This classic recording has a beautiful balance of African aesthetics meet American soul, jazz, funk, rock and pop. The songs have a vintage sound that could only have been made by a South African playing American music in 1971. Along these lines, the album cover is the perfect visual representation of the music. While having a 1970's sound, "Hugh Masekela & the Union of South Africa" is by no means outdated, nor will it ever. The disc has an enjoyable mix of slow ballads, township infused instrumentals and fast funk. The song writing is superb, the musical improvisation is good and the voices soar.
Over the decades, many musicians from the African-American ethnic group have turned to Africa for musical inspiration. For some, it was to prove only a partial or brief flirtation, while others embraced the tonal and rhythmic elements the continent’s music had to offer on a more serious basis. We have collected the best of the latter here. The American musicians assembled on this compilation were certainly not the only ones to mine the inspirational qualities of African music in the Fifties and Sixties but these were the principal players who chose to add a little colour and ethnicity to their repertoire.
The essence of Camille Saint-Saëns' music comes through perhaps most clearly in his music for solo instrument and orchestra, which exemplifies his elegant combination of melody and conservatory-generated virtuosity. The two cello concertos are here, plus a pair of crowd-pleasing short works for piano and orchestra, and the evergreen Carnival of the Animals, with pianists Louis Lortie and Hélène Mercier joining forces along with a collection of instruments that includes the often-omitted glass harmonica. There are all kinds of attractions here: the gently humorous and not over-broad Carnival, the songful cello playing of Truls Mørk, and the little-known piano-and-orchestra scene Africa, Op. 89, with its lightly Tunisian flavor (sample this final track). But really, the central thread connecting them all is the conducting of Neeme Järvi and the light, graceful work of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra; French music is the nearly 80-year-old Järvi's most congenial environment, and in this recording, perhaps his last devoted to Saint-Saëns, he has never been better.
Though labeled as a Cannonball Adderley Quintet session, this is actually a workout with a percussion section loaded with African drums, a big band, and in spots, voices – all unidentified. Nevertheless, this is one of the best and most overlooked of the Cannonball Adderley Capitols, a rumbling session that bursts with the joy of working in an unfamiliar yet vital rhythmic context. Cannonball turns in one of his swinging-est solos through a Varitone electronic attachment on Caiphus Semenya's "Gumba Gumba" and "Marabi" is a real hip-jiggler; you can't sit still through it. Other highlights include Cannon preaching blue smoke in his own Afro-Cuban-blues-flavored "Hamba Nami," a dignified trip through Wes Montgomery's "Up and At It," and Nat Adderley's commanding work on cornet at all times.
This edition presents, for the first time ever on CD, the complete long unavailable 1976 Villalago performance by the Sam Rivers Trio, featuring Don Pullen as a guest soloist. One of the best exponents of free jazz, this set features Rivers playing tenor and soprano saxophones, flute and piano on an extended exploration of his "Black Africa".
When one evaluates Paul Horn's career, it is as if he were two people, pre- and post-1967. In his early days, Horn was an excellent cool-toned altoist and flutist, while later he became a new age flutist whose music is often best used as background music for meditation…
It's hard to go wrong with Fela Kuti's work from the 1970s, and LIVE!, which features the Afrobeat innovator backed by his powerhouse band Africa '70 and ex-Cream drummer Ginger Baker, is no exception. Like all of Fela's recordings from the era, LIVE! consists of just a few tracks, each of which approximates or exceeds the ten minute mark. Yet the arrangements are so dynamic on these tracks, the criss-crossing polyrhythms so absorbing, and Fela's incantatory vocals so entrancing that the long running times never seem a factor. Every cut crackles from beginning to end with its mixture of funk, jazz, and traditional Nigerian music, underscoring once again Fela's revolutionary, indelible contribution to world music.