Pete Rodriguez - El Rey del Boogaloo (1966-69)

«Massive Boogaloo album, with loads of catchy grooves all the way through! Pete & his band were one of the best of the Latin soul era, & this album's certainly one of their strongest. Includes 'Guagaloo', 'Pete's Boogaloo', & 'Do the Boogaloo'. Hard funky & very upbeat all the way through. If someone asked you what the definition of Latin Soul was, this would be the album to play for them! A fantastic little album of Latin Soul -- a perfect example of why Pete was known as the 'King Of The Boogaloo' during the 60s! The group's having a non-stop party on the album -- breaking it hard with heavy piano lines, rumbling bass underneath the grooves, tight timbales, & some shouted lyrics in English that are always very catchy. The cut, 'I Like It Like That', is the sort of groover that you'll be singing for years -- even after hearing it only once -- & the album's filled with all great cuts. 14 tracks in all, packaged in digipak format. Vampi Soul. 2003.» (Amazon)

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Opa - Goldenwings / Magic Time (1976-77)

«Hugo Fattoruso, born in Montevideo, Uruguay, began his musical career as a prodigious and somewhat reluctant piano student at the age of four. By the time he was nine his father Antonio formed El Trio Fattoruso by drafting Hugo’s younger brother Jorge on drums, with Hugo on accordion and Antonio on "inverted bucket bass" (using a broom as the neck, and a cord as the instrument’s single string). This trio performed in street festivals, covering the variety of styles used in Uruguay’s carnivals (boleros, murgas, tangos, etc.), giving Hugo an education in the rich harmonic stuff of disparate musical styles.
At the age of 16 Hugo moved to the upright bass and began his tenure as the under-aged member of The Hot Blowers, a swing band that toured throughout Latin America in the late 1950s. This period could be seen as a second important milestone in Hugo’s harmonic education, hammering home the concepts of improvisation and musical interplay.
By the early 1960s, rock’n’roll began to shake the world’s foundation, and Hugo set out to express himself in that medium by forming Los Shakers, where he and his brother shared song writing, singing and guitar responsibilities. Los Shakers were a huge success throughout Latin America, as they were able to mold the complexities of bossa’s harmonies, Uruguay’s urban song style, candombe rhythms and the backbeat of rock into a new and contagious form.
By the late 1960s the influence of jazz, and of the Afro-Uruguayan rhythm of candombe, took Hugo to New York City, where he formed the group Opa. In Opa Hugo played keyboards and sang, while his brother played drums, and childhood friend Ringo Thielmann played bass. Opa’s mixture of jazz, rock, Brazilian harmonies and rhythms, and Uruguay’s African-flavored music (candombe) gave this band a distinctive voice, and garnered them recognition among musicians in the then growing "Latin jazz" scene. Opa released two albums on their own, Goldenwings and Magic Time. Opa’s music served to influence the next generation of Uruguayan musicians, continuing the Fattoruso’s impact on Uruguayan musical culture. From that point on Hugo travelled the U.S. and worked with a variety of artists.» (bigworldmusic)

Osvaldo Fattoruso and Blbs drinking mate.

«In 1997, it came as a quite a surprise when Fantasy reissued Opa’s albums Goldenwings (1976) and Magic Time (1977) on a single 74-minute CD – surprising because this fusion trio had only a very small following; its albums were far from big sellers, and the original LP versions were in print for only a few years. If one notices some similarity between the melodic blend of jazz, rock, funk, pop and Brazilian music heard on this disc and Airto Moreira’s CTI dates of the 1970s, it’s no coincidence – Moreira produced and played percussion on both albums. Opa members Hugh Fattoruso (keyboards, vocals), George Fattoruso (drums, vocals, percussion) and Ringo Thielmann (bass, vocals) often worked with the percussionist and his wife Flora Purim in the 1970s, and his influence clearly rubbed off. It’s regrettable that Opa was never as commercially successful as either Moreira or Purim, although this CD points to the fact that it wasn’t due to a lack of rewarding material». (AMG)

Many thanx to Blbs (see pic) for this post.

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Mick Wills - Fern Hill (1988)

«Guitarist and songwriter Mick Wills is a close pal of Bevis Frond frontman Nick Saloman. Wills and Saloman played and recorded together in a band called the Parthenogenetick Brotherhood of Woronzow. Woronzow is a pet label project of Saloman’s, hence this record’s issue in 1988, and its eventual very limited CD release on Acme in 1995. Much of the disc falls into the trad folk and blues category with one or two notable exceptions. The title track is a six-string workout that is almost reel, in feel and structure; it departs in the turnaround that is more Anglo than Celtic in style. On "The Storm," one is reminded of Michael Chapman’s tune "The Rainmaker," where the English Channel provides accompaniment in the form of waves and swells as Wills moves into the folk-blues, bending and pulling the hell out of his strings, varying tempos, and allowing the waves to provide a kind of percussive atmosphere. One listen and it’s obvious: the guy’s a monster guitar picker. One of the previously mentioned exceptions is "Jam #3-Extracted Decebelia," which features Wills burning up a blues jam on an electric guitar, Cyke Bancroft on alto saxophone, and Graham Cummings on organ. Saloman participates as a duet partner on the gorgeous tunes "Saxifrage" and "Waltz." The guitar interplay is as telepathic as Ronnie Woods and Keith Richards, but tougher, more fluid, and certainly not as burnt out sluggish as all that. The finest track on the disc is its closer, "She Looked Down," with vocals by Jenny Brown. It’s a lengthy tune, with Saloman playing lead electric guitar, bass, and drums. However, it’s Wills and Brown who shine here. Wills’ folk styles are so fluid, so silvery and knotty he’s like Richard Thompson or Martin Carthy with his traditional material, but so much faster and so much darker, using diatonic fourth and eights to punch up the standard minor key lines of his melody. Brown doesn’t enter the tune until almost three minutes in, after some lengthy interplay by Saloman and Wills. The lyrics are simply adapted from old world folk songs, like something out of Steeleye Span or Fairport in their true neo-traditionalist period. But half way through the track’s nine minutes, there is a break with tradition. Although the melody remains throughout, the song drifts, hither and yon, transforming itself into a psychedelic folk/acid jam, ending up in some other place and time, far from the territory it began in. It’s too bad this set isn’t readily available, as fans of Bevis Frond would get a kick out of it, and Wills varies it so much there is something for almost everyone here.» (Thom Jurek, All Music Guide)

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Ismael Ledesma - Music Around the World: Paraguay (1998)

«Ismael Ledesma was born in the town of Lambarré ( Paraguay) en 1962. He played his first notes on the harp with his father when aged five years old. His career as a musician started in his mother’s group, Los Madrigales, which appeared in different evening concerts in the town of Asunción, in various private and social events. At the end of his secondary school studies Ismael was invited to France by his uncle Kike Lucena who had lived in Paris since the 70’s. In 1982 he travelled to Paris in order to join the circle of Latin American musicians in the capital. There he joined some of the diverse groups of those times. In 1985 he decided to pursue a solo career. In parallel to his artistic activities Ismael perfected his French, enrolling at the University of Sorbonne in Language and French Civilisation. He also became a student at the International Music Conservatoire of Paris, Alfred de Vigny.

His first concert as a pure soloist took place in Paris at the Theatre du Marais. It was at this time that Ismael decided to bring his own compositions to the scene. This was a risky decision as Latin music is often considered as “exotic” in Europe and is presented purely as folk-lore music. Ismael looked at breaking this stereotype and to creating a new platform for Latin American music by openly showing his own new musical ideas and by singly interpreting his own compositions. Ismael has made 13 CDs with different producers: French, German, Swiss and Paraguayan. Ismael Ledesma is thought of not so much as a world-harpist, as a Universal Harpist!» (ismaelledesma.com)

Biography also available in Spanish, French and Guarani.

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Bhundu Boys - The Shed Sessions 1982-1986 (2001)

«The most commercially and creatively successful act ever to emerge from Zimbabwe, the Bhundu Boys embodied the world music zeitgeist of the mid-'80s. Creators of a frenetic, guitar-dominated style they dubbed "jit," they fused airy melodies, shimmering harmonies, and pulsating rhythms drawn from across the African continent to make music that was both alien and accessible. Taking their name from the guerrillas who backed Robert Mugabe in his successful war to win Zimbabwe's independence from Britain, the Bhundu Boys formed in April 1980 in the city of Harare, which translates literally (and, sadly, prophetically) as "death everywhere." Lead guitarist Rise Kagona assembled the original lineup, which also included singer/guitarist Biggie Tembo, bassist David Mankaba, keyboardist Shakie Kangwena, and drummer Kenny Chitsvatsva. Making do with homemade instruments, the Bhundu Boys cut their teeth playing Western pop covers in township beer halls, and were a local phenomenon by the time they were discovered by erstwhile property developer Steve Roskilly, who cut their earliest sessions in his home studio, Shed. Their 1981 debut single, "Hatisitose," topped the Zimbabwean charts for three months straight, and in the years to follow the band scored three more national number ones with "Baba Munini Francis," "Wenhamo Haaneti," and "Ndimboze."

The Bhundu Boys' ascent to international fame began when Owen Elias and Doug Veitch, owners of the fledgling Discafrique label, traveled from London to Harare in search of artists to sign. There they befriended Roskilly, and on his encouragement cut a deal to reissue the band's records in the U.K. Elias and Veitch also plotted to bring the Bhundu Boys to Britain to tour, but when funding dried up Discafrique turned to Scottish promoter Gordon Muir, who in time took over the band's management. Most critical to the Bhundu Boys' growing momentum was the endorsement of BBC Radio One DJs John Peel and Andy Kershaw, both of whom played their Discafrique LPs Shabini and Tsvimbodzemoto incessantly – a few years later, Kershaw even served as best man at Tembo's wedding. In 1987 Muir brokered a landmark deal with WEA, reportedly the most lucrative ever signed by a world music act, and while at work on their major-label debut, the Bhundu Boys opened three nights for Madonna at Wembley Stadium, playing to a crowd of 240,000 at the personal request of the Material Girl herself. But their 1988 WEA debut, True Jit, was a disaster, sacrificing the elegant simplicity of their earlier work for an over-produced, Westernized sound that alienated their core fan base. The 1989 follow-up, Pamberi, was no better, and WEA terminated their contract soon after.

The Shed Sessions: 1982-1986 comprise the two albums that Zimbabwe's Bhundu Boys recorded at Harare's Shed Studios between 1982 and 1986. It's where Biggie Tembo and the rest of the band developed their jit-jive style and created a classic sound with intricately interlocking guitar parts. Comprised of two LPs, Shabini and Tsvimbodzemoto, this is really the legendary sound of the band, spawning four number one singles at home and establishing their reputation overseas. This CD not only collects the songs from those albums, but adds more, for a total of 28 cuts, all powered by some storming guitar work. But while they show their fire on tracks like "Pachedu," they also take on the feel of more traditional mbira music on the moody "Manhenga."

It's ironic that they should hit their creative high point so early in their career, never recapturing the spirit that made this music so remarkable and glittering. From here they'd move to England, but in the '90s everything would fall apart, as members died of AIDS and Biggie Tembo hanged himself after being asked to leave the band. A tragic end that wasn't foreseen in some of the best guitar music to emerge from Africa.» (AMG, click here for the full bio)

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Le World... Cuba: Los Exitos de los Años "50"

Benny Moré, Rolando La ‘Serie and Tony Camargos have had considerable success in Cuba and the world over in the 50s. Omly Benny Moré is still famous today and considered a Cuban music god. The three musicians were regrouped in this compilation for their highly similar voices and repertoires.

Maximilian Bartolomeo Moré (1919-1963), “el barbaro del ritmo”, was born to a modest African family settled in Santa Isabel de Lajas. He was very young when he started learning music with his brothers. One of his uncles from Congo taught him how to play the guitar and the congas. […] In 1940 he set off to Havana. There he won several singing competitions and […] was noticed by the already famous Conjunto Matamoros. He played in one of their records and in 1945 he took part to a tour in Mexico with them. He obtained a visa that allowed him to go to Mexico as often as he wished to. His recitals at Mexico Citu’s prestigious Rio Rosa cabaret were steps towards fame throughout Latin America. He met Lalo Montané with whom he founded the Fantasma Duet. In 1948, as mambo appeared in Mexico, Benny Moré was immediately seduced by this new rhythm and enriched his Afro-Cuban genre with it.

When he came back to Cuba in 1950, Benny Moré had become a star throughout Latin America and was given a triumphant welcome. […] He later joined the famous Bebo Valdés’ orchestra as well as Ernesto Duarte’s. Then he joined forces with trumpet player Armentero Chocolate to found his own line-up. From 1953 to 1963, the Banda Gigante became increasingly successful and helped Benny Moré rank among the greatest artists.

Rolando La ‘Serie was among the singers of the Cuban popular genre. Born in Las Villas in central Cuba, he made his first steps to music playing the kettledrums in Santa Clara’s local band. […] In 1945, he had become quite famous in Havana. […] He liked and was extremely gifted for imitating great singers.

In 1952, Benny Moré appointed him as his orchestra’s drummer. He was then noticed by the record company gema with which he recorded his successes. Gema had the great idea to have pianist Bebo Valdés’ Orchestra accompany him. Following this, Rolando La ‘serie became a star. […] He released over 30 records and won a Gold Disc in 1959.

Tony Camargo was renowned in the 1950’s big Cuban perios as one of the most gifted Mexican singers in the Cuban genre. He was lucky enough to play with the time’s best orchestras and had the privilege of singing in duet with Benny Moré. In the rare as well as precious songs featured in this compilation, Tony Camargo is accompanied by two of the Jazz Band genre’s “big shots”, chucho Rodriguez and Luis Gonzalez. (From the liner notes).

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Freshlyground - Nomvula (2004)

«Freshlyground is a South African Afro-fusion band that was formed in Cape Town in 2002. The band members are from South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Stylistically, Freshlyground incorporates elements of traditional South African music (such as kwela and African folk), blues and jazz, as well as features of indie rock. The lead singer is Zolani Mahola whose distinctive voice contributes much to the band's unique sound.

Freshlyground launched their debut album, Jika Jika, in early 2003. The great success of this album ultimately kick-started their career and re-affirmed their reputation as a fresh and vibrant young face in South African music. The much-needed exposure from the album resulted in an invitation for the band to perform at both the Harare International Festival of the Arts and the Robben Island African Festival. At the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA), Freshlyground performed with Zimbabwean musician Oliver Mtukudzi, who is also renowned for his diverse blending of different African music genres.

The band went on to perform alongside local legends Miriam Makeba, Stanley Clarke and Femi Kuti at the North Sea Jazz Festival, held during April in Cape Town. July also marked a break from the recording studio for the band, who had been working hard on their then unreleased album Nomvula. The band took this time to perform at the Villa Celimontana Festival in Rome, Italy.[…]

Finally, in late 2004, Freshlyground released their very successful album, Nomvula. Although the uptake of the album was initially slow, it eventually went on to achieve double platinum status locally. Initial success was largely due to the catchy, feel-good, lyrics of Doo Be Doo, which enjoyed significant play on local radio, it also covered in Indonesian by singer Gita Gutawa.

Freshlyground's latest album Ma' Cheri was released on September 3, 2007. […]

A song by Colombian pop star Shakira and Freshlyground has been chosen as the official anthem of this summer's World Cup. The song, "Waka Waka (Time for Africa)", […] is based upon a traditional African soldiers' song named "Zangalewa". Shakira and Freshlyground will perform the song at the pre-tournament Kick-Off concert in Soweto on 10 June. It will also be sung at the opening ceremony and at the final on 11 July.» (Wikipedia)

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