Monday, March 3, 2008
Afro Funk & Bongo Groove
In case you hadn't noticed yet, the 70s are my favorite years musically. At that time, North American Funk bands were ubiquitous, and the sound made by the likes of James Brown, Sly & the Family Stone, and George Clinton's Parliament & Funkadelic was widely available, all over the world. Funk was created by Jazz musicians eager to explore new dimensions in music, who decided that rhythm had to be put forward in order to drive the music; but the rhythm itself had come a long way. The soulful groove found in all jazz, blues, gospel from which the Funk originated comes from the heart of Africa, and from its traditional percussions & ancient rhythms.
When North-American musicians of African descent started looking into contemporary African music in the late sixties and early seventies - they discovered that the legacy had gone a full circle, with African musicians being directly inspired by the music they were making at the time. Hugh Masekela, Manu Dibango and of course Fela Kuti are good examples of musicians from who first started to embrace the rhythmic structures of jazz and Funk, blending them with the traditional rhythms of African culture. In 1972, when North America discovered Manu Dibango's album "Soul Makossa", the term "world music" was born, and Afro Funk was at its best.
The following selection of music gathers artists from several continents, all connected together through their African roots and their use of the traditional rhythms. Many of these bands were not based in Africa, but in Europe, North and South America, and many of them, composed by immigrants, who would join forces to play funk music, so popular at the time.
Cymande and Demon Fuzz, both signed in the early 70's on the Janus Label, which were seminal bands in the Afro-psychedelic scene, were both based in London, and regrouped musicians from African, Caribbean and European descent. More than just funk, these bands blended psychedelic soul, heavy-dub, progressive rock, Afro-jazz and black acid rock in a way no other band ever achieved. They met quite modest success in their day, but have now become staples of the genre and highly influent on today's music.
Ben & the Platano Group was a legendary funk ensemble based in Paris, who used to be the orchestra for the famous Cabaret called "Le Lido". They recorded one single album in 1970 before the band leader was interned in a psychiatric hospital. Their afro-cuban percussion driven album "Paris Soul" became legendary, and if you're lucky enough to own one of the 300 original copies that came out on the Barclay label, and would accept to send it to me... I would be for ever thankful :)
Lafayette Afro Rock Band, who later changed their name to Ice, were an American funk band from Long Island who re-located to Paris, France; where they recorded some legendary Afro-Funk albums. At one time, they even were the backing band for French popstar Nino Ferrer.
Oneness of Juju who are still active today, were formed in the culturally and spiritually aware African-American community of Washington DC. The two songs in this compilation come from their first album "African Rhythms", a mix of percussion, vocal jazz and Afro Funk, lead by the Sax-player Plunky Nakabinde.
Hot stuff Band is a Brazilian super-band, made up of Azimuth augmented by drummer Wilson das Neves. Others in this selection include Dutch musician Tony Sherman, who's parents immigrated to Europe from the West Indies; Afro-latin funk percussionist Candido, "The man with a thousand fingers" (in the picture above); Marius Cultier from the French West Indies, and others you will just have to discover for yourself...
01. Manu Dibango - Aphrodite Shake, 1972
02. Macumba - Sultana, 1971
03. Cymande - The Message, 1973
04. Tony Sherman - The Swinger, 1974
05. Hugh Masekela The Boy's Doin' It, 1975
06. Dick Khoza - African Jive, 1976
07. Marius Cultier - Ouelele, 1975
08. Ice - Racubah, 1978
09. Matata - Wanna Do My Thing, 1972
10. Oneness of Juju - African Rhythms [45 version], 1975
11. Manu Dibango - African Battle, 1972
12. The Beginning of the End - Funky Nassau (Part II), 1971
13. Ben & the Platano Group - Platano Split, 1970
14. Demon Fuzz - Mercy (variation N.1), 1972
15. Candido - I Shouldn't Believe, 1970
16. Oneness of Juju - Poo Too, 1975
17. Hot Stuff Band - Juju Man, 1976
18. Ashantis - Safari, 1977
19. Mombasa - African Hustle, 1976
20. Lafayette Afro Rock Band - Hihache, 1974
This is not just funk, it's not afro-beat, it's Afro Funk baby.