MAGIC MIX

world . african . latin

WEEK STARTING 21 Sep

Genre pick of the week Cover of A Gira / Last Tango In Paris by Trio Ternura.

Trio Ternura

A Gira / Last Tango In Paris

Melodies International move from North America into Brazilian territory for this latest release, reissuing a remarkable piece of 1970s MPB (Música popular brasileira) written and mostly recorded by a single family.

Trio Ternura (or Tenderness Trio) consisted of two sisters, Jussara, Jurema and their brother Robson. Their father, Umberto Silva was a revered Brazilian songwriter and recording artist who introduced his children to the music world at a very young age.

After performing some songs on broadcast television and at festivals early on, their father Umberto and brother, Beto Scala wrote A Gira for the Trio to record. The song is a tribute to nature, spirituality and mindfulness. The hommage is made through a form of “cantico” (chant) or “saudação” (salutation), aimed at invoking an Orisha named “Oxossi”. Otherwise known as “Saints”, Orishas are the deities worshiped in the Afro-Brazilian religion of “Candomblé”.

African religion and culture have had an undeniable impact in Brazil, especially in music and on artists with African roots as its rituals were often accompanied by music comprising highly percussive drumming. As a result, "A Gira", an homage to a Candomblé deity recorded in 1973 involves mesmerizing polyrhythms from the very first few bars and throughout, followed by the sisters’ soaring vocals and impeccable instrumentation. It’s a song that they can really identify with, in their own words “it has the dancing, the expression, the lyrics and musical relaxation - something very Brazilian”.

Originally released on Polydor in Brazil, fully licensed and remastered from the tapes – MEL012 comes forth in its 7-inch original vinyl format, b/w Trio Ternura's stunning version of Gato Barbieri's Last Tango in Paris and is accompanied by the first bilingual Melozine.

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: I was cruising through South Central MCR a couple of months ago and a Legacy DJ dropped this MEGA Brazilian language version of Astrud Gilberto's "Black Magic" (or so I thought!). Turns out this exotic and evocative cut is the original - now available to all thanks to the Melodies International crew.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Ltd 7" Info: Originally released on Polydor in Brazil, fully licensed and remastered from the tapes, MEL12 comes forth in its 7-inch original vinyl format and is accompanied by the first bilingual Melozine.

Alba & The Mighty Lions

La Verdad


Lowrider soul heads for a south-of-the-border surf date on these two sizzling originals from Alba & the Mighty Lions. A perfect soundtrack for cruising with the bad girls in a drop-top or soothing a late night heartbreak, "La Verdad" and "Esperando" are your tough, no-nonsense friend with a heart of gold who always has your back. Soulful vocals paint a mood while the band's nimble arrangements follow every move. Alba Ponce de León is a multi-talented artist who cut her teeth in the swirling scene of Brooklyn's indie underground, backing up Daptone acts Charles Bradley & Naomi Shelton as well as playing a major role in the fearsome feminist freedom fighters, The Resistance Revival Chorus.

Olev Muska

Laulik Elektroonik - Explorations In Estonian Electronic Folk Music, The First Years 1979-1983

"Laulik-elektroonik" LP by an ex-pat Estonian musician Olev Muska is the new release of Estonian archival label Frotee Records. The compilation subtitled as "Explorations in Estonian Electronic Folk Music - The First Years, 1979-1983" brings together all Muska's Estonian-themed songs recorded prior to his debut album from 1985, "Old Estonian Waltzes". It includes previously unreleased material and tracks from limited edition tapes and 7" single. For its 10th release, Frotee has expanded its scope and is now also offering insights into quality music by Estonians all over the world.

Olev Muska was born to a family of expatriate Estonians in Australia. From 1979 onwards he recorded unique versions of Estonian folk songs on various electronic music instruments at his home studio. As Muska was into contemporary experimental music and also bored with the conservative take on Estonian culture prevalent in the activities of the Australian ex-pat community, he decided to combine these two influences to create his unique brand of electronic Estonian folk music. As Muska had access to more advanced musical equipment, he achieved a level of quality in his arrangements that would not have been possible in Soviet Estonia. He managed to create surprisingly amazing Estonian minimal wave with his group Elektrio but wasn't ashamed to make medley of Estonian themes with cheesy-sounding small Casio synthesizer either. His early versions of some folk songs, like "Kaera-Jaan" or "Saaremaa", are less crazy than on his debut LP and as such a welcome addition to Frotee's collection of Balearic sounds.

Although Muska was not a stranger to the contemporary Australian underground music scene, he continued to record with a couple of close friends and performed only at local Estonian events. Thus Olev Muska has been a well kept secret amongst Estonian music fans, one that remained entirely unknown to Australian record collectors until Chris Bonato from Left Ear Records introduced "Old Estonian Waltzes" LP to a wider audience. Left Ear Records has now licensed "Karjapoisi lugu" off the 1985 LP for their Australian underground music compilation "Antipodean Anomalies".

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Frotee's journeys through the backpages of Estonian music turns the spotlights of Estonian musicians based elsewhere with a wonky set of electronics from Autralian Estonian Olev Muska.

In a world where chaos seems to be in control more often than not, music can occasionally be a temporary respite; and at best, a form of salvation. This is the transcendent realm of Okonkolo: Yoruban Santeria music like you have never heard before. The group is the life’s work of New York-born percussionist and Yoruba Chango priest Abraham “Aby” Rodriguez. His group quietly released "Rezos", a gorgeous 10” EP in 2016 on Brooklyn’s Big Crown, and has now returned to give the world even more hypnotic incantations on their debut full length. Featuring nine songs, each of the group’s religious epiphanies on "Cantos" follow a similar path, with transcendently hypnotic results.

As with all Santeria ritual musical accompaniment, drums are at the center of all offerings – namely, the Bata and Coro. In "Okonkolo", they are played by Rodriguez, Gene Golden and Xavier Rivera. Building on these rhythms, vocals play an equally important role in the proceedings, sung in Yoruba, contributed by Aby and the powerful female voices of Amma McKen and Jadele McPherson. Although not necessarily musically comparable, conceptually "Cantos" clearly reminds listeners of artists and albums that effortlessly straddle the line between the sacred and the secularly sublime: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s finest work; Ravi Shankar; Alice Coltrane’s "Journey In Satchidananda"; and many more classics released over the past half century. Along the "Cantos" journey, strains of music from around the world can be heard – Africa, South America, the Caribbean and even New York City. Beyond the drums and vocals featured at any traditional Yoruba / Santeria ceremony, with this album there are additional layers that add to the musical beauty: overlaid on top of traditional elements are jazz-associated instrumentation, including horns, bass, guitar and even lush string arrangements.


Oneness Of Juju

African Rhythms (2018 Reissue)

Strut present a brand-new edition of Oneness of Juju’s Afro-jazz classic ‘African Rhythms’, originally released on Black Fire in 1975 and first reissued on Strut in 2002.

For bandleader James “Plunky” Branch, ‘African Rhythms’ marked a significant return to his home town of Richmond, Virginia after a politically charged five years based on the East and West coasts. His personal journey had taken him from activism at Columbia University to San Francisco where Zulu musician Ndikho Xaba used theatre to “resurrect” Afro-Americans with a new African identity. The first incarnation of Plunky’s band, Juju, drew attention to the struggle in South Africa under apartheid, layering heavy Afro rhythms under uncompromising avant garde jazz.

Back in Richmond, Plunky tapped into the mid-Atlantic preference for Southern R&B and gospel: “Juju had always been blues-based and it was a natural progression to add R&B and dance rhythms. It didn’t change our message.” Produced by Jimmy Gray of Black Fire Records, the new sessions included the title track (“We wanted a song to dance to with a message – ‘you are dancing to African rhythms’”), the positive message of ‘Don’t Give Up’ and political commentary on ‘Liberation Dues’.

Originally just a regional hit on the East coast and in Washington DC specifically, the album gradually spread, influencing the nascent DC go-go scene. The UK revived the album during the rare groove era of the late ‘80s and the title track has since become a soul-jazz favourite worldwide.

Remastered from the original sessions and featuring rare photos and extensive liner notes, this new repress also features Part 1 and Part 2 of the original 45 version of ‘African Rhythms’ and the previously unheard ‘Afrobeat’, recently unearthed from the original tapes.


STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Jeepers! Oneness of Juju's Afrocentric jazz-funk great "African Rhythms" gets a nicely remastered, repackaged reissue from the fine folks at Strut. Quality stuff...

Dark Entries is honored to reissue the debut 12” single ‘Courage’ from Scottish band Talking Drums. Formed in Glasgow in 1981 when Charlie and Dot lived above a pub and discovered their downstairs neighbor, Carol, was a sensational singer. They quickly recruited Stewart on bass and Derek on drums and started gigging. Scotland in the early 80s had a live music scene where unsigned bands could gather a serious following and the band played every major city, helped by catchy, indie-pop tunes and Carol’s explosive performances. The recorded their debut album ‘Fighting To The Finish’ all in a week in March 1982 and released it on cassette. ‘Courage’ was their first vinyl outing in the independent, cottage-industry spirit of the times, originally released on Sticky Music in late 1982. The group added a horn section and congas extending the song to 8 sprawling minutes of dubby disco funk in the vein of ESG and William Onyeabor. The studio owner, Ian, had just bought a new piece of equipment called an Aphex Aural Exciter and put the whole mix through it – maybe one reason why “Courage” sounds strangely ahead of its time. For this first time vinyl reissue we’ve added bonus track “Lost in the 20th Century” from 1982, previously available only on their debut cassette album. All songs are remastered for vinyl by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. Each copy includes a double sided insert with ephemera, photos and liner notes by the band.

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: The latest reissue from US archivists Dark Entries points a spotlight at Talking Drums (no relation), the 80s Scottish indie ensemble who's killer disco-not-synth-pop cut "Courage" became a diggers classic thanks to its inclusion on Sonar Kollektiv's "Computer Incantations..." comp. Highly recommended from all of us at Piccadilly.


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