Koffi Olomide, the veteran Zairean crooner and tenor Papa Wemba are waking up the neighbourhood with the collaborative album Wake-Up (Sonodisc). The duo who worked on other projects before, turn up the heat on this album. Wemba's taut bird-on-a-wire voice is countered by Olomide's deep reassuring baritone. The album avoids the pitfalls of the galloping high-strunged soukous guitar that led to generic Zairean tunes in the 80s and 90s. There is instead understated elegance, a quiet artistic professionalism that oozes on the tracks "Wake-up", "Dodo", "Naomie" and "Mi Amor". The guitars and drums weave magic on all the numbers, each carefully resisting the temptation to show-off. The result is a sweet piece of Zairean music that will go a long way on the dance floor without forgetting those who just love to sit around to listen to great tunes.

The Soul of Cape Verde (Tinder Records) is a 19-track compilation featuring some of the best artists from the tiny islands of Cape Verde. From the opening track with legendary Cesaria Evora to the closing tune with Celina Pereira & Paulino Vieira, this album serves more than just a slice of spice from the sunny islands. This is culture in a capsule, music that speaks directly to the joy, struggle and hope of Cape Verdeans. In Creole or Portuguese, the music enchants and beckons one to explore the mysteries of the land. Check out the tracks " Otilia" by Tito Paris and "Dia c'tchuva bem" by Simentera and you will want more.

Virginia Mukwesha, Zimbabwe's accomplished mbira player and vocalist has come out with an hour-long non-stop mbira album titled Matare (Shava Records). The mbira, long used as an instrument to bridge the worlds of the spirit and the living, is difficult enough to play, but in Matare, it looks so simple like ripples on a clear calm lake. Accompanied by some of the best mbira players in Zimbabwe, Mukwesha, carefully paints layers after layers of delicious sound until, toward the end, the entire body is shaking with eloquent vibration. In Zimbabwe, this is when listeners experience a close kinship with the spirit world. In this case, the listener feels a bigger, larger and beautiful buzz that leaves a warm glow. No kidding. (for more info: Shava Europe - Fax (00 49) 30-8 34 58 41 (Germany)

Cheb Hasni, Algerian budding rai artist was gunned down in the streets of Oran on September 29 1994. But his short legacy as a soulful singer with passionately appealing voice lives on in Lover's Rai (Rounder). Unlike the more famous singer Cheb Khaled, Hasni specialised in slow rumba rai, allowing the momentum to build slowly until the climax. His powerful voice brings to live an Islamic landscape complete with resounding lyres, tall minarets and the ambience of the busy marketplace. Through these myriad of sound, Hasni voice peeks and peaks, speaking directly to the heart.

And finally, fans of Senegalese pop-star Youssou N'Dour, will find Lay Suma Lay (Stern's / www.sternsmusic.com) a good catch for their collection. This is a classic offering the sound of a very young, very raw Youssou N'Dour as he cut his teeth in the smoky clubs of Dakar. Here, the irrepressible teenager N'Dour sings in Wolof even as the music reflects some Cuban influence. His voice is confident, urgent and rich. The mbalax drums pepper the background with complex rhythms and propel the music toward a climax. Even though N'Dour was still light years away from claiming his international crown as the mbalax king, there was enough talent in him to make him very popular in the streets of Dakar. Of course, now we all know...

The previous edition of Afrodisc is available

Opiyo Oloya is the host of the radio program Karibuni on CIUT 89.5 FM Radio, Toronto. The show airs on Saturday 4:00 PM- 5:00 PM.
E-Mail: Stvincen@inforamp.net

return to rootsworld