Give the Drummer Some's
Favorite Downloads from the MP3 Blogosphere
Way back in Volume 84 of Mining the Audio Motherlode, I served up a selection of albums adorned with some particularly audacious cover art. Well, one glance at (three of) the marvels presented below reveals that there's more gold in them there virtual cut-out bins. For instance, have you spied many record jackets more vibrantly arresting than Tak Shindo's Mganga? (The music is just as good by the way.) Or how about Kenny Graham's Moondog and Suncat Suites, which happens to be sporting a reproduction of Joan Miró's "Dog Howling at the Moon." Wow! And finally, check out the inkage on Pello el Afrikáno's wonderful Maria Caracoles. It perfectly captures visually the wild ride your ears are about to take. (Personally, I was thrilled to stumble on this particular artifact. It's got to be the one killer cover not included in Pablo Yglesias's feast for the eyes ¡Cocinando!: Fifty Years of Latin Album Cover Art.
While there are other blogs out there focusing entirely on the good and bad in the world of record cover graphics, Mining the Audio Motherlode is content to dwell primarily in the realm of aural stimulation. Of course, it doesn't hurt to take a few peaks along the way.
A perceptive, meticulous ethnomusicologist, Tak Shindo paid the bills by writing scores and assisting music production in Hollywood (he apprenticed with Miklós Rózsa). Born in Sacramento, Shindo had been interred in the concentration camp for Japanese Americas at Manzanar for two years before joining the service in 1944. Record collectors revere him for his string of evocative ethnographic releases, including this gorgeous treasure, from the late 1950s.
Farid el Atrache ~ "Awal Hamsa"
(Blog: Snap, Crackle & Pop)
Oud to the Last Drop
This live recording of oud maestro Farid el Atrache, performing in concert before a boisterous and adoring Egyptian crowd, is a thrill to behold. The scene here doesn't approach the frenzied abandon prevalent at many of Oum Kalsoum's storied live performances, but this Syrian-born artist is given the full rock-star treatment. (It didn't hurt that he was a belly-dancer-shagging matinee idol who starred in over thirty films.)
Kenny Graham & His Satellites ~ "Moondog and Suncat Suites"
From "Suncat Suite": Sunstroke (mp3)
A swinging modernist of the first order, British saxist and composer Kenny Graham's first famous conflagration was a combo he called his Afro Cubists! When tapes of Moondog's act made it across the drink, many dismissed it as primitive rubbish, but Graham heard it for the sophisticated art that is was. The performances on this remarkable album (engineered by a young Joe Meek!) are inspired by the genius of—and delivered in appreciative homage to—the horn-helmeted oracle of 53rd Street.
Rock and Roll Away the Stone
Take a break from poking around the Interweb for Volumes 3 and 4 of this crucial series to take in the majesty of the performances collected here on Volumes 1 and 2.
Pello el Afrokán y Su Orquesta ~ "Maria Caracoles"
(Blog: …Si Se Rompe Se Compone...)
From the album: Oye, No Volveré Contigo (mp3)
El Padre del Ritmo
"The Mozambique is played with twelve conga drums, two bass drums, three bells, a frying pan, four trumpets and three trombones," explained Pedro Izquierdo (known universally as "Pello el Afrikáno") of his greatest creation. It was July 1963, in a televised performance at the Unversity of Havana, when Pello first unleashed the outsized horn-and-drum troupe he convened to play his new manic, call-and-response-drenched rhythm. The heart-in-your-throat spectacle immediately enthralled those present and watching at home—and the entire Latin music universe soon thereafter.
Listen to my radio show Give the Drummer Some—Tuesdays 6-7pm, on WFMU and Fridays 9 to noon—on WFMU's web stream Give the Drummer Radio.
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