Afro / Caribbean / 2018 In Review

Caribbean hits came from Family Tree, on Cree, and the Tambours de Martinique E.P., released by the Sol Power Sound collective, out of Washington, DC. Jazz, featuring David & Michael Boothman and Andre Tanker, from Trinidad`s Port Of Spain, and the breakneck Antillean percussion of Max Ransay and Eugene Mona. From Martinique there was also Mac Gregor`s In Abidjan on Hot Casa, and Tabala on Vive La Musique. From Guadeloupe, the Zouk of Feelin Kreyol`s Las Pale, on Strut.

The aforementioned The Slave, by Mighty Sparrow is definitely one of my selections in this “category”. More music from Port-Of-Spain, recorded in in 1963, by the legendary Trinidadian Calypso artist, and reissued at the close of 2018 by France`s Jamwax.  

Mining a similar era of sound was Soul Jazz` Congo Revolution. Collecting impossible to find tunes from the early to mid-60s in a box of five 45s for Record Store Day. Where Highlife begins to mutate into Juju, often set to furious James Brown-inspired Funk. 

More Funk that rivaled James Brown could be found on Pat Thomas Introduces Marijata. The Ghanan band`s 1976 debut, repressed for Record Store Day by Mr. Bongo. While further down the road of West African Juju`s evolution were the drum-machine-assisted recordings of Sir Shina Peters & His International Stars on Sewele. Dating from 1986, and transported to the 21st Century, again by Strut. 

2018 was also the year that the term “Burger Highlife” entered a more popular consciousness. i.e. it was the first I`d heard of it. Referring to the music recorded by Ghanaian ex-pats living in Germany. Standouts were Les Choc Stars Du Zaire’s Nakombe Nga, selected for Rush Hour by John Gomez, the Nana Tuffour E.P. complied by Kalita, and Kojo Antwi`s Kojo I København on Music For Dreams. 

Documenting a similar scene, but focused instead on 80s Paris, was Hugo Mendez` Nouvelle Ambiance!!! The Sofrito Records founder put together an amazing package of text, photos, and music that captures a nightlife soundtracked by a synth-augmented mix of Bikutsi, Makossa, and Soukous. Ahoco, Baoule , Highlife and Merengue. This Parisian scene also produced Momo Joseph’s War For Ground, which was rescued from 1983 by Africa Seven. 

With all that looking backwards, it`s best, I think, to end on something very now. Angelique Kidjo inking-in the influence of Fela Kuti, and Tony Allen, on Brian Eno and Talking Heads, with her storming cover of Remain In Light for Kravenworks. 

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