And also from this stable comes the Cape Town group Amampondo whose
innovative album Drums for Tomorrow (M.E.L.T2000) is grounded in
traditional music-making. The group's minimalist approach demands vocal
harmony, pared down drums and percussive instruments. Anything else is
extra as the group stomps its way on the opening track "Gumboot dance".
Check out the sheer vocal gymnastics in the solo tune "Vukani" and the
acapella "Nobabheha" .
But the feast of the album comes from the kaleidoscopic marimba (xylophone)
treats on the tracks "Cumbelele", "Ingxoxo, "Tchokola" and
(For further information on other great releases on the MELT2000 label,
check out http://www.MELT2000.COM or e-mail Robert Trunz at this address:
From the other end of Africa, comes Morikeba Kouyate, a jali (storyteller)
from one of the most distinguished griot families in Senegal. His
international debut album "Music of Senegal" (Traditional Crossroads, email@example.com)
combines the nimble sound of the 21-stringed kora, the embellishment of the
balafon (xylophone) and a leathery journeyman's voice.
Kouyate is a skilful master whose absolute mastery of the kora is evident
in the colourful opening of each tune with a classical manoeuvre, followed
by a rolling momentum as he weaves fantastic melody on the ancient
instrument. You get a sense of a group of travellers walking along a dusty
road, instruments in hand as they praise past ancestors and hail all good
spirits still to come.
The music maybe ancient, but Kouyate plays with truly modern breezy
chutzpah as on the tracks "Jimbasengo", "Landing majang" and "Lambamba".
The only regret here is that the master is so good he out paces the
accompaniments on the percussive instruments as they try ( to little avail)
to catch up. But that's the beauty of creative music, isn't it?
And while still on the subject of creativity, the Somali group Waaberi has
debut with a self-titled album Waaberi (Real World). Led by star singer
Maryam Mursal, Waaberi is joined by Egyptian master percussionist Hossam
Ramzy whose skilful handiwork on the tabla provides the driving rhythm to
the soulful traditional repertoires. This is skin-tight music, where nary
a sound is wasted, everything is dressed down to the bare essential.
Meanwhile, the warm evocative voice of the lead singer is allowed to float
freely, trailing behind numerous choral voices. In the end, regardless of
whether you speak Somali, Waaberi enchants as well as provokes
Finally, you have another chance to catch Angola's most famous star, Bonga
Angola in a new reissue titled Angola 72 (Tinder Records - firstname.lastname@example.org). The remarkable
thing about Angola's ( the man, that is) music is that it is timeless.
Listen to the remastered tracks and you could never tell that they come
from the early 70s. The rough gravelly voice is still rough, still full of
love, anger, fire and revolution.
Whether singing traditional pieces as on the tracks "Paxi Ni Ngongo" and
"Mu Nhango" or shooting the rumba as he does on the tracks "Barcelo De
Carvalho" and "Mona Ki Ngi Xica", Angola passionate pleas resonate with
life and optimism. No wonder the man weathered the tough years of war of
independence. This is a classic worth collecting.