Monday, February 16, 2009

Vijana Jazz Band - Zilizowika

Another Internet virgin. This album is not mentioned anywhere on the Internet. Vijana Jazz Band are one of the biggest Tanzanian groups in the Muziki wa Dansi category though generally were later than some of the other bands (according to Wikipedia).

One of the tracks was too badly recorded for me to include it here, and I think Kapu La Mjanja has the best combo of vocals and instrumental on this tape.



Kapu La Mjanja
(listen below)



Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pepe Kalle - Voisin/Stop Feu Rouge

Pepe Kalle was quite a character and very well known in the world of congolese and east african pop. According to this great summary of his discography from Frank Bessem, this cassette came out about 1990. I already have some Pepe Kalle stuff and know that he is quite well known, but now I'm going to have to check him out further. This kind of fairly fast Soukous with really bright metallic guitar just really grabs me. You can cop some really fresh Pepe vinyl from 1981 on the amazing Ylow blog here.
I didn't put the last track on here because it doesn't sound like it is Magali and I'm not sure what it is called.

(stream below)

I'm not sure what to think of the fact that he was famous for having dwarfs who performed with him. It gets more freaky when the dwarf starts to hump the other dancers halfway through the vid.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Tabora Jazz Band - old school favorite

The Tabora Jazz Band was one of Tanzanian pop's seminal bands. According to Wikipedia, they were one of the key bands that developed the Tanzanian pop sound I really love called "Muziki was dansi", which came from Congolese/Rumba and Sokous sounds. Unfortunately the quality of this cassette, which is probably from before the 70s, is not super good. Still, the standout track here is Mariam Mpenzi. Particularly the latter part of the track in the breakdown is fantastic. I'd so love to find a better recorded version of this.

Asha No. 1


Zabibu No. 2

Mariam Mpenzi
(stream below)

Tatu Wajidanganya

You can find another Tabora Jazz track over at this Mwana Simba page.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Tandale Modern Theatre - Mbereko - tanzanian pop

As I continue through the cassettes I bought in Tanzania, this one is one of the more obscure ones. I can't find virtually any reference at all to the group on the nets. Kind of half way between the traditional dancey band stuff and the gospel choir stuff, this one seems to be more of maybe a traditional local group. But some of the tunes are still really catchy with complex instrumentation. Probably my favorite is Shoga Kidokozi which you can both download and stream below. The funny thing is that even though I didn't know the term, it says online that Shoga is slang for gay man. So literally this song could mean "a little bit gay".

Mbereko (22 minutes long!)


Nipisheni Msinibane

Shoga Kidokozi
(stream below)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Omary Kopa - Zanzibar Taarab

This is proper Zanzibar Taarab which I purchased in the gift shop of the House of Wonders in Stone town. I am finding that lots of the Taarab is heavy on the kind of arabic style singing and doesn't have much of a traditional song structure (or at least a song structure I'm used to). The singer seems to wander all over the place without much of a melody. So I'm not posting all of the songs, just the ones which I think are a bit more catchy.

I can't find much info about Omary Kopa but I think the 3 tunes are quite catchy, particularly track 3. I can't tell what the tracks are called but I've guessed on 2. The cd had 6 songs on it and for sure they're not in the order on the cover.

Namtunza Mwanangu

Track 3
(listen below)

Tufurahie Kitchen Party

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

mystery cassette - Tanzania gospel music

Well I was really looking forward to this cassette but when I played the songs I realized that it must have been accidentally switched by the cassette stand seller cause the Swahili lyrics don't match the song titles. THE SONGS BELOW ARE NOT THE CASSETTE COVER ABOVE. It sounds like some kind of Tanzania christian music and the cassette has no indication of its title. Still, the music is great and kind of dancey, so if anyone can identify it for me that would be great.

It looks like the Mandela Theatre Troupe were some kind of educational group in Tanzania trying to use music to educate. There is only one reference I could find to this cassette and it is in the Doran Ross collection of Taarab cassettes from Zanzibar. Doran Ross appears to be some luminary from UCLA and the list of cassettes looks like a very comprehensive resource of what might exist in the genre. I will be posting a few of these in the days to come.

Most of Side A was corrupted sound, but I managed to rescue this track for its great male vocal stylings. And Side B is fresh - particularly B3.

Track A4

Track B1

Track B2

Track B3
(listen below - this track is so great)

Track B4

Track B5

Track B6

Download all tracks in rar file. (Sharebee)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Mbaraka Mwinshehe - Tanzanian classic

I just returned to London from a month travelling with my girlfriend in Tanzania. I grew up in Arusha, so it was a chance to go back home and check things out. One of the great pleasures was listening to the great east african sounds blaring out of sound systems in roadside shops and little tinny sounding radios everwhere I went. I managed to pick up about 40 cassettes and a few cds, many from artists whose music doesn't seem to appear anywhere on the web. So I am going to try to do a blitz of the better stuff I got for the next few weeks and then return to my regular programming.

First of all I want to add that there are others much more knowledgeable than me about this kind of music, and others who write about it all the time. Awesome Tapes from Africa covers nothing but african tapes, but it does seem to be mostly west african. He has nothing on Tanzania from what I can tell, though there are some gems from Kenya here. I find that I do usually prefer the instrumental sound from east africa (kenya, Tanzania, and sometimes Zaire (now known as Congo)). This may however be partly because I understand Swahili and the lyrics. Steve Ntwiga's blog is the only one I have found that consistently covers east african music also, but I think he has more of a Kenyan bent. Benn Loxo du Taccu's blog is fantastic for covering lots of african music, but his east african coverage has been thinner. He has covered some Tanzanian stuff before though all links are now dead.

Most of the music I'm going to cover will be of the Taarab flavor or old dance band sound. Tanzania has been crazy about bongo flava for the last few years and some of it is quite nice. But in my view it's just an interesting variation of hip hop and rnb with Swahili lyrics and I'm not really into that sound right now. So I didn't really collect any. Taarab often sounds like a mix beween middle eastern/arab and tanzanian pop. But it varies and sometimes sound a lot more like traditional pop, like the sound on this cassette.

This first cassette I'm featuring is of Mbaraka Mwinshehe who is one of the classics of east african music. His track Shida can still be heards playing out of bars/sound systems all over the country. I had not had a chance to play the cassettes much when I was in Tanzania. But one day we were travelling from Tanga in the north down a really bad dirt road to Pangani (which I highly recommend as an unspoilt beach spot). The driver was playing his Bongo Flava so I asked him if he would mind trying one of my cassettes. We popped this in and when Shida came on he suddenly laughed and started to sing along. I also love the authentication stamp, with signature, on the back of the cover (click on it for a better image).

[I've tried to provide swahili translations of song titles to the best of my capacity.]

Side A

Shida Part 1 & Part 2 (Problems - part 1 and 2)
(listen below)

Nisalimie Wanazaire "Greetings to the Zaire people"

Mapenzi Yanitesa
"My Lovers are Bothering Me"

Side B

Choyo Uache "Don't be Petty" (cassette cover says this is the song, but not sure)

Tutakuja Gombana "We will Start to Argue"

Dr. Kleruu "Dr. Kleruu"

Esta Wangu "My Esther" (cassette cover says this is the song, but not sure)

Download the complete album here (Sharebee).