Akli D – Tche’ Teche’Nia

Various Artists - African Soul Rebels

Various Artists – African Soul Rebels

Another freebie this week. This time an album released to promote the African Soul Rebels tour in 2007. These tours served to promote African music in general and showcase certain African bands / artists. In 2007 to tour featured Femi Kuti, Ba Cissoko and Akli D. The tour encompassed 12 venues around the country and stopped off at Northampton so I went along. I have memories of it not being the best gig ever; despite there being three quite distinct artists the sound managed to make them very samey. That is my recollection at least.

The track I’ve selected from the promo CD is Akli D singing Tche’ Teche’Nia (which may mean Good Morning or may mean Good Working – the CD offers two translations!). Akli D is an Algerian singer-songwriter, a Berber ethnic group native from Kabylie in the north of Algeria, one hundred miles east of Algiers. Around the time this CD was released he was popular on the world music scene but seems to have disappeared since then.

Akli D – Tche’ Teche’Nia

Dianne Reeves – Afro Blue

Various Artists - Blue Note: 60 Years of Cool

Various Artists – Blue Note: 60 Years of Cool

Welcome, belatedly to 2013. My one fan and my one daughter (they may be one and the same person!) has been complaining about the lack of posts. So, I’m back with a new post and a new site design. I haven’t given the site a full once over to see if I have broken anything, but on first view it seems all okay. If anything is broken, I will endeavour to fix it. I will also, in due course, probably tweak the theme a little to inject some more colour. Other than that I’ll leave well alone. I like to more open appearance of this new theme – I hop you do too.

So, for my first post of 2013, I have Dianne Reeves singing Afro Blue. This comes from a free with the Observer in 1999 CD Blue Note: 60 Years of Cool. The CD is a short but excellent introduction to the Blue Note label featuring, as well as Dianne Reeves, Herbie Hancock, Art Blakey, Horace Parlan, Donald Byrd & Cassandra Wilson. Not bad, eh?

Dunque, on with the music:
Dianne Reeves – Afro Blue

Joe Harriott – John Mayer Double Quintet – Multani

Joe Harriott – John Mayer Double Quintet – Indo-Jazz Fusions

It has not been a good week. First we lose two musical greats, Dave Brubeck & Ravi Shankar. And then we have the killings at Newtown, Connecticut

The world is less of a place today for having lost two “greats” who fulfilled their potentials in long, ground-breaking careers. And it is also less of a place for the loss of twenty six innocents in Newtown, many of them just starting on life’s journey.

I don’t have any Brubeck or Shankar in my collection but the Joe Harriott – John Mayer Double Quintet, Indo-Jazz Fusions will serve as a more than adequate tribute.

Joe Harriott – John Mayer Double Quintet – Multani

Heather Heywood – The Wife of Usher’s Well

Heather Heywood - The Wife of Ushers Well

Heather Heywood – The Wife of Ushers Well

Would you believe it? Thirteen short steps from Senegal takes you to Scotland! This week we’ve got the Scottish border ballad, The Wife of Usher’s Well. The story tells of the return of the ghosts of three sons to their mother at Martinmas. (The feast of St. Martin was held on November the eleventh, one of the Scottish quarter days. It is usually referred to as Martinmas but pronounced Martimas. It was the same day as Hallowe’en in the old calendar.)

The song has been been recorded by many artists over the years: Steeleye Span, Martin Carthy, Karine Polwart and Bellowhead to name just a few. This unaccompanied version is by Scots singer Heather Heywood from her Greentrax album By Yon Castle Wa’. It is widely available and if you enjoy your ballads sung without over the top arrangements / production, the album is well worth investigating. But don’t just take my word for it; Bob Walton, reviewing the album for FRoots magazine, said Heather Heywood has one of those glorious voices that demand your attention and is considered by many as one of the finest of today’s Scottish singers, especially when it comes to singing the big traditional ballads.

Heather Heywood – The Wife of Usher’s Well

Etoile de Dakar – Absa Gueye

Etoile De Dakar - Volume 1 - Absa Gueye

Etoile De Dakar – Volume 1 – Absa Gueye

I started to write this post last week but got distracted by events – though not world shattering events as I can’t remember what they were just a week later. However, in the interim, I listened to the latest Froots Radio Podcast and, by coincidence, Ian Anderson played an Etoile de Dakar track from a recently released Youssou N’Dour retrospective.

If you like the track I am posting today, I’m certain you’ll enjoy the Froots Radio podcasts. And, for my money, December’s podcast is one of the most enjoyable I’ve listened to. This month there is a lot of cracking African music and some brilliant Greek Rembetiko.

On to my track – Etoile de Dakar’s Absa Gueye. This is the title track from the first of a series of Etoile de Dakar re-issues put out by Sterns. The album is a great place to hear mbalax; Senegalese music that fuses Cuban music with traditional Senegalese drum patterns.

Etoile de Dakar – Absa Gueye

D’Gary – Raininy

D'Gary – Malagasy Guitar

D’Gary – Malagasy Guitar

From Colorblind James to D’Gary, from New York State to Madagascar – all in thirteen steps. I have posted from D’Gary’s Malagasy Guitar album before and this week I have chosen a track called Raininy. It is not raininy (sorry, I couldn’t resist) here as I post, in fact it is clear if cold, but tomorrow I fear we will wake to heavy rain which will continue through the morning and some of the afternoon. A day of cooking and indoor jobs is called for methinks.

And, a coincidence, this morning I ordered a The Rough Guide to the Music of the Indian Ocean which includes music from Madagascar, though no D’Gary, along with music from Mauritius, La Réunion and Zanzibar. It should be good. (I’ve also ordered The Rough Guide to English Folk which includes quite a few tracks / artists that I don’t have in my collection. Well you have to make up your Amazon order with music if you are buying clothes moth traps – don’t you?).

D’Gary – Raininy

Colorblind James – Strange Sounds from the Basement

Colorblind James - Strange Sounds from the Basement

Colorblind James – Strange Sounds from the Basement

Thirteen steps from Buddy Guy takes us to Colorblind James.

The Colorblind James Experience experienced little fame in the USA but gained a following in the UK after being taken up and championed by John Peel. Their music did not fit easily into any pigeonhole, which may be why success eluded the band at home but they found an audience with alternative music fans in Europe. Wikipedia has it about right: “Often humorous (“The music stopped. And then it started again.”) and parodic, and just as often laced with a profoundly questioning spirituality; their music blended elements of polka, country, cocktail jazz, blues, rockabilly, Tex-Mex, rock & roll and other genres. The band’s sound was to a large extent inspired by the “old, weird America” famously chased by Bob Dylan and The Band during their Basement Tapes period, but other prominent influences included Ray Charles, Randy Newman, and Van Morrison.”

The band was active from 1978 up to 2001 when Chuck Cuminale, aka Colorblind James, died unexpectedly of an arhythmia.

The track posted today, the title track of the album, is not the strongest on the CD but it seems to be the most appropriate to post in Halloween week.

Colorblind James – Strange Sounds from the Basement

Buddy Guy – I Cry And Sing The Blues

Buddy Guy - I Cry and Sing the Blues

Buddy Guy – I Cry and Sing the Blues

This week Buddy Guy – I Cry and Sing the Blues. This is the track and the album title; the album being one of the keenly priced collections issued by Charly as one of their Blues Masterworks series.

I own a few from this series and, although I’m not a great blues aficionado and so my opinion should be treated with caution, I wouldn’t say that they are necessarily the best recordings from the artists covered. That said, they are a cheap introduction and could provide a jumping off point to discover other albums by these and other blues artists.

The track posted is definitely the stand out track on the record. If it reaches you in anyway there is a wealth of Buddy Guy recordings to explore from his work in the Chess Record’s house band backing Howling Wolf, Muddy Waters et al, through his work with harmonica player Junior Wells to the numerous albums released under his own name. And if you need any more encouragement Buddy Guy was ranked 30th in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.

Buddy Guy – I Cry And Sing The Blues

Ástor Piazzolla – Adiós Nonino

Ástor Piazzolla - Essential Tango

I’m starting to go through my collection again, pausing at every thirteenth CD to pick a track to post. the difference this time round is that, instead of physically going to the rack and counting CDs, I am going through them as folders on my computer. And they are ordered differently – the first word is used to index them so that is the first name of an artist / group and possibly the word The for some groups. We will all learn what difference that will make in the fullness of time.

And so thirteen CDs in from the start of my collection we get to Ástor Piazzola – Essential Tango. I’m posting the last track on album 1 of this double album collection, Adiós Nonino. The tune was composed by Piazzola in 1959, in honour of his father, Vicente “Nonino” Piazzolla, who had died that year. To read more the writing of this composition, see here. There is also a lovely orchestral version on YouTube featuring Piazzola with the Cologne Symphony Orchestra.

Ástor Piazzolla – Adiós Nonino

Traffic – 40,000 Headmen

Traffic - The Collection

Traffic – The Collection

One small project I have set myself is to recreate some of the sampler albums I listened to when I was a teenager. I haven’t made much progress but perhaps will resurrect the idea this winter. To give me some impetus I’ll post Roamin’ Thro’ the Gloamin with 40,000 Headmen by Traffic. I have it now on a Traffic compilation album The Collection but it was originally released as B-side to the “No Face, No Name, No Number” single in 1968 and then on their second album Traffic.

I first owned it on the Island sampler album Nice Enough to Eat. As an impoverished teenager sampler albums were a lifeline to my musical appetite. I could enjoy good music cheaply and go on to buy the crucial albums as and when I had the money. I have many fond, if fading, memories of hanging out with school-friends listening to these samplers – Nice Enough to Eat, You Can All Join In, Bumpers, The Rock Machine Turns You On etc. Happy days.

Traffic – 40,000 Headmen