Give the Drummer Some's
Favorite Downloads from the MP3 Blogosphere
As you read this, your dutiful Miner is dashing headlong toward a small, off-the-grid cabin on the Maine coast, desperate to put down his pickaxe and pick up a good book and a hefty dose of radio silence. Yes, after the past six months of dizzying downloads, a brief respite from the great sound of sound is seriously in order. So enjoy this mega-post surveying the best posts so far in 2011 (and be sure to follow the jump to page two for a list of readers faves) while Mining the Audio Motherlode takes the next two weeks off.
MINER'S MID-YEAR FAVORITES...
Moussa Doumbia ~ "Keleya"
(Blog: Exp Etc)
Soul Brother #1A
"Godfather of Soul wannabes sprang up like kudzu in the 1960s and '70s, and, outside of Chicago and Detroit, the most badass Brown imitators per hectare came from the gritty urban centers of East and West Africa. Anwar Richard and Matata ruled Nairobi, Geraldo Pino & the Heartbeats concquered Lagos, but the heaviest of heavyweight Afrofunkateers may have been Mali's sax-playing, leather-lunged soul belter Moussa Doumbia, who toiled in semiobscurity in the nightclubs of Ivory Coast's capital city Abidjan. Doumbia was a cool cat but no copycat. While others merely reproduced the James Brown sound, Doumbia seemingly conjured, on a nightly basis, the very soul of Soul Brother No. 1 itself. His massive funk workouts featured all the withering, from-the-gut grunts and squeals, but they were layered over a dense thicket of his native Dioula rhythms—along with, of course, skronking horns and skanky guitars. This French compilation of Doumbia's rare singles and one album may be the greatest single-disc trove of African funk ever released." (From my Favorites of 2007 write-up)
The Singing Bones
I first became aware of the miraculous blog Singing Bones when Ana-B, its estimable curator, guest-posted over at Derek's Daily 45. Ever since, I've ravenously pounced on each new offering—one magnificent 7" slab of soul after another. Last Xmas eve, Ana posted an epic, 11-song sequence, which I downloaded and aired on my radio show in tribute. (If you do nothing else today, give it a listen.)
Gideon Nxumalo ~ "Jazz Fantastia"
(Blog: Electric Jive)
"True to its name in both form and spirit, Gideon Nxumalo’s 1962 Jazz Fantasia is a key document of modernist South African jazz. Vital, ambitious, consummate in conception and execution, it is perhaps the crucial small group recording of the early 1960s, and one of the few complete sets by a small modernist group to have been released on LP during these years. Nxumalo’s compositions are taut and boppish, in places unmistakably water-marked by the language of mbaqanga jazz, but speaking fluent bop – ‘Isintu’ in particular knits the melancholic mbaqanga chords which underpin the piece seamlessly into the bebop-styled changes of the main section." (Description by Fin, at Electric Jive)
[Since this LP was presented, Electric Jive has posted another stunner by Gideon Nxumalo.]
Cheikh Imam ~ "Chante Negm"
(Blog: Afro Soul Descarga)
The story of Richard Nixon's laughable skedaddle to the Middle East in June of 1974 became rich fodder for the duo of Ahmed Fouad Negm, a poet and folk hero who spent nearly two decades in prison for his subversive writing, and the blind troubadour Sheikh Imam Eissa. Together they wrote and performed songs lauding Che Guevara, denouncing the war in Vietnam and mercilessly ridiculing every Egyptian leader since 1962, when they began their partnership. (Read more from my July 2, 2008 post at Beware of the Blog)
S.D. Burman ~ "Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi"
(Blog: Parties, Sarees and Melodies)
Real Men Dig Kishore Kumar
Inspired by the Marx Brothers' antics, this 1958 comedy is landmark in Indian cinema. The account "The Making of Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi," by Suguna Sundaram, is almost as hysterical as the film apparently is. Read it here.
Tony Iglio ~ "Drug Store"
(Blog: Mondo Ribelle)
Say Yes to Drug Store
"Unknown Library LP by Iglio and his band. Full of weird exploito-psych-jazz, Ive never come across this artist or label, must be his only release I reckon. Anyway, it's rare, it looks great and it sounds wild." (Anonymous commenter, at iueke.com)
Ghetto Brothers ~ "Power-Fuerza"
(Blog: Resin Hits)
Brothers Gonna Work It Out
"This album contains a message; a message to the world, from the Ghetto Brothers. The Ghetto Brothers, a community organization dedicated to bridging the ever-increasing gap that exists between society and minority groups, believe music to be the common language of the world. Through music, they are able to inform society of the plight of the 'little people' in their quest for recognition. Therefore, the music of the Ghetto Brothers serves as a way of communication. If the Ghetto Brothers' dream comes true, the world will learn that the 'little people' wish to be acknowledged; wish to be properly educated in order for them to pass on their knowledge to their children and proudly inform them about their heritage and culture, and be a functioning part of the growth of America. If the Ghetto Brothers' dream comes true, the 'little people' will be 'little people' no more, and make their own mark in this world. Listen to the Ghetto Brothers…….and take heed." (From the dust jacket of Power-Fuerza [Salsa, 1971])
Fred Jordan ~ "The Frost is on the Pumpkin"
[Password = gonzoFJFO]
Workman Life Effort
"In the autumn of 1959, Fred attracted the attention of participants in the folk song revival when he appeared at the English Folk Dance and Song society’s festival wearing his everyday clothes – heavy boots, leggings and weather-defying hat. His singing drew immediate acclaim. Since then he has appeared with increasing regularity at concerts and clubs, with other country singers and also with revival performances. He enjoys concert and club work, where he sings with the straightforward ‘professionalism’ and unselfconsciousness common to most country singers. As a folk singer he may be classed with the best – and that best includes Harry Cox, George Maynard and Phil Tanner. Though he is still a young man he has the essential style of this older generation. His musical sense is very highly developed; his ability to make small rhythmical changes to suit the words of songs is marked and his use of melodic ornament is subtle and skillful. the quality of his voice may seem strange at first hearing, but it is not unique, and there is nothing here of an old man’s quaver, for Fred Jordan is in his prime." (Liners for Songs of a Shropshire Farm Worker)
Rashied Ali & Frank Lowe ~ "Duo Exchange"
(Blog: Free the Music)
One of the Great Duet Recordings of any Genre, Ever
"Duo Exchange dates from 1972 and reveals Frank Lowe still in the process of purging the overt Coltrane-isms from his improvising. The two collectively extemporized compositions here are not mere sequels to the cosmological visions of Ali's 'other' saxophone-drums duet record, Coltrane's own Interstellar Space. If anything, "Exchange Part 1" and "Exchange Part 2" are less orchestral, less unrelenting, and less flowing than the performances from that earlier record. The scale of Duo Exchange is more human; though there are moments of anguish and triumph commensurate with those on Interstellar Space, the context here is very, very different. Of particular interest in these performances is just how Lowe responds to Ali's virtuosity, his split-second ability to free-associate shards of metric patterns and his kaleidoscopic sense of percussive coloration. Lowe often lets go of his phrases such that his notes somehow fall in those small open cells of silence in Ali's otherwise overpowering detail. The more closely one listens, the more it becomes obvious that Lowe is assembling a steady beat from the wailing pull of his tenor sax against the coruscating push of Ali's kit. In this setting, Lowe is the chorus—the rueful and wise narrative agent—and Ali the flamboyant actor personifying the tragically incongruous circumstances that befall the individual as they follow the trajectory of hubris. It is clear even from this brief recording (barely over half an hour in length) that Frank Lowe is one of the most unique of "free" players, as his playing demonstrates how deeply he comprehends the serious risks involved in his aesthetic. Frank Lowe's art is a super-realistic one, because it is an art open to life and life's endlessly proliferating decisions, each of which is possessed of an integrity and gravity that is to be honored." (By Joe Milazzo, at One Final Note)
Brotherhood of Breath ~ "Brotherhood of Breath"
(Blog: Destination Out)
From September 11, 2006
"Brotherhood of Breath is an easy band to love. The proto-Brotherhood, leader McGregor’s Blue Notes, formed in South Africa: the very existence of this mixed-race ensemble was an affront to apartheid. Unwelcome and unable to secure gigs, the band headed north, eventually ending up in England, where they quickly fell in with a Who’s Who of late ’60s UK jazz players – the more adventurous among them, anyway." (Destination: Out)
[Brotherhood of Breath is available at Brian.]
Ila Vann ~ "The Ila Vann Collection"
(Blog: Funk My Soul)
Northern Soul Exposure
Exclusive to the essential Funk My Soul is this wonderful revelation: a collection of 45s released by the overlooked treasure Ila Vann. The best way to get to know Ms. Vann is to watch a series of charming YouTube videos (in three parts here, here and here). Now past 70, Vann continues to perform, mostly in Canada, where she's been living for quite some time. Tacked on the end of this custom collection (Vann never released a full-length LP) is a 2003 radio interview with British DJ Kevin Roberts. It's a delight to hear Vann's joy upon learning that her 1967 rendition of "Can't Help Lovin' that Man" had become a beloved Northern Soul Anthem.
Anne Briggs ~ "Classic Anne Briggs"
(Blog: Zero G Sound)
"Briggs herself managed to cut a highly idiosyncratic figure even on the folk scene, something of a haven for oddballs. Others may have spurned commercialism, but only Briggs seemed to have a problem with performing 'inside buildings': 'I used to love busking and impromptu stuff far more. I didn't like being on the stage, I didn't like being looked at, so I'd shut my eyes half the time, trying to shut it out.'" (Interview with Ms. Briggs in The Guardian, by Alexis Petridis)
Baden Powell & Vinícious de Moraes ~ "Os Afros-Sambas"
"There are countless records which people might point to as capturing the sound of MPB, samba, tropicalia and other Brazilian music styles of the 1960s and 70s. Os afro-sambas is yet another landmark in the development of the Brazilian sound. The lyrics are written by "O Poetinha" Vincius de Moraes, absolutely the premier voice of Brazilian poetry and music of the time (which, to Brasileiros, are almost the same anyway). The music features guest vocals from Betty Faria on a number of tracks and lots of Yoruba and Afro-Brazilian instrumentation such as agogôs, atabaques, and various drums and flutes related to the mixed religion of candomblé. The album is indeed an early example of what would become a central theme for much tropicalia and samba influence Brazilian pop, the worship of the Orixas, deities such as Iemanjá and Oxóssi. The opening track and tribute to the Orixá of plant and foliage, "Canto de Ossanha" quickly became a samba standard. The album is short, concise and composed of a singular but magnificent musical thought whose influence continues to be heard in the contemporary music of Brazil and elsewhere." (Description by Jocaine, at Shhh/Peaceful)
Ray Barretto ~ "Señor 007"
(Blog: Hippy DJkit)
"This is one of Ray Barretto's rarest albums. A killer 60s set of James Bond inspired Latin boogaloo jazzy numbers. These are all heavy hitting latin dance cuts. One of my favorite Ray Barretto albums of the 60s, a real gem from the pre-Latin Soul years! The album's a clear attempt to cash in on the cash in on the James Bond craze of the time, issued by United Artists, who were releasing the Bond films, but also had Ray under contract during the period too. But despite that simple gimmick, it's a great little set with a quality level that goes way beyond Bond soundtracks, or the usual from Barretto at the time! The tracks are all hard and groovy, with an excellent jazz feel with some killer arranging from Ray that's right up there with the work he did for his legendary Charanga Moderna album!" (Description by dj fanis, at Hippy DJKit)
Ric Colbeck ~ "The Sun Is Coming Up"
(Blog: Destination: Out)
From August 24, 2010 (reposted from 12/17/06)
"It’s always satisfying and not a little surprising when one of the grails of avant jazz turns out, when finally found, to deliver the goods. It’s as if, for one brief, blazing moment, one’s faith is restored, and justified (if not one’s dorkiness). This quartet session has been canonized by none other than ecstatic noise connoisseur Thurston Moore." (Description by Destination: Out)
[The Sun Is Coming Up is available at Hominis Canidae.]
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