Sunday, March 29, 2009

Africa and The Blues

"In 1969 Gerhard Kubik chanced to encounter a Mozambican labor migrant, a miner in Transvaal, South Africa, tapping a cipendani, a mouth-resonated musical bow. A comparable instrument was seen in the hands of a white Appalachian musician who claimed it as part of his own cultural heritage. Through connections like these Kubik realized that the link between these two far-flung musicians is African-American music, the sound that became the blues.

Such discoveries reveal a narrative of music evolution for Kubik, a cultural anthropologist and ethnomusicologist. Traveling in Africa, Brazil, Venezuela, and the United States, he spent forty years in the field gathering the material for Africa and the Blues. In this book, Kubik relentlessly traces the remote genealogies of African cultural music through eighteen African nations, especially in the Western and Central Sudanic Belt.

Included is a comprehensive map of this cradle of the blues, along with 31 photographs gathered in his fieldwork. The author also adds clear musical notations and descriptions of both African and African American traditions and practices and calls into question the many assumptions about which elements of the blues were "European" in origin and about which came from Africa. Unique to this book is Kubik's insight into the ways present-day African musicians have adopted and enlivened the blues with their own traditions.

With scholarly care but with an ease for the general reader, Kubik proposes an entirely new theory on blue notes and their origins. Tracing what musical traits came from Africa and what mutations and mergers occurred in the Americas, he shows that the African American tradition we call the blues is truly a musical phenomenon belonging to the African cultural world.

Gerhard Kubik is a professor in the department of ethnology and African studies at the University of Mainz, Germany. Since 1983 he has been affiliated with the Center for Social Research of Malawi, Zomba. He is a permanent member of the Center for Black Music Research in Chicago and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, London."

This week, my post is the companion cd of the book descibed above, 36 tracks of excerpts from both afro-american Blues and african music that illustrates the theories of Gerhard Kubik regarding the vocal and instrumental patterns that occurs in the two musical styles. A fascinating listening experience...

I included photos of the liner notes inside the zip file but to really appreciate this disc, you'll have to read the book...


To Nicolas, of "River's Invitation"

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Paul Anastasio, Joe Holley and Frank Hicks-We Ain't Misbehavin'

Here's a superb album of fiddle swing jazz by two masters of two genrations: Paul Anastasio, the younger one, have been playing fiddle since he was 9 years old, classicaly trained first, he turned afterwards towards the world of jazz and country music, assimilating a lot of different styles, from western swing to old-time, and studied with the great Joe Venuti. The older fiddler here is Joe Holley, who was a member of Bob Wills's Texas Playboys, one of the finest western swing band ever. The guitarist who accompanies them, Frank Hicks, played with various western swing and jazz bands but also with Any Old Time String Band and Jean Ritchie. (For further informations on the musicians, you'll have to read the liner notes above).
The playing here is hot and tasteful and the dialogue between the two fiddlers is marvelous.If you like the music of Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang or Django Reihnardt and Stefane Grappelli, you'll love this record.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Jody Stecher & Friends-Snake Baked a Hoecake

"Snake baked a hoecake" is Jody Stecher's first lp, issued by Bay Records in 1974. In my previous Jody Stecher's post ("Rasa" with sitarist Krisna Bhatt") i already told how great musician he is and how he manages to pick up the best from every musical traditions he goes into. On this album, there's a mix of american and irish/celtic tunes and a awesome song with a indian flavor (Leela,leela...every time i listen to it, it makes me want to sing and dance and go live in an ashram). Jody is playing with a bunch of friends and the whole atmosphere of the lp reflects the good time they have playing together. On his next album, "Going up on the mountain" (one of my favorite lp of all time), he would continue in a more bluegrass vein, with more singing than on this one. There would be also the first duets with Kate Brislin, her wife and musical partner with whom he made some superb records ever since.
Acoustic disc, the record company run by David Grisman have reedited in cd "Going up on the mountain" a few years ago and half of the tracks of "Snake Baked a Hoecake" were on it...
Now you can listen to the whole record, enjoy!
Download here (zip file of vinyl rip cut in mp3 tracks+photos of the liner notes and covers)