South Africa

This is the third release in the Soul Safari presents series which focuses on early South African jive of the ’60s. All recordings were originally sourced from 78rpm shellac discs from the ILAM (International Library of African Music) archives.

Soul Safari started as a blog to showcase the music of Africa with a strong emphasis on South Africa. Now in its 6th year, Soul Safari is proud to present the third volume of the compilation 'Township Jive & Kwela Jazz', a collection of rare gems originally released as shellac 78's in the period 1960-1965 in South Africa.

On this third volume the selection features the gorgeous close harmony vocal groups singing in the tradition of American R & B and doo wop. But always with that typical South African swing and sung in the Zulu or Xhosa languages. DJ Eddy de Clercq who initiated this compilation, also selected a few tunes that stand for the transition from early jive to mbanqaga, a most democratic vocal style characterized by the typical 'groaning', a form of call and answer between the male leader (groaner) and female singers. Mbanqaga would follow up jive as the popular vocal music from 1965 onwards.

Kwela jazz knew many variations in which the original instrument, the penny whistle was traded in for accordion, violin, even a melodica, an instrument that also became widely popular in Jamaica. Similarities with uptempo ska can be heard in tunes by Kid Ma Wrong Wrong and Bra Sello featured on this compilation. Again an exciting selection of rare recordings from the heyday of South African Jive & Kwela. Truly music treasures from a long gone past.

1. Telegram Specials - Ngibosen Twist 2:23
2. The Young Stars - Izwe Liyasha 2:44
3. The Young Stars - Ulowa 2:25
4. The Lower Buttons - Intogeymy 2:24
5. The Lower Buttons - Nylon 2:54
6. Cowboy Superman & His Cowboy Sisters - Kudala Ngizula 2:17
7. Que Sisters - Manka Binde 2:47
8. Que Sisters - Nice Time 2:42
9. Flying Jazz Queens - Mangothobane 2:18
10. Flying Jazz Queens - Wamuhle Lomfana 2:28
11. Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje - Unjak' Upelile 2:18
12. Kid Ma Wrong Wrong - Five Two Six 2:24
13. Kid Ma Wrong Wrong - Gumba Gumba 800 2:21
14. Kid Ma Wrong Wrong - Seven Stitches 2:25
15. Kid Ma Wrong Wrong With The SDV Swing Band - Rock Phata 1001 2:41
16. Bra Sello - Lulu Part 4 2:26


Coletânea de raridades obscuras do black & soul & funk nacional.

Here the second batch of more incredible 60’s and 70’s soul and psych tunes from Brazil. If the first volume of Soul Braza was considered one of the best Soul compilations of 2011, this second volume is not behind that expectations, you will find here, along with some well known musicians, more obscure artists like “O Incrivel Manito”, “Os Diagonais”, “Toni Tornado” or “The Youngsters”, melting soul, samba rock, and psychedelic music. Others like “Parada 5” and “Trio Ternura” are also here represented. This musicians released some of the best Brazilian music in the '60s and '70s. This compilation is a summary of what went on during that period when soul music was everywhere, from the favelas to the most fashionable and popular parties in Brazilian cities. Here you will find some of the best tracks of Brazilian psychedelic soul music, fuzz, sweat and dancing. Soul Braza is fire!!! (No Smoke Records)

1. The Youngsters - Tema De Kiko 1:39
2. Erasmo Carlos - Mundo Deserto 2:32
3. Os Diagonais - Atras Do Sorriso 1:49
4. Toni Tornado - Osso Duro De Roer 2:35
5. Roberto Carlos - Nao Ha Dinheiro Que Pague 2:35
6. Fernando Mendes - Nao Vou Mudar 2:47
7. Trio Ternura - Uma Sombra Na Estrada 2:14
8. Miguel De Deus - Cinco Anos 4:53
9. Jerry Adriani - Se Pensamento Falasse 2:17
10. Parada - Represalia 2:52
11. Silvinha - E Minha Opiniao 2:20
12. The Pops - Garotinha 2:56
13. Arnaut Rodrigues - Reginela 2:41
14. Red Snakes - You Make Me A Fool 2:31
15. Os Selvagens - Coracao De Pedra 2:42
16. O Incrivel Manito - Tucks Theme 3:37


PELLO AND THE MOZAMBIQUE: A rhythm that galvanized Cuba
BY RAFAEL LAM (Special for Granma International)
September 25, 2000

IN 1963, Pedro Izquierdo, known as Pello el Afrokán—who recently passed away—created the mozambique, one of the hottest and most debated modern rhythms on the island.

In the wake of Eduardo Davidson’s pachanga rage, like a wizard or African griot Pello produced a primitive or more authentic sound of tom-tom and metal drums. It was like a call from the earth which scandalized many academics, but won public acclaim. It was a renewal of the conga lines dating back to the colonial period, and had the crowds dancing down the streets.

El Afrokán was born in 1933, a time of hunger and desolation for Cuba with the toppling of dictator Machado. He was the grandson of Mandingos who reproduced the drumming and rhythms of Africa on the island. "That’s the blood running through my veins," Pello told me when we met in his musical enterprise, named after Ignacio Piñeiro. "My father was one of the first percussionists in Belisario López’ band. I’m a cousin of Mongo Santamaría and the kings of percussion used to visit my house."

The creator of the mozambique started playing wherever he was needed, as well as working as a stevedore on the docks in his Havana barrio of Jesús María. He did commercial jingles for CMQ radio and in 1959 founded his own group, playing at the Havana’s mecca of cabaret, the Tropicana.

In 1962 he was already experimenting with the great tribe which would be the talk of that decade. Meanwhile, he also imparted his musical knowledge at the National Art Instructors’ School.

"The mozambique is played with 12 conga drums, two bass drums, three bells, a frying pan, four trumpets and three trombones. An innovation. The percussionists were exceptional, that’s my specialty. I created a set with five conga drummers."

The rhythm is an Afro-Cuban fusion that Pello called a stew: Abakuá, Yoruba, Congo, Carabalí and Jiribilla. Naturally, the rhythm is linked to a dance whose steps were devised by El Afrokán himself and later stylized by choreographer Guanari Amoedo. "The mozambique is walking, walking in time," its inventor defined it.

"I sang in Pello’s tribe," composer Evelio Landa recounts, "and I know the way in which he put together his compositions, without arrangements, with a drummer’s sensibility. But the whole thing worked."

Pello introduced the mozambique at the University of Havana and it had an enthusiastic response from the youth. It had its television debut in July 1963, when the Beatles were invading the world without permission. With great daring, Pello served up the mozambique as a wall of contention before the avalanche of pop music.

In the Radio Progreso studios and at that year’s carnival, the mozambique was an explosion only comparable to the Cuban salsa boom. Surviving film footage reveals that the mozambique carried away a sea of people. The legend began and is still resonant.

With Pello, the mozambique traveled as far as Paris’ Olympia Theater in 1965, touring half the world. In 1979 it slipped into the Carnegie Hall and Japan. Stars like Eddie Palmieri, Carlos Santana, Issac Delgado and many others recorded cover versions.

Pello was laid to rest on September 12 with full Abakuá burial rites and the sound of the mozambique performed by grandson Omar and his group.

1. Mozambique 3:45
2. Ritmo Maravilloso 4:14
3. Herido de Sombra 3:27
4. Digan Lo Que Digan 4:41
5. San Luis Blues 4:15
6. Qué Es Esto Que Llega 3:44
7. Mozambique Internacional 3:34
8. Me Siento Feliz 3:57
9. China Baila el Mozambique 3:23
10. Arrímate Pa' Cá 5:21


Light In The Attic & Waxing Deep team up again for Si, Para Usted: The Funky Beats of Revolutionary Cuba Volume 2 – taking up where the first volume left off with another a fully-licensed compilation of Cuban funk, jazz, psych, son, and soul from the last four decades. Highlights include the deep funk of Safari Salvaje by Los Rápidos, a mesmerising funk workout from an obscure band that in the 70s won the Cuban equivalent of American Idol; Al Sonar la Hora, a funk-rock classic from Los Barba who, despite being one of Cuba’s most popular bands ever, never recorded a single LP; and Vanguardia y Juventud by Sonopop, absurdly unlikely party music from teenaged members of the Communist Youth Militia.

The series has already received fantastic critical praise, with The LA Times calling Volume 1 “sublime”, Spin giving it 4-stars, and Pitchfork claiming it was “what every revolution should sound like”.

All of the tracks were re-mastered from the ORIGINAL tapes, kept by the Cuban government in a dusty Havana warehouse. Given the poor quality of Cuban vinyl, this means the music on Si, Para Usted has a sound quality previously unavailable. Quite simply, the music has never sounded this good.

Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna
This retrospective gathers songs from Cuba's 1960s and 70s, a time when global pop was blending with the country's traditional music.

One of my fantasies is to be able to wander through the complete archives of the world's great record labels, neatly ordered and annotated. The history of recorded sound only stretches back to 1878 (1857 if you count the phonautograph), but in that time, output has been prodigious, on the order of millions of recordings, many of which are lost. How cool would it be to walk into an Indiana Jones-like warehouse with the entire unabridged catalog of Columbia Records, a company that's made recordings since 1888? Of course, no such place exists-- the many large companies that made records worldwide through the middle of the 20th century had no central warehouses where everything was gathered, and the smaller labels often suffered from lack of organization and resources. If your offices burned in a war, well, that was it for your archives.

Cuba's EGREM (Empresa de Grabaciones y Ediciones Musicales-- literally "Music Recording and Publishing Company") is one of the many labels whose history I'd love to tour. It is the product of revolution, founded in 1964 after Castro and his government had consolidated their power, and it's been the sole entity responsible for documenting Cuban sounds on record ever since. While the generic name reflects the ideology of its communist overlords, the label has played host to a mind-boggling array of soulful, vital, innovative, and inventive music. On the first Si, Para Usted volume, Waxing Deep exposed a clutch of funky, sometimes psychedelic recordings from the 1970s and 80s that showed that the changes that swept through the world's pop music in the decade previous didn't leave Cuba behind in spite of the suffocating political environment. Here, they've gone even deeper, jettisoning many of the known names of the first volume in favor of mostly unfamiliar artists.

Some of these artists recorded only one or two songs, owing mostly to the arbitrary nature and complete lack of business sense that characterized the Cuban music business. Los Barba, for example, was one of the most popular bands in the country but never made an album. Which is a shame, because "Al Sonar La Hora" suggests they were exceedingly capable, with swelling horn accents, slashing psychedelic guitar, tweaked organ solos, and dead-on harmony vocals that come out of nowhere for the chorus. Most recordings made in Cuba were by acts on the government payroll, but there are a few LPs of amateur bands floating around. These featured non-professional (as in, not employed by the government) groups who performed well in national arts and culture festivals, and the examples included here are inspired. Combo Los Caribe's "Andalucía" has elements of surf, exotica, and 60s now-sound records layered onto its Cuban rhythms, while on "Safari Salvaje", Los Rápidos open with a wild Afro-Cuban barrage of drums and incantation, only to blindside you with a crackling drum fill and an onslaught of chicken scratch guitar.

As much as they tried, Cuba's censors couldn't beat back the tide of American music. The island is close enough to Miami to hear its radio stations, which is probably how Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna managed a version of Ides of March's 1970 horn rock hit "Vehicle". Theirs is a crazy, funky instrumental that ends with a garage rock organ quotation of Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor". Cuban musicians may have operated with a great many more constraints than their counterparts up north, but their exploratory spirit and artistic invention was no less vibrant, and it's great that we're finally getting to hear some of this music, presented with a great deal of background information. I'm certainly hoping for a Volume 3. -Joe Tangari

The original Si Para Usted lived up to its subtitle; it was one of the funkiest compilations of 2007, documenting a largely hidden wave of raw groove bubbling all over, but rarely reaching beyond, the island of Cuba in the '60s and '70s. This second volume more than lives up to the legacy of its predecessor. Indeed, the sound quality is even better this time around -- the tracks are remastered from the original tapes, where some of Vol. 1 sounded sourced from vinyl. What's astonishing here -- though it shouldn't be -- is how irresistible these tracks are. From the lilting lounge groove of los Brito's "El 4-5-6," which opens the disc, to the acid-rock funk of los Caneyes' "Suspirando por el Chikichaka" that follows, and throughout this hour-plus of music, the rhythms never cease to be gloriously ass-shaking and complex, easily the equal of anything being put out by Fania Records in the U.S. at the time, or anything being played on U.S. radio. The near-chaos that ensues when the organ solo kicks in on los Rápidos' "Safari Salvaje," not to mention the lush, Isaac Hayes-style orchestration of Juan Pablo Torres' "Y Aparecío el Trombón," or the psychedelic weirdness of Mirtha y Raúl's "El Sueño de Andría," make it almost impossible to believe these tracks were recorded under the auspices of an oppressive Communist-controlled record industry, but they were. The thick booklet tells the story of artists' lives under the Castro regime, from censorship that kept particular musicians off state television for years for seemingly arbitrary reasons, to haphazard distribution based not on sales, but on equality -- records went wherever the bureaucracy decided they should go, with no thought to whether the public in that part of Cuba wanted that particular single or album. The digital era has brought about a wholesale reinvestigation of otherwise forgotten music, and compilations like this one are a fantastic argument for continued crate-digging. -AllMusic Review by Phil Freeman

1. Los Brito - El 4-5-6 2:54
2. Los Caneyes - Suspirando por el chikichaka 6:06
3. Los Rápidos - Safari salvaje 6:18
4. Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna - Vehicle 3:18
5. Grupo Monumental - Tremendo tremendo 2:57
6. Juan Pablo Torres - Y aparecío el trombón 3:37
7. Los Brito - Cuando llego a mi casa 4:11
8. Los Caribes - Andalucía 3:30
9. Sonopop - Vanguardia y juventud 3:11
10. Grupo FA5 - El siglo de libertad 3:52
11. Los Llamas - Siboney 4:00
12. Los Barba - El cristal 3:19
13. Los Barba - Al sonar la hora 3:21
14. Mirtha Y Raul - El sueño de Andría 4:46
15. Hilario Duran - El son de Victoria 5:17
16. Los Papines - Para qué niegas 4:27

Burkina Faso

Oriki Music release that brings together some of his hardest to catch recordings from the mid-late 70's. Pure funkiness & afrobeat w/ laid back manding soul.


Amadou Balake is a soulful singer from Burkina Faso who moved to Guinea to begin his music career. After a few years he returned to Burkina Faso with Coulibaly Tidiani, a Guinean guitarist with him. They recorded several singles and an LP for the local CVD label in the mid 70's. Balake would go on to record in Ivory Coast, Nigeria, New York, and Paris and more recenttly would sing for Africando.

This 2008 collection has some of the earlier and funkier songs that Amadou Balake recorded for CVD and for the Ivory Coast based Sacodisc label. It is a great look at Balake's earliest recordings. The eight CVD recordings, made from 1975-76 on this collection feature Tidiani on guitar. His spectacular guitar work gives these songs a bluesy-feel, sharing a lot in common with the Manding music associated with Mali and Guinea. Three of these tracks are from Balake's CVD LP which was recorded in Ghana and have a better sound than the others which were recorded with a Nagra reel-to-reel two-track tape machine. Although the sound quality on these five tracks may be lacking a little clarity, the quality of the musicians still shines througn. Five other songs on this collection were released by the Sacodisc label from 1978-79. Wayisjelequeyele is from the Taximan album, while the Super Bar Konon Mousso album supplies its title track and Aminata Du The. Although uncredited in the liner notes, the track Warba was also first released on a Sacodisc single. The Sacodisc recordings are funkier affairs more influenced by the afro music movement that was strong in West Africa at the time. Amadou Balake would later move on to New York and subsequently Paris, recording albums with a greater latin influence. The salsa-influenced track Yamba was originally release by Sacodisc in 1979 on the A New York LP. -The Nomadic Tribesman

A definite eclectic groove here – music that has its roots in Mandingo and Dioula rhythms, but also features a fair bit of American funk and soul touches too – sometimes in the heavy grooves on the bottom, sometimes in the rumbling basslines and guitar parts too. The collection is a wonderful look at the early work of singer Amadou Balake – and it features material from the years before his international fame, when he was rooting around in a variety of wonderful styles. There's a gritty quality to most of the work here – and the collection is one that sits nicely next to some of the rougher-edged Nigeria Special sets on Soundway – offering up a similarly refreshing look at a slice of the African scene of the 70s that too often gets obscured by familiar world music cliches. Balake's vocals are pretty great too – but we'll be honest in saying that it's the rhythms, instrumentation, and production of these tunes that we're really digging the most. -dustygroove

1. Djeli Fama 4:35
2. Doro Magni 5:37
3. Yamba 6:43
4. Aminata Du Thé 7:31
5. Wayisijelequeyele 6:21
6. Warba 4:46
7. Ligda Remba 3:55
8. Naaba Kougri 5:27
9. Super Bar Konon Mousso 5:26
10. Kambele-ba 4:13
11. Dounia Mokolou 6:22
12. Mousso Be Torola 4:31
13. Fanta 4:12


We are very fortunate to have Knitting Factory Records reissuing four of the classic Afrodisia Lijadu Sisters’ albums on LP/CD. The second re-release is 1977’s Mother Africa. This album features a different approach than their first record, Danger, which is heavy with funky Afro-rock beats. Mother Africa is primarily an acoustic affair which owes less to funk and more to traditional Yoruba music. Biddy Wright, who played many of the instruments on Danger, is back on acoustic and electric guitar and the band features talking drums and shekere. While most of the lyrics on Danger were sung in English, on Mother Africa Kehinde and Taiwo sing mostly in Yoruba.

“We didn’t really plan for Mother Africa to be in this style. It just developed that way. In the studio, we go with the spirit.” – Kehinde

The album opens and closes with two versions of “Osupa,” which is sung to the moon, asking her to light up the night, as she did when people sat outside their houses eating and storytelling, in earlier times. The first version, “Osupa I,” is a strictly acoustic song, whereas “Osupa II” features Biddy Wright’s killer electric guitar. The second track, “Iya Mi Jowo” (“mother please”), is a rearrangement of the Lijadu Sisters’ original 1968 recording for Decca. This was the first song that Taiwo wrote, when she and her identical twin sister noticed their mother was acting cold to them. The lyrics include, “whatever I have done to sadden you, mother, please, forgive me.” The third track, “Bayi L’ense,” reverts back to the funkier side of Danger, with Biddy providing some excellent electric guitar and bass. The song resonates with contemporary apala, fuji and waka music and addresses the “two-faced people” who used to criticize Taiwo for dating the white musician, Ginger Baker. “Dibe Nuwa” is sung in Yoruba and Ibo, and is a plea for peace in the world. The 1967-70 civil war between Federal Nigeria and its eastern state, Biafra (the home of the Ibo people), was still fresh in Nigerian minds, and its memory was influential in this song. -splintersandcandy

I hadn't heard the Lijadu Sisters before, but in the illustration on the front of one of their other rereleased albums there are two long-legged women bolting and gesturing like clock-hands in small pink shorts while an electrical wire catches fire, so I was expecting music like that, very active, very eruptive, somehow pink, and Mother Africa was a surprise, tranquil, unhurried, musically noncombative, a pair of voices rolling in harmony as though they were in church. The twins are Nigerian, Taiwo and Kehinde are their names, Fela Kuti was one of their second cousins, they name him as an influence, but his attention-getting force is not their style-- his shouts, his expostulations, his blasts of saxophone.

Their lilt is part of their appeal, persistent, unrelenting, hammock-serene, the kind of West African lilt that you hear, too, in palm wine music, absolutely firm and calm, even when the singers launch into funk, as they do here with "Bayi L'ense". The impression they give is one of women who will not be swayed from their essential selves, even if you aim a trumpet at them. All of the songs, bar one, have been adapted from Yoruba folk music, cleverly built into duets, music which swings and coils and coils, and which repeats itself not-quite-exactly, a habit of repetition common to all folk songs, not only ones from West Africa but ones from everywhere else as well, songs with refrains so that groups of friends can catch up easily, then follow along, and though we have only two singers here the album's relaxed sound is at the core a group-relaxation, the casualness of people sitting around, singing together, enjoying themselves. The lyrics to the first song mention "nightly parties, songs, plays, and jokes". "This is an ode to the moon," sings their collaborator Biddy Wright, a useful figure in their career, "the all-seeing eye from heaven. We call him a thief. Oh yes. We call him a thief, with a big eye, but only fondly, for he supplies the light for our nightly parties, songs, plays, and jokes". Wright helped with song-arrangement, he also played on all four of their main albums, and generally acted as a friend in an environment where women were rare, unless they were backing singers. Women as backing singers, yes, common, women as front-of-the-stage singers, no, unusual. Women on instruments, horrors, impossible, and so it goes.

Taiwo and Kehinde began their careers at the back and started moving to the front in 1969 when the Nigerian branch of Decca Records released their single, "Iya Mi Jowo" / "Jikele - Maweni". "Iya Mi Jowo" was their breakthrough song, and they reworked it for Mother Africa. It is sung by a daughter who wants to know what she has done to make her mother so distant and angry. Based on a true story, says Taiwo. Their mother wasn't speaking to them one day, and they didn't know why, so Taiwo sat at her feet and composed this song. Mission accomplished: Mother in tears. Song a success in more ways than one. Their first full-length album, Danger, came out in 1976, and Mother Africa in 1977. Two more albums followed quickly in 1978 and 1979, and then they began to travel in the 1980s, appearing in a British documentary about Nigerian pop music, touring in the UK and US, and performing overseas with King Sunny Adé. Then, disaster, intensely unfair, vivid, blaring, glaring, when Kehinde tripped in a New York stairwell, fell, and nearly died. She reports: "Then they said I would never walk again." Eventually she walked, but their career ended with the accident. The sisters still live together. -Deanne Sole

When Fela Anikulapo Kuti died in 1997 he was Nigeria’s most famous pop music figure. Thanks to the hit musical Fela! he still is. Moreover, just as that show broke on Broadway in the fall of 2009, Knitting Factory Records initiated an ambitious reissue program of Fela music that keeps the Afrobeat pioneer’s sounds in the air. 

In the mid-1970s, around the time the Nigerian government was mounting a brutal campaign against Fela for his political dissidence, twin sisters Taiwo and Kehinde Lijadu, cousins of Fela, were launching their own recording careers. With a budding reputation in Lagos and beyond (they had toured Europe and North America in 1972 in a band led by Cream drummer Ginger Baker), the sisters released Danger in 1976, followed by three more albums before the end of the decade.

The Lijadu Sisters became stars at home and garnered some international attention in the 1980s, most notably during their tour of the United States with King Sunny Ade in 1988. Taiwo and Kehinde settled in New York City after the Ade gig, but their hopes for a record deal were thwarted time and again. Then in 1996, Kehinde suffered life-threatening spinal and pelvic injuries from a fall, and the Lijadu Sisters weren’t heard from again.

Until last November, that is, when Knitting Factory Records reissued Danger. And last week, the label released Mother Africa, perhaps the rootsiest and most compelling of the sisters’ four 1970s albums. (The disco-influenced Sunshine, from 1978, will make its CD debut in late spring or summer, followed by 1979’s Horizon in the fall.)

Even in a time when seemingly every nook and cranny of world music has been plumbed for reissue material, Mother Africa comes as a quite a musical revelation. Danger rode the Afro-rock production of organist and guitarist Biddy Wright and was sung in English; Taiwo and Kehinde sang most of Mother Africa in Yoruba and Ibo, and while a few crazy fuzz-tone electric guitar solos remind us that the Lijadus recorded these tracks during a peak of West African interest in psychedelic funk, Wright helped them fashion a more folky and traditional acoustic sound at this session. Themes range from odes to the moon and regrets for disappointing their mother to an implicit retort to the “two-faced people” who criticized Taiwo for dating Ginger Baker. But given the language barrier, the lyrics are less important than they way they are delivered—through the gritty and sweet vocal harmonies and lilting beats that give Mother Africa a timeless appeal. -Derk Richardson

1. Osupa 1 6:20
2. Iya Mi Jowo 6:36
3. Bayi L'ense 6:38
4. Orin Aro 7:18
5. Dibe Nuwa 5:37
6. Osupa 2 5:44

2012 Reissue of album originally released in 1977.


''Deeply entrancing and moving in a way that's hard to put your finger on. The kora and balafon playing is some of the most emotive instrumentation I've ever heard. I have no idea what the lyrical content is about but regardless (and perhaps moreso) this has a profound impact on me and is a real sublime euphoria-inducing album at times. The hope of finding something like this is the reason we spend so much time digging for new music, it's a record with a transcendent beauty and timeless quality that makes it as good a candidate as any for the best record ever.'' -MichaelKeating

Yasimika is the first studio album by Djeli Moussa Diawara (aka Jali Musa Jawara), Guinean Kora player (Korafola), released in 1983.

Djeli Moussa Diawara recorded his first LP, now known as Yasimika, in Abidjan in 1982. He's 20 years old and came to the city following his half-brother Mory Kante. This album is still nowadays considered a great piece of African music, and many music lovers consider it changed their appreciation of traditional music, specifically the second track (Haidara), that would appear on many compilations, like "The Rough Guide To The Music Of Mali & Guinea" released by World Music Network in 2000. During the 80s, Mande pop was starting to lose its folk origins and was becoming a kind of dance music, even topping the European charts. At the same time, a kind of roots revival occurred, led by Djeli Moussa, already an accomplished acoustic singer and Kora player, with the release of this acclaimed album.

Charlie Gillett told the following story in January 2009:

Under the French spelling of his name, the Guinean kora player Djeli Musa Diawara recorded his debut album in 1982 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where he had been playing in restaurants. Released on Tangent, a label run by an American in Paris, the album inspired me to dip my toe into this new music by releasing it in the UK on my Oval label, with Anglicised spelling of his name as suggested by Lucy Duran – Jali Musa Jawara. Billy Bragg’s enthusiasm led to his Go Discs label boss Andy McDonald licensing the album for release under the title Direct from West Africa, while World Circuit’s boss Anne Hunt brought Jali Musa to play on two double bills in London with the Malian guitarist (and Andy Kershaw favourite), Ali Farka Toure. Amusingly (to all except those who had to deal with the problem), neither Jali Musa nor Ali had heard of each other, and each assumed he should be top of the bill. Fortunately, as there were two concerts, the bills could be reversed. Both artists recorded new albums for World Circuit while they were in the UK, but only Ali sold enough records to justify making more albums. Meanwhile the original Jali Musa album was issued yet again, this time on Joe Boyd’s Hannibal label, but that license lapsed long ago, and at the moment the album is scandalously unavailable. "Haidara" was included in Ian Anderson’s excellent compilation for Nascente, Routes: 20 years of Essential Folk, Root and World Music. -Charlie Gillett

1. Foté Mogoban 6:34
2. Haïdara 10:57
3. Yékèlè 7:50
4. Yasimika 8:07

Djeli Moussa Diawara – vocals, Kora
Kissiman – guitar
Lamine Kouyate – guitar
Kouyate Djelimoridjan – Balafon
Djanka Diabate, Fanta Kouyate & Djenin Doumbia – chorus

"Yasimika (Abidjan 1982)" is the restored and remastered version of the first album Djeli Moussa Diawara recorded in Ivory Coast when he was 20 years old.
Released on digital platforms on 10/1/2010, it will be available as CD and LP after 02/25/2011.

''This has gotten so much play since I found it about 15 years ago. It's great to see it back in print, but it takes away some of the feeling that I've got such a rare and hard-to-find gem in my collection. Either way, I'll probably buy both new versions to see how such a masterful recording could possibly be re-mastered.
If you haven't got this, I suggest buying it. I haven't heard any recording of kora music that tops this one.'' -almsaffr


Time for the east coast!

This CD is a compilation of music from four of Tanzania's greatest dance bands: Orchestra Maquis Original, Juwata Jazz Band (aka, OTTU Jazz), International Orchestra Safari Sound, and Mlimani Park Orchestra.

Musiki wa Dansi features four of Tanzania's most famous and best loved groups. The CD is a brilliant cross-section of the great musical tradition emanating from the studios of Radio Tanzania in the ten year period from 1982. No studio gimmickry here. The recordings are live, one-take, mega mixes that truly highlight the excitement of their dance hall performances. Superb East African big band rumba/soukous!

Picture the setting . . . . A steamy tropical night in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's sprawling urban magnet. It's nine or ten in the evening and finally the temperature is getting comfortable. And wafting through Dar's various neighborhoods is the sound of muziki wa dansi (dance music). Among the tall palm trees lining the roads, people are slowly making their way to the social halls and bars to meet friends, take in some refreshment, and dance to the sounds of the big dance groups. They call them "orchestras" or "jazz bands" but these groups sound nothing like an American or European orchestra or jazz group. They are electric guitar bands with a corps of vocalists, full horn/sax sections, and conga rhythms on top of the standard drum kit. The bands are huge--as many as 25 - 30 people, although maybe only 14 or 15 are playing at any one time. The guitars feature that delicate interweave of parts, characteristic of the great East African rumba bands.

Absolutely, this is music for dancing. This second volume of hot floor burners from Tanzania (the first was Mlimani Park's Sikinde) from Africassette is solid, grooving, relentless dance music. The bands here are among the best not only of Dar Es Salaam, but of the eastern African continent. In the wake of the short cut, radio-briefed soukous and juju we have had presented on recent tracks by Sunny Ade and Rochereau, here's some of the stuff that keeps the house rocking until the wee house. The music of Tanzania's pop scene is a hybrid of all that's hot on the continent (especially soukous, rumba, highlife and a bit of the jive and pop sounds from South Africa and Kenya), but it takes interesting twists and turns that are uniquely eastern. Heavy on the horns, these large bands churn out a smoldering sound, romantic and sensual, full of life. Even in their six to eight minute, somewhat shortened state (these were mostly recorded by national radio in their studios in the early eighties), these four bands tear it up on every track. -Cliff Furnald

Popular Music in Tanzania
 "Muziki wa Dansi"

Swahili for "Dance Music,"
The Pop Music of the Nation

by Werner Graebner

Excerpts of the CD Notes for "Muziki wa Dansi."


Open the pages of Dar es Salaam's Swahili language daily Uhuru (called Mzalendo on Sundays) and you'll come across two or more pages of advertisements for live music: About 20 of these list the big names in muziki wa dansi (dance music) like DDC Mlimani Park, International Orchestra Safari Sound, Juwata Jazz, Maquis Original, Super Matimila, Vijana Jazz, etc. Add to these the lesser names and the various performances by groups that combine ngoma, taarab, and theater and you've got a live music scene hardly equaled in any of Africa's cities.

Aside from a few discos and posh hotels like the Kilimanjaro and New Africa that feature dinner-dance music for tourists and local upstarts, central Dar es Salaam is dry as far as music is concerned. Almost all the bars and dance halls that feature live music are located in residential areas like Kinondoni, Magomeni, Manzese, Msasani, Mwenge, Ubungo, Yombo and as far as Kimara about twenty kilometers from town.

Throughout the week the bands rotate through the different parts of town. Transportation is difficult especially at night and this arrangement gives almost everybody a chance to have their favorite band within walking distance once a week, or at least every couple of weeks. On weekends (Saturday night and Sunday afternoon) the bands play their home base. Sometimes home is a bar or dance hall run by the same people or organization owning the instruments. Other times, it might be a place where bands have a special arrangement with the owner – a place where they can rehearse, store their instruments, and maintain an office.

Tanzania's foremost dance band, DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra, was highlighted in the Africassette release titled Sikinde (Africassette 9402). The CD, Muziki wa Dansi, introduces three more bands that, with Mlimani, belong at the top of Tanzania’s dance music hierarchy. With their formation in 1985, International Orchestra Safari Sound set out to become Mlimani's strongest competition on the Dar scene. Their style, especially the singing, is somethimes quite similar to the Mlimani sound. This shouldn’t be any surprise, however, as numberous musicians have moved back and forth between the two groups.

Juwata Jazz is Dar's oldest surviving band. It has served as a breeding ground for many of Tanzania's best musicians, including members of both Mlimani and Safari Sound. Juwata's rough sound and brassy arrangements form a marked contrast to Orchestra Maquis Original. Many of Maquis' leading members hail from eastern Zaire. To the outsider, their style (especially the vocal harmonies) may sometimes sound close to Kinshasa soukous. However, it would be misleading to say that Maquis play in a Zairean style. To the contrary, even their Lingala numbers show Maquis' roots in a specifically East African music culture.


Maquis Original's headquarters are at the Lang'ata Social Hall in Kinondoni, one of Dar es Salaam's more affluent quarters. Ever since they popularized their Kamanyola bila jasho ("dance Kamanyola without sweating") style in the late seventies, Maquis' image has been one of laid-back, easy entertainment, hence, the perception of their dances as ‘civilized’ affairs preferred by a more high-class clientele.

Maquis are not merely a band. They also run a farm and you can buy their produce from Dar es Salaam's main market in Kariakoo. This move to diversification was made, when the Tanzanian government in the late seventies strove to oust 'foreign' bands. To be able to stay, Maquis established themselves as a cooperative society. Chinyama Chianza was its first president, as well as band leader until his death in 1985. (He plays the saxophone here on the title "Mabruki.")

The band was formed in the eastern Zairean town of Lubumbashi in 1970. Its core, including Chianza, had left the Super Teo band, when they could afford to buy their own instruments. In 1972 Maquis was invited to play in Kampala, Uganda. Their journey took them to various towns in Tanzania including Dar es Salaam. It was here that they decided to stay. They never made it to their original destination Kampala.

Other founding members of Maquis include Mbuya Makonga 'Adios', Tshimanga Assosa and Nguza Mbangu 'Viking'. Nguza's hard-driving guitar solos can be heard on "Mpenzi Luta" and 'Mabruki'. He took over from Chianza as president and band leader until 1987, when he left to form his own band Sambulumaa, and later to lead Orchestra Safari Sound. He now leads his own band again, called Achigo. Since Nguza left, Mbuya Makonga, singer and organ player, has been the president of the Maquis organization. Recent band leaders, i.e., those responsible for the music as well as the stage management, have been singer Tshimanga Assosa and bass player Ilunga Mbanza 'Mchafu.'

In the seventies Assosa had left for some time to go to Kinshasa (playing there with such groups as Soki Vangu's Orchestra Bella Bella). Back in Tanzania he joined Orchestra Makassy, and he composed "Mambo Bado" which was the hit of their 1982 European release Agwaya. In 1983 he rejoined Maquis and has since become one of the group’s leading singers and composers. Assosa composed and sang most of their recent favorites, including "Makumbele" and "Ngalula", the latter winning Maquis a first place in the 1989/90 national band contest. The early nineties saw Assosa leading the band Legho Stars, but public demand brought him back to Maquis in the spring of 1992, and he has since established himself as the band leader again.

"Ngalula" and "Makumbele" also feature guitar prodigy Dekula Kahanga 'Vumbi', 'Dust' as he is called, because of his high-pitched guitar licks. He is considered by many as the outstanding discovery on the Tanzanian scene in recent years. At the time of these recordings, in 1988/89 and into 1990, Kahanga's guitar solos were one of the main attractions of Maquis' live performances. The name 'Vumbi', shouted by Assosa throughout his solos, almost supplanted the official mtindo of Maquis Original called Zembwela-Sendema [55 second mp3 clip of Vumbi in action on the song: "Ngalula", 1.26mb]. Kahanga has since 'retired' to Sweden, but he is still a member of Maquis, and plays with them whenever he is in Dar es Salaam.

The mtindo is the musical performance and dance style associated with each band. Most bands stick with their mtindo, but, every so often, Maquis will introduce a new one. This disc showcases several of their mitindo (plural of mtindo) of the last fifteen years: "Mabruki" is still in the Kamanyola style, an incarnation that is called Sanifu. Nineteen eighty-three saw the introduction of Ogelea Piga Mbizi, 'swim and dive' which aptly describes the movements of the accompanying dance. Then in 1984 came the Zembwela style of slow dancing, represented here by "Mpenzi Luta." Maquis' mitindo have so endeared them to the general public that the names of the these styles feature prominently in everyday speech. These days for example kuZembwela is widely used as a synonym for 'dancing' per se.


IOSS was created in a kind of coup in 1985, when the bandowner, businessman Hugo Kisima, disbanded his Orchestra Safari Sound (OSS) led by Ndala Kasheba and hired six leading members of Mlimani Park to form the nucleus of the new IOSS. Singer Muhiddin Maalim Gurumo and lead-guitarist Abel Balthazar were the new bandleaders, Hassani Bitchuka the leading vocalist and composer (featured here on "Chatu Mkali" and "Homa Imenizidia").

Tanzanian bands typically come in rival pairs, each with a large group of loyal followers. This competitive situation may well go back to the older ngoma dance societies, and was also widespread among the dance clubs of the 1930s to the 1950s. While in the early eighties the two most prominent competitors were Ndala Kasheba's OSS and Nguza's Maquis, the new pair became IOSS and Mlimani. Muhiddin Maalim, acknowledged master of mitindo, devised IOSS's new mtindo Ndekule. Originally ndekule is a men's ngoma of the Zaramo people who inhabit the area around Dar es Salaam. It was a warriors dance, performed during celebrations, the men carrying their swords or sticks. Ndekule is also the name of a particular snake and the ndekule ngoma may well have been the dance of a snake-charmers society in earlier times. The contemporary associations become more clear if we look at the song lyrics of "Chatu Mkali," 'beware, a snake is dangerous.' The public read this as referring to the rivalry between Mlimani and its former members leading IOSS. In fact, in IOSS newspaper advertisements of the time, an elephant is seen tugging a motor vessel out of the sea, a snake (i.e., IOSS/Ndekule) waits dangerously at the shore. A ship, 'M.V. Mapenzi' (meaning Motor Vessel Love), featured prominently in one of Mlimani's songs of that period, a song that teased Muhiddin for abandoning his M.V. Mapenzi (M.V. Love, read Mlimani Park) and throwing himself into the sea only to be eaten by the sharks.

For a time IOSS were indeed contenders for Mlimani's position as the number one band. However, in 1987, Hassani Bitchuka rejoined his former band Mlimani with Muhiddin Maalim following in 1989. Since then, both returned to their erstwhile band Juwata/OTTU. Other members left IOSS to join newly established bands made possible by the economic liberalization program which allows importation of musical instruments by private businesses. For example Abel Balthazar and several others including Skassy Kassambula (the featured singer on "Somboko Ama") left to form a new band called the Magereza Jazz Band. IOSS went through several less successful editions before experiencing a short revival at the top in 1991/92 under the leadership of Nguza Viking of Maquis fame. They had a nationwide hit with "Mageuzi" (Changes), a song on the political changes taking place in Tanzania at the time. Despite their resurgence and quite inexplicably, the owner of IOSS disbanded the band a short time later.


Founded in 1964 Juwata is the oldest band currently active in Tanzania today and has been one of the most prominent groups ever since. The band was formed under the wings of the National Workers Union, hence their original name NUTA Jazz Band, and provided the model for many of the bands to come in the seventies and eighties. The music and dance clubs that had dominated the forties and fifties became increasingly obsolete during the sixties. The new model, organizing bands under the wings of government or para-statal organizations, became the dominant form in the seventies, and remains so today: The organization owns the instruments and employs the musicians, who draw salaries like regular workers plus some percentage of the gate collection. Today numerous bands work along this line and include Mlimani Park, Tancut Alimasi, and Vijana Jazz.

The original name Nuta Jazz was changed to Juwata Jazz Band in 1977 to mark a new beginning after a number of prominent band members, Muhiddin Maalim, Abel Balthazar, Hassani Bitchuka among them, left the band to form Dar International and later Mlimani Park Orchestra (Juwata is the Swahili equivalent of Nuta and stands for Jumuiya ya Wafanyakazi Tanzania). Recently the name was changed again to mirror current political changes. Since the mother organization changed its name to Organization of Tanzanian Trade Unions (OTTU), the band has also been renamed and now calls itself OTTU Jazz Band, with the adage baba ya muziki ('father of music') to reflect its standing as the oldest band in the country.

The two mainstays of Juwata are Joseph Lusungu, trumpeter and vocalist, and sax player Mnenge Ramadhani. Both joined Nuta in 1966 and both a different times have been band leaders. The two members still dominate the brassy sound and general character of Juwata's music with their arrangements. The band leader throughout the eighties has been Saidi Mabera who joined in 1973. Mabera is also the band's solo-guitarist and the composer of many of the tunes. The words of two of Juwata's songs on this disc "Tupa Tupa" and "Msafiri Kakiri" are by Moshi William. He is also the singer on these tunes, and occasionally doubles on second-solo or bass guitar. Since their return to Juwata in 1991 Muhiddin Maalim and Hassani Bitchuka have again taken prominent roles in the band with Muhiddin reappointed as band leader. "Usia kwa Watoto" is one of Muhiddin's more recent compositions. The song became a hit for Juwata in 1991. Juwata's mtindo is called Msondo and derives its name from a drum widely used in East Africa. Msondo is also a dance-song genre performed at the initiation celebrations of girls of various ethnic groups in Eastern Tanzania.


Mlimani Park Orchestra was founded in 1978 by some of Tanzania's prominent musicians, among them Muhiddin Maalim, Hassani Bitchuka, Abel Balthazar (all coming over from Juwata at the time), and Michael Enoch, former band leader of the Dar es Salaam Jazz Band. The band established itself soon as Tanzania's leading band, winning a national band contest in 1982. They have soothed Tanzanian audiences ever since with a never ending string of hits. Many of their greatest hits throughout the 1980s may be found on Mlimani Park Orchestra's CD titled Sikinde, (Africassette 9402). The liner notes to Sikinde also contain a detailed history of the band, excerpted on the Mlimani Page. The song included here dates from 1982 and features the voices of Hassani Bitchuka and Hamisi Juma.


For all these bands, it is the collective image they project to their audiences that matters most. This is only natural with bands that have to play for five or six nights a week and up to six hours at a time, a task beyond the capability of a small ensemble. Thus, Tanzanian bands are large, featuring from twenty to thirty musicians. This situation is also bound to introduce problems: There is considerable rivalry within the bands. Many musicians think that they get neither enough room for individual expression nor appropriate financial remuneration. As a result, musicians frequently move from one band to another, always in search of a possibly more advantageous position.

If the system of wage employment for musicians and the lack of a proper recording industry in Tanzania does not favor stardom or easy money (if that is even possible in African music), it also has its advantages: At least it gives the musician a kind of security with regular wages (plus a percentage of the gate collection), housing, health care, etc., which is well above the income of the average Tanzanian. Considering the situation in neighboring countries like Kenya, where musicians barely manage to make a living, the Tanzanian dance band scene is indeed a healthy one.


Tanzania has virtually no recording industry. On the mainland the only recording institution which has operated consistently over the last twenty-five years is Radio Tanzania Dar es Salaam (RTD). Once or twice a year, the bands come to its one-track studio for a session, recording about five songs at a time. Both parties involved depend on each other: The radio gets music for its programs at a negligible sum, the bands in turn get publicity for their live performances. However the relationship is not always smooth. Often RTD recordings are pirated and released in neighboring countries such as Kenya, where Tanzanian music is in high demand. As a matter of fact almost all releases featuring Tanzanian bands in the last ten to fifteen years have used tapes stolen or illegally copied from the library of RTD. No proper payments or contractual arrangements have been made. In contrast, the recordings included in this compilation have been authorized through negotiations with all the various parties concerned with their release.

Finally RTD deserves a special credit for its support of local music. Since the 1960s the radio has consistently sponsored and exclusively featured Tanzanian bands on its Swahili programs, thereby contributing to the development of a specific Tanzanian musical style. Today, the music scene in Dar es Salaam is among the most vivid and creative in the whole of Africa.

© 1994 and 1996 Werner Graebner

1. Orchestra Maquis Original - Ngalula 6:27
2. Juwata Jazz Band - Tupa Tupa 6:05
3. International Orchestra Safari Sound - Chatu Mkali 6:57
4. Orchestra Maquis Original - Mpenzi Luta 5:44
5. International Orchestra Safari Sound - Homa Imenizidia 6:59
6. Orchestra Maquis Original - Mabruki 6:41
7. Juwata Jazz Band - Msafiri Kakiri 6:49
8. Mlimani Park Orchestra - Edita 5:31
9. Orchestra Maquis Original - Makumbele 6:11
10. International Orchestra Safari Sound - Somboko Ama 7:16
11. Juwata Jazz Band - Usia Kwa Watoto 6:30

La Réunion

The great classic Alain Peters, who died too young, in his day an obscure figure with the maloya scene in La Reunion, keeping loyal to a more experimental approach of the local styles. Introvert, intimate, lo-fi and warm.

Highly recommended! An artist that deserves to be more widely known, if you like Francis Bebey, William Onyeabor then you might dig this! 

Alain Peters is one of the best-kept secrets in the music scene of the Indian Ocean and beyond. His music is unique: a blend of Creole blues, maloya and international folk, it discretely takes hold of you and never leaves you. Peters travelled through the 70s and the 80s like a shooting star, alone or with a band, with his Sahelian lute, his reel-to-reel tape recorder, firewater and ill-fated genius. He died in 1995, aged 43. Poet, musician, singer and melody-maker, he left behind a handful of sublime songs which are gathered here for the first time on vinyl. Full of dazzling beauty and sparkling darkness, his songs express the yearning homesickness of the Creoles’ highly sensitive wandering soul, at the crossroads of African, Indian and European cultures. Réunion (literally “the gathering”) is aptly named and over the course of his uncertain career, Peters continuously embodied the soul of this culturally hybrid land with a fusion of African instruments, Indian mysticism and European poetry.

Both discreet and sincere, Caloubadia leaves a lasting impression. Peters and his friend Loy Ehrlich’s ethereal choruses give this ode to euphoria a feeling of weightlessness. It’s a slow incantation, mystical, heady and acoustic. With sparse means and spontaneous poetry, Péters speaks of his daily life and environment, where happiness and sunlight shine on an inner storm of volcanic strength and darkness.

Frail improvised percussion, a four-string lute, two plastic bags rubbed together and other titbits are enough for Peters to compose Creole symphonies of dazzling beauty, full of sun, waves and wind. Mangé pour le cœur is the perfect example of this, if not for its preternatural melody.

Released in 1977, La rosée si feuilles songes was the first song he recorded at Studio Royal in Saint-Joseph. Interpreted by singer Hervé Imare, this unique 7” was released by “Les Caméléons”, for whom Peters played the bass guitar. The band, at the crossroads of jazz-rock, reggae and prog rock, lived in a community in Langevin, in the heights of Saint-Joseph. This is undoubtedly one of the most productive periods for Péters, who wrote with a lot of ease, first in French, then in Creole.

Based on a poem by his friend Jean Albany, La pêche Bernica veers towards free jazz, with its incantatory saxophone, arranged by René Lacaille, Peters’ loyal friend since the “Caméléons”. He sings about a spot of fishing at the time of the Mass, in one of the island’s well-known rivers, near Saint-Paul. As in all of his compositions, Peters builds a little melodic gem from his childhood memories, which the poet and the music transcend. It’s remarkably fluid, as if flowing in an azalea-lined gulley which bounces towards the Ocean.

Plime la misère wards off ill fortune, evading a plaintive tone to become a lively creation. Based on another poem by Jean Albany, the song’s melody is built around the wind, while quoting several places in Réunion, once again placing the island at the heart of Peters’ preoccupations. The toponymy of the island names blends perfectly with the lyrics. Proud of his Creole roots, he grew up attending Claude Vinh-San and Jazz Tropical concerts, a band which had a lasting influence on him. His father Edouard actually played the drums for saxophonist Chane-Kane’s band, one of the island’s most influential bands, before the tidal wave of pop music of the late 60s arrived.

Ti pas ti pas n’arriver is another great moment of poetry from the Indian Ocean. The song is also known as Rame canot. This song demonstrates Euclidean perfection: It works like a parable for the hardship that life inflicted on him at the time.

The more celestial Complainte de Satan (1ère figure) is far less dark than its title might suggest. The lyrics evoke the island spleen and the surrounding vastness. Deceptively fatalistic, Peters leaves it to the elements and to an almost resigned Good Lord, while he delivers the lyrics for his own survival himself. The nocturnal Ti cabart is a light and moving instrumental track, with fragments of a sibylline chorus that tales off into the blue, without ever looking back. It floats high above the island’s peaks, carried by breathtaking choruses, while Wayo manman! weaves a hypnotic canvas, thanks in part to the strings of the ngoni. Péters repeats the chorus like a long looped mantra.

With its universal melody, Rest’ la maloya is probably one of the greatest unknown hits, which should be kept close to the heart. The Fender Rhodes and light percussions weave the perfect canvas for Péters, whose blue-tinted voice travels through the track like a shooting star, touching on a world dream. Full of hope, the track sounds like a sunrise, with nothing but the ocean on the horizon.

Florent Mazzoleni 
(Translated from French by Baron AJS Craker)

1. La Rosée Si Feuilles Songes 4:21
2. Mangé Pou Le Coeur 4:01
3. Panier Su La Tête, Mi Chanté 3:47
4. Romance Pou Un Zézère 2:52
5. Complainte De Satan (1ère Figure) 3:13
6. Mon Pois L'est Au Feu 3:44
7. Ti Pas, Ti Pas N'arriver 4:05
8. Caloubadia (1981) 5:05
9. Complainte De Satan (2ème Figure) 3:54
10. Wayo Manman! 3:38
11. Complainte Pour Mon Défunt Papa 4:16
12. Ti Cabart 2:50
13. Plime La Misère 3:04
14. La Pêche Bernica 3:53
15. Mon Joli, Mon Joli Marmaille 2:14
16. Dan' Vavangues 3:56
17. Rest' Là Maloya 4:47
18. Moin Té Crois Pi 3:04
19. Bébett' Coco 2:37
20. L'Tonton Alfred 2:07
21. Maya 4:11

Vavanguèr contains all tracks from Alain Peters ‎– Rest' La Maloya (2016)
Label: Les Disques Bongo Joe ‎– BJR007, Sofa Records ‎– SR001


A legendary singer from Benin, Pedro made his mark in the sixties and seventies with West African style salsa that has since become very popular. In the 80s he had a disco hit before vanishing into obscurity. In the late nineties he returned in triumph to appear with Africando. These early pieces propel Pedro's lyrical vocals on a tide of hypnotic guitar and Latin percussion, saturated in soulful horn arrangements. Four of the songs have circulated in muddy bootleg copies for over a decade, including the hypnotic "La Musica en verité" (with its Mellotron lead) and "La Combinacion de Gnonnas," a medley of popular Cuban standards. This French reissue cleans up the sound but offers no additional information, save what's encoded in the plastic, luckily this great Afro-Cuban music speaks for itself. -muzikifan

Gnonnas Pedro has been a staple in the music of Benin since the 1960s. He is a jack of all trades blending Cuban music, soukous, highlife, and ballads that appeal to a wide audience. He is one of the renowned African vocalists. His music is steeped in African and Cuban traditions that infiltrated Benin via the Congo. The mambo and cha cha that comprise much of Vol. 1 have a Cuban stamp on them, along with a primordial African coloration. The compositions are rife with percussive underpinnings that keep the energy and drive concentrated on the dancer's feet and hips. Gnonnas Pedro, a master, instinctively knows the path to a dancer's inspiration and makes ample use of it. His compositions do not overpower, but rather subtly instill a rhythmic force that lifts and floats the dancer above the plane of everyday existence. "La Musica en Verite," covered by Africando on Gombo Salsa, tells it all, with organ and percussion that carries one through all barriers to musical bliss. In music there is truth. In this album there is a good amount of that compelling truth packaged in a manner that will appeal to African and Cuban music aficionados alike. Highly recommended. -AllMusic Review by Mark Romano

1. Azo N'kplon Doun Nde 4:54
2. Atimawuin Dagamasi 6:03
3. Cicibilici 7:45
4. Manzanilio 6:28
5. Mid'ho Miton 3:52
6. La Musica En Verite 7:09
7. Maria Elena 7:08
8. La Combinacion De Gnonnas 8:03
9. Kandevie 6:31
10. El Cochechivo 8:37
11. Abigbedoto 4:31


I can't get enough of Mbaraka Mwinshehe. He was known as the "Franco of East Africa" for his presence, his guitar playing and his spellbinding success as a performer. The sound on a few of these tracks is a bit rough, as they were taken from 45s, but it's a marvelous exposition of that rumba sound with snaking guitar lines, punchy horns and a long laid-back groove that stretches to the dusty horizon. This one jumps right in with "Bivelina" and goes into another smoker, "Tambiko ya wahenga." This CD covers the early career of Mbaraka when he was with Morogoro Jazz Band, before he left to form Super Volcano. It only duplicates two of the tracks on MASIMANGO (Dizim Asili Series vol 2): "Tutakuja gombana" and "Matusi ya nini," where they sound heaps better. The latter is an important track because it discusses the rivalry between Morogoro Jazz and Salim's Cuban Marimba Band, another band from the same small town in Eastern Tanzania. It was from them that Mbaraka learned his singing style which is actually Islamic in origin and has a nice descant to it. His partner in the band was Kulwa Salum on chorus and arrangements who also plays the sax that is such a great addition to the vocals and a counterpoint to Mbaraka's dazzling guitar solos. Mbaraka played many instruments and the biggest influence on his guitar playing is the likembe or thumb piano. Apart from wonderfully lyric passages he often creates a percussive style for a rhythmic effect that is quite mesmerizing. Sometimes his guitar even sounds like a marimba (I guess he's hammering on the strings with both hands). On "Vijana wa Afrika" he introduced lap steel guitar and the zoops and whoops are clearly derived from Docteur Nico's African Fiesta rather than country and western or Hawaiian sources. Maybe Werner Graebner, who produced the Dizim release, will get involved and track down the master tapes or find a way to remaster these tracks but, until then, here's your chance to hear some classic Tanzanian music. -muzikifan

A tale of crooner par excellence

Mbaraka Mwaruka Mwinshehe, who was born on June 27, 1944, was the second born in a family of 12 children. His father, Mwinshehe Mwaruka, was a clerk at one of the  big sisal farms in Tanzania.

But the early Tanzanian music scene is greatly associated with another man, Salim Abdullah.

Salim formed a band in 1948 and for about 20 years, he dominated the scene, playing with his Cuban Marimba Band, until his death in a car accident in 1965.

At the time, musicians and other artistes faced a lot of restrictions from the socialist administration of President Julius Nyerere.

So in 1973, just like many other Tanzanian artistes of the time, the gifted Mbaraka switched his base from Tanzania to Kenya, where there were better recording studios as well as a bigger music market.

Then Kenya-based Congolese godfather of rumba Baba Gaston also first moved to Tanzania, but it was not until he came to Kenya that he realised true success. Mbaraka left behind bands such as Western Jazz, who were famous for the song Vigelegele, and Kilwa Jazz, which excelled at using Congolese melodies in their Swahili songs.

This was not be the first time Mbaraka had left in search of something. While he was still in high school in 1965 he dropped out in Form Three to follow his passion. He had developed an interest in music at a very young age and joined Morogoro Jazz, a local band as a tin whistle artiste. 

While still in school, Mbaraka established his reputation as a member of Morogoro Jazz Band, between 1964 and 1973.


His guitar strumming style made him one of the best soloists of his time, exploring several genres such as Suluhu, Likembe, Masika and Zole Zole. He produced hits such as Shida, Pole Dada, Mtaa wa Saba, Bibi ya Watu, and Nisalimie Wana Zaire.

In 1970, his Morogoro Band travelled to Japan for an expo as part of the Tanzanian cultural team. Others were Mzee Morris Nyanyusa, famous for playing 10 drums, Dar es Salaam University Theatre Group, and Mzee Mayagilo with Tanzania Police Brass Band.

Mbaraka was one of the hottest properties in the music industry in East Africa and many believe that he was yet to reach the peak when the died. He was exceptional as he played the solo, wrote songs and sang.

When he arrived in Kenya, he changed the band’s name to Super Volcano Jazz, and signed up with PolyGram Records.

Says a fan, Mr Jerome Ogola: “The late Mbaraka Mwinshehe was an exceptional guitarist. At one point, he would play like Dr Nico and at another point he would play like Franco. He was a hybrid of the two guitar greats from Africa. The technique earned him a huge following.  He sang in Swahili making it easy for the people to follow the narratives. Those were the days when musicians were born, not manufactured.”

He urged Kenya’s new generation of musicians to perfect their song writing skills so that Kenyans and the rest of the world can listen to them for a lifetime. And one of the ways they can do this, he advised, is by listening and emulating musicians such as Kakai Kilonzo and his Kilima Mbogo Brothers Band.

Mbaraka died on January 13, 1979, at 1.55am, when the white Peugeot 404 he was travelling in rammed a stationary lorry near Kigonya Church in Mombasa.

For someone who dropped out of school in Form Three, Mbaraka was able to accumulate immense wealth, becoming a very successful farmer. He also ventured into the transport business, something his family is now very well known for.

1. Bivelina 5:10
2. Tambiko Ya Wahenga 5:00
3. Kulala Na Njaa 5:15
4. Matusi Ya Nini? 4:51
5. Pesa No.1 4:55
6. Yasinta 5:13
7. Afrika Yetu 5:10
8. Tutakuja Gombana 5:31
9. Vijana Wa Afrika 4:27
10. Moro Jazz Mwidaha 5:30


Beautiful guitar-based African pop from Tanzania

This is a great compilation of '80s recordings. A big group and, thanks to the flexibility of cassette (Tanzania has no record industry), it lays out at length in fine style. Expensive, but not to be missed on any account -- a rare-to-unique release with great horns, real-thing strength, and total absence of worldbeat slickness. -AllMusic Review by John Storm Roberts

Gorgeous 1990s guitar pop from Tanzania, with sleek, sensual vocals and funky rhythms that seem to stretch back to the James Brown idolization of the late '60s Afropop scene, but with a softer modern edge. Mostly, it's the super-duper, super-pretty electric guitar work that's the wow-factor here -- really nice stuff that's the perfect update of the best West African pop of the '70s. Beautiful music; this band may not be very well-known outside of their home, but don't let that stop you from picking this record up. You'll be happy you did. A very gentle, alluring album. (DJ Joe Sixpack, Slipcue Guide To World Music)

Mlimani Park and the Dar es Salaam Dance Scene

Dar es Salaam’s more than 20 professional bands play five nights a week in a changing circuit of clubs and dance halls. Mlimani Park’s Saturday night stint is at the Magomeni-Kondoa Social Hall. Usually the open-air place is jammed by more than a thousand people, the biggest audience you will find on a normal weekend in Tanzania’s capital. But on this August night in 1987 something special is in the air: The place is more crowded than ever. Close to midnight the band is in full swing with Cosmas Tobias singing his latest hit Mtoto Akililia Wembe. After one more song Benno Villa, another singer with the band, announces the next tune, and starts a riot: Hassani Bitchuka, Tanzania’s most popular singer/songwriter, is back with Mlimani Park after a two year contract with International Orchestra Safari Sound. Bitchuka immediately mesmerizes the crowd with Hiba, one of his old favorites with the band. While he sings, bank-notes are showered over his head in typical African fashion. This is called tuzo in Swahili. Rivalry between bands in Dar es Salaam is big, and when Bitchuka and Benno Villa share a joke on the dance style of Bitchuka’s former band the place roars with joy.

The contrast in singing style between Bitchuka and Tobias could not be bigger: Tobias is very energetic and emotional, straining his voice to its limits so that his entire body seems to vibrate while he sings. His vocal style and his outstanding talent as a songwriter are well caught here on Neema, Mtoto Akililia Wembe and Usitumie Pesa. Bitchuka’s stage behavior is relaxed, he dances. His beautifully controlled high pitched voice being easily discernible in the complex orchestral arrangements. Bitchuka is the lead singer on Tucheze Sikinde and Fikirini Nisamehe, and his voice can also be heard in the chorus of most other songs. Tanzanian bands are big (Mlimani Park has 26 members at the moment), but still no band seems big enough to accommodate the talents of the two leading singer/songwriters in Tanzania. Both of them acknowledge Mlimani Park as the strongest force in Tanzanian music. Despite this both have left the band - and have come back. Now it is Tobias who has left yet again.

The Band

Mlimani Park was formed in 1978 as the resident band for the Mlimani Club in the Dar es Salaam suburb of Mwenge. Among the founding members were Abel Balthazar, Muhiddin Maalim, Cosmas Tobias, Joseph Mulenga and Michael Enoch. Bitchuka joined shortly afterwards. When the club owners (Tanzania Transport and Taxi Services) went bankrupt in 1983, the band came under the auspices of the Dar es Salaam Development Corporation (DDC). Like many other African countries Tanzania has import restrictions on ‘non-essential items’ - musical instruments among them. Most musicians therefore work as employees of diverse organizations, para-statal or private, which invest in this lucrative business: The sponsors buy instruments and organize practice and performance facilities. The musicians are under contract, draw a regular salary and a percentage of the gate collection.

In Tanzania the first and foremost way of appreciating a song is via the lyrics. Mlimani are famous for the themes and the intricate poetry delivered by their lead-singers. Yet other bands feature well-known lyricists as well, so what makes Mlimani really outstanding are the tight instrumental arrangements: The interplay of the three guitars and especially the horn section. Composing and arranging are usually a group process, i.e. someone brings in the lyrics for a new song which is then worked out collectively at the rehearsals. The final authority here is Michael Enoch whose knowledge and experience is the force behind the development of the distinct Mlimani sound. Michael Enoch has been a legend since he joined the Dar es Salaam Jazz Band in 1960 as a solo guitarist. He soon became the bandleader and developed into one of the leading solo players and composers in Tanzanian music. A multi- instrumentalist, who has taught many Tanzanian musicians, it is only with Mlimani Park that he picked up the saxophone full-time. Michael Enoch plays the alto solos on Tucheze Sikinde and Nalala Kwa Taabu and heats up the faster ‘dance section’ of Usitumie Pesa on the sax mouthpiece.

The Music and the Songs

The musical and performance style of each band as well as the dancing style associated with it is called mtindo. In fact, it acts as a kind of second name for band, fans use it to express their affection for the music of their favored band. Often it acts as a synonym for ‘dancing’ per se. Most mitindo refer to the musical traditions of Tanzania. Mlimani Park’s mtindo, called Sikinde, derives its name and inspiration from a ngoma (i.e. the performance of music-song-dance) of the Zaramo people who inhabit the Dar es Salaam area. The catch-phrase ngoma ya ukae, as featured in the band’s emblem, means ‘the ngoma (dance-musical-style) from home’. Tucheze Sikinde is something like a theme song, advertising the mtindo and naming the band members.

In Tangazia Mataifa Yote Mlimani incorporate elements of another musical tradition: The song follows the rhythm and melody of a dance song of the Gogo, one of Tanzania’s many ethnic groups. In the second part of the song the guitar sound and the interplay of the guitars resemble the Gogo chirimba (an instrument of the sanza or mbira family). The song, which praises the beauties of Tanzania, was especially composed for a nation-wide band contest organized by the National Music Council and the Ministry of Culture in 1982. Mlimani Park won this contest.

Contemporary Tanzanian songs mostly deal with social relationships and urban life in general. A love theme, or the relationship of the sexes, may be at the outset of a song, yet they seldom follow the line of fulfilled or unrequited love so common in Western popular musics. Instead, they tend to reflect on the wider social sphere which these relationships are a part of and talk about the changes brought about by the material conditions of urban life:

Usitumie Pesa Kama Fimbo (Don’t use money like a weapon): "If you love a girl, tell her slowly until she agrees. There is no need to talk bad about someone else, only because he has no money. In love there should be no question of money. Even a dove has a companion in its nest and a dove knows neither bank-notes nor coins."

The title of Mtoto Akililia Wembe is a proverb: "If a child cries for the razor-blade, give it to him", which means, a child has to make it’s own experiences, but don’t forget to educate it on the dangers or the truth of a matter. "Our sister, you were already married. Because of your greediness you have fooled around with your marriage and left your children. You said you wanted a man who could be useful in your life, to get you a car and a house. We have warned you before, this man is a cheat. He has had other women, we see them in the streets everyday. They go on public buses, have neither a car nor a simple hut. Don’t cry now, it was you who said you wanted a husband who would be useful in your life."

Nalala kwa Taabu (I sleep in distress) deals with the problems of poverty and feeding one’s family. In Ubaya (Bad character) the singer reproaches the behavior of his brother who boasts about his meanness and wants to quarrel with him. Muhiddin Maalim Gurumo, the lead singer on both songs, lives up to his name - gurumo means ‘a roaring voice, like a lion’s or thunder’ - with his singing style. But, he says, this is not only a matter of natural voice, the way of giving almost each note or syllable a melody of its own derives from his studies of the singing style of older Zaramo musicians.

At first sight Mnanionyesha Njia ya Kwetu (You show me the way home) looks like a simple case of family quarrel over an inheritance. The wife of the deceased reproaches her husband’s relatives over their greed and tells them that her children are the rightful heirs. Behind this, a conflict between two value systems emerges. According to customary law, which is based on local traditions, the children belong to the husband’s family. The widow, however, bases her appeal on the new formal law of the country and also a general change in values which pay more respect to the ties between a mother and her children. "If it is a custom let us forget about it, it brings so much harm. You called me wife, others aunt, or sister-in-law. Now you have forgotten all of this. Because my husband died, everything is yours . . ."

Among the songs on this record only Fikirini Nisamehe (Consider Forgiving Me) and Neema (My comforter) deal with love in the narrower sense of the word: In Neema a problem between the lovers arises when the former husband and father of her children returns into the woman’s life. The singer is trying to understand the problematic situation, but he cannot give her up. The poetic language and the outstanding arrangement made Neema one of Mlimani’s greatest successes. Two years in a row, in 1985 and 1986, the listeners of Radio Tanzania voted it song of the year.

Sikinde: Details about the Recording

The musicians featured on Sikinde are:

Hassani Bitchuka, Muhiddin Maalim Gurumo, Cosmas Tobias Chidumule, Hamisi Juma, Benno Villa, Francis Lubua, Max Bushoke vocals; Joseph Mulenga, Abel Balthazar, Henry Mkanyia, Michael Bilali solo guitar; Abdallah Gama, Muharami Saidi, Mohamed Iddi, Huruka Uvuruge 2nd solo and rhythm guitars;

Suleiman Mwanyiro, Julius Mzeru bass guitar; Habibu Abbas, Chipembere Saidi drums; Ally Omari, Mashaka Shaban tumba; George Kessy Omojo organ; Boniface Kachale, Ibrahim Mwinchande, Machaku Salum, Hamisi Mirambo, Ally Yahya trumpets; "King" Michael Enoch, Juma Hassan, Joseph Bernard, Shaban Lendi saxophones;

All songs were recorded at Radio Tanzania, Dar es Salaam (RTD) and engineered by James Mhilu.

This collection was compiled by Werner Graebner and licensed by D.B. Paterson from DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra. It was released in cooperation with Dar es Salaam Development Corporation (DDC), Radio Tanzania Dar es Salaam (RTD), the National Arts Council (BASATA), and Chama cha Muziki wa Dansi (CHAMUDATA)

Dedicated to the memories of Muharami Saidi, Joseph Mulenga, and Hezron Mwampulo

These excerpts, Copyright © 1994 and 1996 by Werner Graebner.

1. Neema [My Comforter] 6:53
2. Mnanionyesha Nija Ya Kwetu [You Show Me the Way Home] 6:17
3. Tucheze Sikinde [Let's Dance Sikinde] 7:02
4. Ubaya [Bad Character] 6:11
5. Mtoto Akililia Wembe [If a Child Cries for the Razorblade] 6:53
6. Tangazia Mataifa Yote [Let Everybody Know About Our Nation] 4:41
7. Fikirini Nisamehe [Consider Forgiving Me] 5:46
8. Nalala Kwa Taabu [I Sleep in Distress] 7:46
9. Usitumie Pesa Kama Fimbo [Don't Use Money as a Weapon] 7:17