Here's a quick post to celebrate the New Year and fulfill a promise. A while back I posted La Tradition en Mouvement by the Ivorian funk/zouk group Woya and pledged I would also make available their first and biggest hit, Kacou Ananzé (African 425.004, 1986). Well, here it is!

I remember not caring for this LP a whole lot when it first came out. Something about synths and especially drum machines just put me off. After listening to it for the first time in at least twenty years I must amend that judgement. Kacou Ananzé is catchy, danceable and captures perfectly the Zouk sound, then sweeping out of the French Antilles and across Africa and the world. It was a deserved best-seller for Woya.

I wasn't able to find out much about the album online, but I did discover tha "Kacou Ananzé" is an illustrious figure in West African folklore, an egotistical spider who is contually led to misfortune by his own hubris and vanity. As "Anansi the Spider" these stories have made their way to the Caribbean and to the United States as "Bre'r Rabbit."

Enjoy Kacou Ananzé, and Bonne Année!

Woya - Kacou Ananzé

Woya - Chèque Sans Provision


Woya - Belinda

Woya - Marguerita


Woya - Oh! Loubard


Woya - Ambiance Facile


Download Kacou Ananzé as a zipped file here.


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

E Ku Ọdun, Eku Iyedun!



The Good Women Choir was founded in Ibadan, southwestern Nigeria in 1975 as the musical expression of the Christ Apostolic Church, an offshoot of the Aladura Christian religious movement that arose among the Yoruba people in the early 20th Century. The Choir numbered 200 at its founding and presently has twelve members.

Mrs. Deborah Fasoyin, who has led the group since 1976, attributes its endurance to its strong spiritual base and a refusal to follow musical fads. The group performs only in churches and claim they decline to accept payment, subsisting only on their own contributions.

Today's offering, Ọdun Nlọ Sopin (Ibukun Orisun Iye MOLPS 66, 1979), was the group's biggest hit, and is ubiquitous in southwestern Nigeria this time of year, heralding as it does best wishes and good tidings for the New Year:

Ọdun nlọ sopin
Baba rere
Baba Ma ṣọmi o
Tọmọtọmọ
Ohun ti o pa mi
Lẹkun olọdun titun
Majẹ ko ṣẹlẹ simi
Baba rere

This year is coming to an end
Good God
Oh Lord guide us
And our children
Sorrow and sadness
In the new year
Will not be our portion
Good God
This music makes me happy! I hope you feel the same.

Good Women Choir - Odun Nlo Sopin / Alleluya Lomo Mi Goke / Ara Mi Yo Ya Gaga / Tire Lagbara

Good Women Choir - Jesu Gbo Temi / Ma Je Koro Mi Su O / Jesu Lona Otito

Download Ọdun Nlọ Sopin as a zipped file here.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

From Benin City to the World



Some years ago I discussed the former Benin Empire (not to be confused with the present-day "Republic of Benin"), its premier nationality, the Edo or Bini people, and highlighted some musicians from that area. It is justly renowned for its artwork, much of which has resided in the British Museum since the conquest and looting of Ubinu, present-day Benin City, in 1897.

Nigerian highlife superstar and  Benin City favorite son Sir Victor Uwaifo is an avatar of Edo culture not only in the musical sphere but in other fields as well - he's a professor of Fine Arts and bronze casting at the University of Benin City. He got his start as a musician in the legendary Victor Olaiya's band in the early sixties and went on to play with E.C. Arinze before starting his first band, the Pickups, in 1963. His smash hits "Joromi" and "Guitar Boy," with the Melody Maestros (later renamed the Titibitis) in the late '60s, and his invention of the ekassa and akwete styles among others, cemented his reputation as a giant of the Nigerian music scene. This was due in no small part to his skillful adaptation of traditional Edo folkloric themes. His outrageous performance style contributed to his reputation as well, including playing the guitar with his teeth and dancing with a small person on stage.

Apart from a few records in English, Uwaifo has always performed in the Edo language. An exception is today's musical selection, the outstanding 1986 release Egwu-Ọzo (Polydor POLP 139).  In addition to one song, "Eyasodaro," in Edo, it features pieces in the three most widespread languages of Nigeria: Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa.

"Egwu Ọzo," an adaptation of Igbo court music, kicks things off:

Sir Victor Uwaifo & his Titibitis - Egwu Ọzo

Edo:

Sir Victor Uwaifo & His Titibitis - Eyasodaro

Yoruba:

Sir Victor Uwaifo & his Titibitis - Ifa Jigijigi

Hausa:

Sir Victor Uwaifo & his Titibitis - Yarinya

I have heard other versions of the Hausa song "Yarinya" ("Girl"), so I assumed it must be a standard. The liner notes of Egwu-Ọzo credit it to the Ishie Brothers, who interestingly were an Igbo group. I suspect they were resident in northern Nigeria in the early '60s, where they gained a bit of a following among the Hausa people. A little search revealed several songs by them in my music library, including "Mafara, Kusa da Sokoto" from the LP Catchy Rhythms From Nigeria Vol. 2 (Philips P 13401 R), which turns out to be "Yarinya" under its original title.


Here's the original version of the song:

Ishie Brothers - Mafara, Kusa da Sokoto

If you're interested in exploring further the music of Victor Uwaifo, something I heartily recommend, a great place to start would be the compilation Guitar-Boy Superstar: 1970-76 (Soundway SNDWCD 012, 2008), the liner notes of which were quite helpful in writing this post.

Download Egwu-Ọzo as a zipped file here.



Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Manding Archangel



Here's another recording that was featured not too long ago on another site - in this case Mangue Music, which posted it on January 10 of last year.

I hesitated before posting it again here, but in light of my last missive, which dealt with Yaya Bangoura and the fate of Guinean music since 1984, I figured, why not? Kadé Diawara is another Guinean artist who made the transition from state sponsorship under Sekou Touré to the modern era. And besides, L'Eternelle Kadé Diawara (Alpha Mamadou Cissé et Frères AMC 002, 1992) is so darn good, it's worth another listen!

I've been unable to find out much about Madame Diawara. I think she may have passed away recently, although I can't confirm that. She is (was?) from a musical family, performing since childhood. Earning the nickname of "The Manding Archangel," she was a member of l'Ensemble Instrumental National du Guinée in the '70s, making this remarkable video, apparently from a local broadcast:

Kadé Diawara & l'Ensemble Instrumental National - Armeé Guinéene

She made one LP for Editions Syliphone in 1976, L'Archange du Manding (SLP 62), a restrained effort with Moussa Konate and Abraham Kebe. I don't have it, but did find one track from it:

Kadé Diawara - Bélé Bélé

And then, in 1992, Madame Diawara made an outstanding comeback. The cassette L'Eternelle Kadé Diawara is quite an acheivement, combining modern technology, Manding tradition and a host of talented supporting musicians, notably Sekouba Bambino Diabaté. It is justly famed:

Kadé Diawara - A M'Boh

Kadé Diawara - N'Madjènè






At least two more releases followed.

Sadly, the story of Kadé Diawara's life doesn't seem to have a happy ending. According to this article, as of three years ago she had fallen on hard times, living off a modest pension and whatever she could scrape up singing at baptisms and weddings. The fate of too many musicians in Africa!

Download L'Eternelle Kadé Diawara as a zipped file here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The "New" Guinea Sound



From Independence in 1958 until the death of dictator Sekou Touré in 1984, there was only one record company in Guinea, the legendary Syliphone label. Not only that, all professional musicians in the country performed under the aegis of the Parti Démocratique de Guinée, the only legal political party. They were employed by the state, which provided musical instruments and venues. This could make for some uncomfortable situations, such as when when trumpet player Balla Onivogui fell afoul of some government bureaucrats in 1970 and was deposed as leader of his own group, Balla et ses Balladins, in favor of his sideman Pivi Moriba. "Pivi et ses Balladins" recorded one album before the status quo ante was restored when Sekou Touré himself intervened.

This all sounds like a very stifling state of affairs, but in fact during this period Guinea produced some of the most vital and original music to come out of the African continent. The official cultural  policy was Authenticité, which rejected European influences and sought a return to African roots for inspiration (similar policies were in place in Mali, Tanzania and Congo [Zaïre] for a time). It's all documented in an excellent 2-CD compilation on the Sterns label, Authenticité: The Syliphone Years (STCD 3025-26, 2007), ably curated by Dr. Graeme Counsel, which samples the 83 LPs and 77 45s released by Syliphone.

Several years ago Dr. Counsel finished digitizing Syliphone's archives in their entirety, including many, many recordings that were never pressed on vinyl. You can listen to all of them on the British Library's website. At the completion of this massive project Guinea's Ministry of Culture held a celebration, featuring among others the legendary Amazones de Guineé:


This Golden Age of Guinean music came to an end in 1984 when Sekou Touré died and Syliphone was scrapped. The many national and regional musical groups sponsored by the Ministry of Culture were cast to the vagaries of the free market. Some survived and still perform to this day. Many foundered. Taking the place of Syliphone were a number of independent labels, dealing now in cassettes rather than vinyl (I would assume cassettes also have gone by the wayside since, but who knows?).

Guinean music, freed from political constraints, has tended more toward the slick sound that typifies modern African popular music, often utilizing synthesizers but still making use of traditional instruments like the kora and balafon. It is often recorded outside Guinea, for instance in Abidjan's JBZ Studios, as was today's selection, Yaya Bangoura's La Patience (D.D. United 96002, 1996).

Bangoura typifies the "new" breed of Guinean musicians (that is, "new" as of 1996 - I confess to not having heard much recent music from that country, although I'm sure there's plenty). He was born in 1957 and became a teacher in 1982. However, he'd always had an interest in music and was a featured singer on Syli Authentique's 1976 album Dans l'Arène (Syliphone SLP 57). La Patience was his first solo recording effort, followed in short order by Kalanyi, Koule Yèlè and several tours which would take him to Europe, the United States and Canada.

Crippling back problems have forced "El Bangou" to perform in a chair for some time. I read, however, that he recently arrived in the US for specialized medical care. Here's hoping that he will continue to entertain us for many more years!

Yaya Bangoura - Koundara

Yaya Bangoura - Sabou Fanniyi

Yaya Bangoura - Super V

Yaya Bangoura - N'na Barana

Yaya Bangoura - Khakhili

Yaya Bangoura - Bariké

Yaya Bangoura - Denké Touré

Yaya Bangoura - Koundara

Download La Patience as a zipped file here.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Urban Azmariwotch



The azmari is the Ethiopian equivalent of the West African griot - a troubadour, a truth-teller and "court jester" all in one, disdained and beloved at the same time. The essential release Éthiopiques 2: Techawet!: Urban Azmaris of the '90s (Buda Musique 82952-2, 1997) traces the development of a new urban form of the azmari's art to the the fall of the putatively "Marxist-Leninist" Dergue regime in 1991. Restricted by a curfew for the previous 18 years, residents of Addis Ababa took to nightlife with a vengeance, giving rise to many new azmarebets, or cabarets devoted to this musical form.

The usual azmari ensemble is composed of one or two vocalists, players of the krar (Ethiopian lyre), masinqo (one-stringed violin), percussion and perhaps accordeon. As today's selection, the cassette Democracy Mebtesh (Negarit Music Shop, ca. 1992) illustrates, this combination can be supplemented by organ or synthesiser, electric bass and drum machine (somewhat to the detriment of the music, in my opinion). 

The title, Democracy Mebtesh ("Your Democratic Right"), clearly alludes to the atmosphere that prevailed in Ethiopia in the early '90s after the fall of the Dergue and the rise of a new government led by the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front. My friend Andreas Wetter writes, "...I think it is meant in a rather ironic way. I remember having heard it used by people from time to time. The media was full of words about democracy but everyone knew that there was no real democracy. People usually felt a subtle oppression and didn't believe in the offiocial discourse, because there were imprisonments, often arbitrary, and even killings."

Our featured artists, Betsat Seyoum Abhra and Abbebe Fekade, exemplify the new urban azmariwotch. Betsat, born in 1965, does not come from a musical family but found her calling in 1985 performing in various establishments in Addis before opening her own azmarebet in 1990. Abbebe, born in 1970, by contrast comes from a musical heritage in the province of Gondar, where his father was an azmari.Performing together in Betsat's establishment, they are naturally simpatico!


Bati is one of the four major kiñits, modes or scales of Ethiopian music, the others being Tezeta, Ambassel and Anchihoye. For many years I thought "Bati" was an actual song. There are many versions extant and I featured one in a previous post. Andreas Wetter, though, tells me that no two versions have exactly the same words. The versions I've heard have usually been male and female duets, and even though I don't understand the lyrics, have always struck me as being flirtatious in nature. Andreas tells me the version here is particularly scandalous. Francis Falceto's liner notes for Betsat's and Abbebe's CD Urban Azmaris of Ethiopia (Long Distance 122166, 1995) translate the lyrics as follows:


As Falceto further explains, the words are more than what they seem. The underlined lyrics above are the literal meaning whereas the boldface are the actual meaning. The Abyssinica Dictionary explains, "Wax and Gold is the formula used by the Ethiopians to symbolize their favorite form of verse. It is a form build of two semantic layers. The apparent, figurative meaning of the words is called 'Wax'; their hidden actual significance is the 'Gold'. The term Wax and Gold is derived from the work of the goldsmith, who constructs a clay mold around a from created in wax and then, draining the wax, pours the molten gold into that form...." During the time of Haile Selassie and later under the Dergue such verbal subterfuge was a vital form of social protest.



Tezeta (or "Tizita") is often described as "Ethiopian Blues." The word means "memory" or "nostalgia," and like Bati above, it is one of the four major kiñits, or modes, of Ethiopian music. No two versions of Tezeta, even if literally called "Tezeta," will ever be the same. Falceto, in the liner notes of Éthiopiques 10: Tezeta: Ethiopian Blues & Ballads (Buda Musique 82222-2, 2002), writes,"...Singing one's sadness isn't as paradoxical as it may seem. There has to be a way to get through life's cruel twists of fate, and from the world's often comes the inspiration to overcome alll manners of adversity, public or private. Might as well do it in a song. If the Afro-American blues is the best-known means of expression combining music with wallowing in misery, there are many musical cultures throughout the world that have formulated in their own way this odd mixture of brightness and gloom, heavy-handedness and lightness of heart..."


"Enneggänaññallän" = "We Will Meet." 


Ambassel is the name of a district in Wollo Province and is also one of the four kiñits of Ethiopian music. Wikipedia describes it as the mode used for songs with historical themes.


"Ende Näh" = "How Are You?"

Betsat Seyoum & Abbebe Fekade - Ende Näh

"Lomi Nahe (She) Waye" = "You are a Lime" (a term of affection).



Download Democracy Mebtesh as a zipped file here. Many thanks to Andreas Wetter, who, as always, has provided much useful information for this post. The liner notes of Éthiopiques 2, Éthiopiques 10 and Urban Azmaris of Ethiopia were also quite helpful. If you really want to dig into the details of Ethiopian musical theory (something that's above my head), you might like to read this article by Timothy Johnson, who discusses the four major kiñits of Ethiopian music - Bati, Tezeta, Ambassel and Anchihoye. This article by Ezra Abate is also quite detailed.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Conspiration



Les Officiers of African Music were a "super-group" formed in the 1980s by Congolese musicians (mainly from the Brazzaville side of the river) in Paris, notably Tchico Tchicaya, Passi-Jo, Ballou Canta and Nianzi Gaulard, "L'Amiral Cheri-Gau," the star of today's offering, Conspiration (Savas SA 30.0048).

There's not much to say about this one except it's a primo example of mid-'80s Congo rumba at its best. Enjoy!


L'Amiral Cheri-Gau & Les Officiers of African Music - Ce Combat de la Vie

L'Amiral Cheri-Gau & Les Officiers of African Music - Mth Amour

L'Amiral Cheri-Gau & Les Officiers of African Music - Tungu

L'Amiral Cheri-Gau & Les Officiers of African Music - La Musique est une Science

Download Conspiration as a zipped file here.