Kenyan singer Sal Davis has had a fascinating career and is still musically active; his ‘Makini’, released in Belgium in 1969, is a sought-after funky mod classic that was reissued on a collectors label in UK in 2008. He also recorded ‘Back in Dubai’ in 1984 which became a classic to the expat community there in the 1980s, participated in the UK Eurovision song festival in 1979, and further back he recorded a tribute to Qaboos, the Sultan of Oman who is said to have turned his country from a poor, rural society to an oil producing wealthy state in the 1970s (and he’s still in power today, ever since 1970). This ode to the sultan was released on Sal’s own label, the b-side is a lounge love song with funky drums but the a-side is what it’s all about. (Editors note; check out the interview with Thomas Gesthuizen aka Jumanne of africanhiphop.com with a brand new killer afro-disco mix to boot!
|Sal Davis ‘Sultan Qaboos Song’|
About time we brought out another Taarab single, it’s taken a while as they are bloody hard to come by. Some of the bigger Kenyan Taarab labels like Pwani, Mzuri seem to be hard trace even in sales and auction lists. Taaarab is coastal music, Arabic fused rhythms of the Swahili coast, expanding from the south shores of Tanzania, Zanzibar and to the north shores of Lamu in Kenya. Often in small settings with Harmonium, wooden flutes and indian percussion. Omari is praying for his dead parents and he see them in his dreams. “Samahani” is a song about forgiveness.
Omari Commander & his Group ‘Omari Baba Mzazi’
Omari Commander & his Group ‘Samahani’
AbaGusii or more common Kisii people are a tribe located on the western parts of Kenya near Lake Victoria. This single showcases straight from the roots benga in luo tradition, bouncy tempo with drive and the guitarist shifting dynamics gives the track a certain cosmic appeal. The release also goes into A. P Chandaranas treasure trove of Kenyan and Tanzanian released music. The label was distributed from the small town of Kericho. If anyone can enlighten us with identification of the platter object shown on the label we’d be delighted.
|Shem Onderi & Nyamwari Band ‘Robert Nyamgwono’Shem Onderi & Nyamwari Band ‘Ebisio Bia Byasae’|
First feature of 2014 is a doublesided Kikuyu Disco burner. Private production by Jimmy Wa Eunice distributed by Centre Music store Nairobi. Steady beat with little variation, it’s the stone hard groove and the basic but very infectious melody line that sets the mark. Guitarist steps it up a notch and starts his improvisation in the last part. Turn the single around and you have another track that is just as good as the first one. If anyone have any information about the producer or the band, or the record store for that matter please leave a comment.
Kahurika Brothers ‘Muka Wa Mikora’
Kahurika Brothers Kairitu Roiko’
With a good dose of Reggae and Eddy Grant’s magic touch, Nigerian born Sonny Okusun had a big international hit in 79 with the political fueled ‘Fire in the Soweto’. 2 years earlier he had released ‘Papas land’ a key Africa record that had impact spanning from west to east. Kenyans own pop star Slim Ali’s version features great horns, wah-wah, moog, and sassy vocals .. this is the version I personally come back to. Released on the mystical World Records label, responsible for catering the Kenyan music market with domestic artists but also acts ranging from pre-War Señor Soul to Kylie Minogue.
|Slim Ali ‘Papa’s Land’|
Famous band from Tanzania, this release was before they changed their name to DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra after a sponsor deal. Notice the name typo done by the Kenyan label press. Read Werner Graebner excellent notes on the band over at East African Music.com This number translated to “Gossip among people” is a great showcase number; fluid rumbling backbone, fierce guitar interplay and fantastic horns. We’ve glued both parts together so you can hear the song in it’s entirely .. even put in the drop noise of the needle in the start. If you are curious about other releases on the label follow the label logo graphics on bottom right.
|Orchestre Milimani Park ‘Fitina Za Watu’|